Although you might be lured into an especially affordable plan that meets some of your criteria, it’s important to do research before committing. You can change hosts anytime, but migrating your site can be a hassle for you and your customers. Consider the following:
Even though e-commerce hosts offer competitive packages, you have to decide whether they’re cost-efficient.
Paying more doesn’t always equal the best experience.
However, choosing the cheapest option will often leave you looking for add-on capabilities from somewhere else. Piecing together fees from various providers is usually the most expensive way to go.
Before you choose an e-commerce host, decide on your budget for the following features.
If you choose standalone web hosting, you’ll have to research the costs of these services from other providers. But if you look at all-in-one hosts, you’ll often find that you can select a premium package that includes all of these features and stays within your budget.
From landing page to checkout, your store web design should create a unique user experience that reflects your brand and keeps customers coming back.
Many major e-commerce platforms have a variety of themes you can choose from. Some themes may be free with the platform, while others may range in price from $60-$200 each.
In addition, there will likely be instances when your e-commerce solution doesn’t have the necessary features you’re looking for. This is where add-ons, plugins, and extension costs come into play.
Programming and functionality.
Custom e-commerce functionality, backend programming, and coding are often the highest costs in building out your e-commerce website. However, they’re also extremely important if you want your business to operate efficiently and have a competitive edge against other e-commerce solutions.
According to OuterBox Design, backend programming can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $75,000, and third-party integrations can range from $500 to $20,000, depending on the size of your business.
Protecting your data and that of your customers should always be a top priority. Choose a platform that will help you feel secure in how payment processing and data are managed — the alternative can cost your company and lose loyal customers.
Luckily, platforms like BigCommerce are ISO/IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified, and support 65+ online payment gateways, such as PayPal and Stripe, as well as 140 currencies.
Platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are hosted on the cloud and offer web hosting as part of the monthly subscription, which means you don’t need to search for third-party hosting or deal with the challenges of managing it.
However, if you want to self-host your e-commerce store or use a platform that doesn’t include hosting costs in the subscription rate, such as WooCommerce, the cost can range from $80-$730 per month. However, this price may depend on your amount of web traffic, your website features, and automated services, such as a site backup.
Building an e-commerce website isn’t just a one-and-done fee — you’ll likely have to pay to keep up your site and ensure everything continues to run smoothly.
For instance, your domain name will be an annual cost unless you're able to pay for several years upfront. Plus, you’ll likely have to pay regularly for hosting unless your e-commerce platform includes it in the subscription costs, and your SSL certificate is another annual fee to keep in mind.
Ensure it integrates with business software.
Nothing is more frustrating than migrating to a new platform and having to start from scratch when it comes to business software. Make sure that the platform you choose can easily integrate with your current solutions and systems at no additional cost.
Luckily, Shopify and Bigcommerce have thousands of agency partners on hand and can help create a seamless transition to our platform without having to sacrifice your existing software.
Especially when choosing between an open-source or SaaS platform, customization will likely be a major deciding factor.
With open-source software, the user has full control over the source code, which means the user can customize every aspect of their site, from product pages to themes to check-out experiences. However, unless you have extensive coding experience and the budget to account for programming costs, open source might not be in the cards for you.
On the other hand, SaaS platform customization can be more limited. Since the service provider has control over the source code, the user does not have as much freedom to customize their site as they would with an open-source platform.
However, there is a happy medium.
With open SaaS platforms like Shopify, and BigCommerce, merchants can have all of the benefits of SaaS in addition to the flexibility and functionality of open source.
Plus, with headless capabilities, brands can deliver API-driven experiences through a CMS, DXP, application, device, or custom frontend while Shopify, and BigCommerce power the commerce engine — allowing you to create a unique customer experience without ever having to re-platform again.
Sales and advertising channel compatibility.
Some of the most successful businesses are the ones with a strong omnichannel strategy — one that weaves together various business channels, both online and offline, to create a consistent, engaging customer experience. And leveraging social commerce is a key way to achieve that.
Nowadays, many social media platforms aren’t just for entertainment — they’ve also become a hub for online shopping. With Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest now delivering an in-app e-commerce experience for users, there are endless opportunities for merchants to sell across all channels.
To help merchants achieve their omnichannel strategies, BigCommerce offers one-click integrations with leading software providers like Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Alibaba, and Salesforce, as well as integrations with the world's largest marketplaces including Google Shopping, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and Instagram.
Product inventory complexity.
Maybe you offer a wide assortment of physical products and digital products, or perhaps you have a significant number of variants for your basic product line.
If you have a large catalog and need several product pages or plan to grow your business, choosing a platform with low SKU limits essentially restricts the upside of your business.
Luckily, Shopify is built for big catalogs. Merchants can add up to 600 SKUs per product compared to the 100 SKUs per product cap of Shopify/Shopify Plus.
Of course, every company has different needs, and one company may require more SKUs than another. For instance, an auto parts manufacturer would likely require a higher SKU volume, while a DTC company may only need 1 product per SKU.
Ability to scale your business with the platform.
It's important to consider a platform that can grow with you.
How much traffic do you expect on your site? If you’re just starting out, it’s understandable that you might not need a host with high-traffic capabilities. But if you’re focused on your growth, your e-commerce business could scale rapidly. Will your host be able to handle traffic demands now and in the future?
What could happen if you run a promotion or campaign that goes viral? Your hosting infrastructure needs to be flexible enough to handle traffic surges without crashing your site.
Cloud hosting is one of the best options for e-commerce sites because it can keep up with traffic. Because a network of machines handles your site’s hosting needs, you have almost unlimited growth capabilities.
Platform customer service.
You’re inside an e-commerce solution every single day.
And when that time comes, it’s good to know that you can get a hold of a real-life person to assist you with the problem, whether that be through phone support, email, or chat.
Some platforms outsource their customer service and make it difficult — or practically impossible — to call in and get help when you need it most.
But at BigCommerce, we feel that every one of our customers is entitled to personalized customer support. For that reason, we offer 24/7 live agent support, as well as a dedicated help center and active community of merchants.