E-Commerce Platforms: Hosted vs Self-Hosted - Find Your Perfect Fit

Posted by Sandeep Sharma

October 01, 2018

SEO 32 min read

Online shopping is not a foreign concept anymore. With the passage of time, the internet has become a great source for shopping. So, it is not a bad idea to think about jumping on the bandwagon and wanting to create your own e-commerce website.

When you are thinking of creating an online e-commerce website, there are many aspects that you should consider before going ahead and finalizing things. You need to do serious research before getting started to make sure that your venture doesn’t end up in a pickle.

The most important question that may arise in your might is- are you going to use a self-hosted platform or a hosted platform for your e-commerce website?

So in this blog, you will learn about the major difference between the two e-commerce platforms. By the end of this blog, you should be able to decide which e-commerce platform is best suited for your business.

Let’s get started!

  • The two major e-commerce platforms are:
    1. Hosted
    2. Self-hosted

The most important factor to be considered while comparing a self-hosted and a hosted platform is the cost factor. You should also be clear about how you are going to maintain it after the website has been launched. Various additional aspects like web design, apps, support, and search engine optimization should also be considered.

Once you are through with all of this, let us understand the major differences between self-hosted and hosted e-commerce platforms.

  • Understanding self-hosted e-commerce platforms:

1. Self-hosted e-commerce platform:

Self-hosted platforms are also known as non-hosted platforms. This type of platform provides you with a lot of control and allows you to personalize your online store just the way you like it. When you go for a self-hosted platform, you can personalize your online store just the way you want it. You can show your creativity on the available features such as banner ads, product pages, coupon codes, etc. 

While working with a self-hosted platform, you can download as well as run the software yourself. However, you will need a basic understanding of e-commerce applications and you should know how to maintain security and other fraud issues. In many cases, some small businesses struggle with self-hosted platforms as they are unable to fully optimize the digital store.

One main disadvantage of working on a self-hosted platform is that there is no central support system available for you if you get stuck with something. Therefore, you must gain proper knowledge about how you troubleshoot problems whenever needed. If you are not from a technical background, you can hire a well-qualified web developer who can assist you and make your job easy.

Self-hosted platforms are best suited for big businesses. As this type of platform requires constant updates and maintenance, it is necessary to have a dedicated IT team to keep the website up to date. The company has to pay all e costs starting from setting up the online store to launching the store. All this will require a sizable budget, thus if you are a big-shot company self-hosted e-commerce platforms will work really well for you.

  • Some examples of self-hosted e-commerce platforms:

1. Magento



Released in May 2014, Magento has become extremely popular. After the success of Magento edition 1.9, the entire web community is eagerly waiting for Magento 2.0.

  • Pros: A) You can choose from hundreds of high-quality templates available.
    b) You can customize how your product listing will look just the way you like.
    c) You can connect with almost any tool services out there.
  • Cons: A) Some people might find it time-consuming but this can be solved if you hire a qualified web developer who can manage things for you.

2. WooCommerce ( a WordPress plugin)


Woocommerce is yet another easy-to-use e-commerce platform. The best part about it is that it runs on WordPress and thus it hardly takes a few minutes to become familiar with it.

  • Pros:

    a) WooCommerce is a pretty light application and so it is very easy to use.
    b) You can use widgets in the way that you’re used to and if you use WooCommerce-optimized themes.
    c) If you are familiar with WordPress, it is very easy for you to learn WooCommerce as well.
  •  Cons: A) In some cases, a big quantity of plugins can result in delaying the store’s response time. This might slow down the page speed.

 3. Drupal Commerce

drupal commerce

Drupal commerce has all the necessary e-commerce features. It allows you to enhance the cart yourself. It also has amazing customer support and also has a Q&A section.

  • Pros: A) Extensive documentation for developers.
    b) It is developer friendly and also great for platform site
  • Cons: A) If you are not from an IT background, you might find it a little difficult to learn.

II.  Hosted e-commerce platform:

Coming to a hosted e-commerce website, these websites run on someone else’s server. Thus, it reduces the amount of control you have over your online stores. This type of online platform is perfect if you do not have a dedicated team to manage your online store and want to prioritize the other areas of your business.

Hosted platforms reduce downtime by implementing the latest features that consumers love. Hosted platforms solve problems such as finding the right e-commerce technology. It also allows you to easily integrate traditional e-commerce with traditional sales models.

While working with hosted e-commerce platforms you don’t have to worry about resolving technical issues on your own. You can take the advantage of customer services and technical support available. While working with a hosted website you don’t have to necessarily have any kind of website development knowledge.

  • Some examples of hosted e-commerce platforms:

1. Shopify


You must have definitely heard the name Shopify while surfing for e-commerce portals.  Shopify offers hundreds of apps and a wide variety of themes you can choose from.

  • Pros: A) Easily integrate with shipping carriers, fulfillment centers, and dropshipping companies.
    b) Its mobile app is very easy to use and you can use it for accepting payments as well as managing your online store.
    c) Shopify experts are always available to help you when you get stuck.
  • Cons: A)Some users might find it a little expensive. However, the fees charged from you are only to make your experience better.

2. BigCommerce


BigCommerce is extremely popular for small to medium-sized web stores. It allows you to grow your sales more than any other shopping cart software in the market.

  • Pros:A) Features like real-time shipping quotes, gift cards, and 24/7 phone/mail/chat support are included in its base plan.
    b) In-built features with great features.
    c) Built-in marketing features.
  • Cons:A) Due to the variety of features available, some people might find it confusing to operate.

3. Etsy



With Etsy, you can list your products in a way that attracts the right kind of audience for you. This website is known to have high traffic and thus you can reach the maximum users via this portal.

  • Pros: A) You get plenty of ways to present yourself and your products and really make a brand out of yourself.
    b) Easy interaction with buyers.
    c) Reasonable listing fees.
  • Cons: A) Listing multiple items is difficult.
    b) No alerts for expired or sold-out items.
  • How to identify the right platform for your business?

If you are an experienced web developer or if you have a dedicated team that can handle your website for you, then the self -hosted platform is the best option for you.

Sometimes it might happen that you wish to do plenty of interesting things with your website and you want to make it as innovative as possible. In such a case, your ideas might be simply too advanced for hosted e-commerce platforms.

On the other hand, if your business is really small then there is no need to invest in self-hosted websites. The hosted online shops will have all the basic features that you will ever need. This will allow you to invest more attention and money in areas like marketing and production.

Hosted websites will also suffice your purpose if you have a fairly small budget. It is a fact that self-hosted websites are pretty expensive to maintain. When you opt for a self-hosted website, you will have to pay for its design and you must also invest in a good server hosting.

For bigger projects, it is advisable to hire a separate person who can maintain everything so that your website is never in trouble. So now when you put it all together, you will notice that a hosted platform is actually quite cheaper when compared to self-hosted platforms.

However, if you want more customization and wish to create your website just the way you want it then a self-hosted platform is the best choice for you. Self-hosted platforms are highly flexible and more powerful. On the other hand, if you do not have extensive technical knowledge or you are not willing to invest in a web developer then you can go for the hosted platform.

So now that you know the major difference between these two platforms, you should be able to identify which will suit you the best. If executed in a good manner, both of these platforms can prove to be very powerful. Whatever you think might suit your business the best make sure you put in all your efforts and rest assured you will make a terrific online shop!


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