If you’re looking to break into ecommerce, you have some decisions to make. What will you sell? How will you market the products? And where will you sell them?
When it comes to ecommerce, where is just as important as what. You have a lot to consider when it comes to an ecommerce platform. Not all platforms are bundled with hosting. Some plans leave out features so they’re more cost effective.
Most importantly, some platforms are closed source (like Shopify or BigCommerce) and some are open source. Why is that important?
Keep reading for an overview on open source ecommerce platforms, how they differ from closed source options, and more.
What’s The Difference Between Closed Source and Open Source Ecommerce Platforms?
First, let’s break down the key differences between open source vs. proprietary solutions.
Open Source Ecommerce Platforms
When we say “open source” we’re talking about software that is made for everyone to use, copy, change, and distribute. Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and LibreOffice are all examples of open source software. WooCommerce, which is a plugin for WordPress, is a very popular open source ecommerce platform.
With open source software, developers can take the source code, edit it, and make improvements. It typically has a longer shelf life than closed source software because it is developed and maintained by a community of users. The open source community provides a robust network of advice and support, and evolves the functionalities of the platform with continuous improvements, new plugins, and more.
Related reading: The Essential Guide to WordPress Plugins >>
Open source ecommerce platforms allow you to truly own your code. When you own your code, you can do anything you want with it. You can make it truly “yours” by customizing it while still using the base coding.
Think of it as being a baker in a room full of other bakers, each given a basic cake recipe. Each baker understands the recipe and makes adjustments, little tweaks here and there. By the end of class, everyone has a slightly different cake customized to their liking.
Closed Source Ecommerce Platforms
Closed source is different in that you pay to use a proprietary piece of software that you can’t change or edit. With closed source, what you see is what you get. You only have access to features built into the existing software.
When you want added features, you’re going to pay for each and every upgrade (if it exists). Third party integrations are much harder and more expensive to maintain. Most of the time you’ll need entirely different software for solutions that could easily be integrated into WooCommerce with a simple plugin: shipping, marketing, you name it.
Related reading: WooCommerce vs Shopify: Key Differences and How to Choose >>
You are also at the mercy of their developers to keep the software updated. If the software doesn’t suit your needs, you’ll have to wait for them to add functionality or get other software that may or may not be compatible.
When it comes to ecommerce platforms, there’s an even bigger divide between open and closed source: the licensing fee. Open source platforms are free to use. Closed source options have yearly licensing fees — some of which do not come with hosting.
Closed source software is like showing up to a restaurant hungry and the chef tells you what you’re getting for dinner. It may be good, but it may not fill you up and you certainly can’t substitute anything.
A Closer Look at the Open Source Community
One of the biggest assets to utilizing open source ecommerce platforms is the helpful, accommodating communities that surround them. WordPress is open source software, and its ecommerce platform is WooCommerce.
WordPress is well known for its innovative community. Anyone can build a plugin. Forums are filled with users asking questions and getting answers for free. The support system built into open source communities is robust, because everyone wants a streamlined, easy experience.
Developers and designers contribute to the community because it helps them as much as it helps you. The free exchange of ideas and information enables greater improvements and access to helpful tools for everyone.
Related reading: The Ultimate Ecommerce Holiday Survival Guide >>
Some developers make additions to the code that enhance and expand functionality. These are known as plugins or extensions. It is common for a developer to get paid to create a plugin to expand the functionality of someone’s store, and the community benefits as well due to its open source nature.
When site and store owners encounter a problem, solutions are available at the ready or developers will find a way to tackle the issue. You can sort through posts to find answers to virtually any question, written by developers themselves.
That being said, navigating the community can feel like a lot of work sometimes. The sheer amount of plugins for WooCommerce, for example, can make it difficult to figure out which are truly best for your business. Thankfully, there are WordPress ecommerce solutions that pre-curate plugins for maximum performance.
Streamline Open Source With StoreBuilder
Now that you’re well aware of the benefits of open source ecommerce platforms, let’s take a closer look at one in particular: StoreBuilder by Nexcess.
StoreBuilder gives you the best of both worlds: all the benefits of an open source ecommerce platform, bundled up and made easy with WooCommerce hosting.
Affordable Cost of Entry
StoreBuilder helps you build your store on the WooCommerce platform and provides an easy, affordable hosting solution. Avoid yearly licensing fees while getting the customizable and user-friendly functionality that open source ecommerce platforms offer.
With upfront pricing that begins at $19/month, there’s an option for everyone, and you still get all the features and customizability you want out of open source platforms, all while backed by high-performance hosting.
Hand-Picked, Premium Themes & Plugins Ready to Go
When creating your store on an open source platform, you’ll be thinking about which plugins you want. You’ll have to test them, see how they work, and analyze how they affect your site’s performance. The open source community will have tons of suggestions, but maybe you don’t have the time to read pages of reviews and posts only to find out something won’t work for you.
StoreBuilder by Nexcess makes it easy for you. Each plan comes with a curated variety of plugins and tools that we’ve tested and know work well. For example, StoreBuilder comes with Kadence Theme Pro and Kadence Blocks Pro built in.
With custom integrations, premium themes and plugins, and blazing fast hosting, you get everything you need bundled up for fast and easy deployment.
Sales & Performance Insights for High-Performing Stores
StoreBuilder takes the most powerful CMS in the world and makes it better and easier. All plans come with Sales Performance Monitor and Plugin Performance Monitor to provide you with the important insights you need — no additional plugins required. While other ecommerce platforms alert you that something’s wrong, StoreBuilder tells you why.
Sales Performance Monitor empowers store owners to take immediate action to understand revenue trends, should shifts occur. Plugin Performance Monitor runs nightly tests and captures and compares the performance of your store before and after plugin or theme changes. That way, you get insights on what changed and its impact on performance.
Get Started With StoreBuilder Today
If you’re looking for an economical option, backed by a robust community and that doesn’t limit your creativity, StoreBuilder’s the ecommerce solution for you.
StoreBuilder by Nexcess gives you the head start you need to jump right into open source ecommerce with powerful hosting that will keep your store in the lead.We’re proud to offer our latest version of StoreBuilder to people just like you: people that want the most bang for their buck but refuse to compromise on quality.
See why Better Is Built In with Nexcess.
Check out StoreBuilder today.