April 21, 2011
Hosting your online store is actually very simple.
“Hosting” means a space on the web (a computer’s hard drive) that is up and running 24/7 so people can access your store anywhere in the world, at any time.
Many shopping cart platforms such as BigCommerce, CoreCommerce, Volusion, and others offer a “hosted solution” for your online store. That means that all you need to do is point your domain name to their servers and you they will take care of keeping your online store live on the web.
Benefits of Hosted Shopping Carts: Reliability; most hosted solutions offer redundant architecture so if one server (computer) fails, a second kicks in, if that fails, a third server steps in to keep your store up and running. Full technical support. Upgrades for life.
Drawbacks of Hosted Shopping Carts: An additional monthly fee. Anywhere from $30 to $300 a month or more. Limited access to the source code (customization).
You could also purchase a Licensed Shopping Cart. This means that you actually purchase the software and host it on your own server (or a rented one from a third party such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions to mention a few). You will incur in an upfront cost of purchasing the software, usually somewhere between $295 to $1,800 like the Interspire Shopping Cart. Then you will have to upload the software to your server and run it.
Benefits of a Licensed Shopping Cart: You own the product and have complete access to the source code (customization). No monthly fees unless you require extra support. You can get really cheap hosting.
Drawbacks of a Licensed Shopping Cart: Expensive upfront purchase. Limited upgrades (usually 1 year is included with most platforms). No redundant architecture (unless you pay for more servers and get it set up). You may end up needing to hire someone to manage it.
Our Suggestion to You:
Go with a Hosted Shopping Cart if you are just starting up. You’ll get solid support throughout your learning curve.
Go with a Licensed Shopping Cart if you are medium to large business and can afford to hire a Webmaster. You’ll get better return on investment.