Recently I was answering a question about the limitations of hosted e-commerce platforms and though I would share it here as well.
Hosted platforms are generally great for two scenarios:
1. Start a new online business
2. Sell niche products (for example on Etsy)
For these two cases, Hosted platforms offer a (pretty much) ready to use online shop with no need of a web developer, designer, and online marketing specialist. This will save you a lot of money.
For option #2, you might never need to leave hosted e-commerce, since their rate on transactions are not too bad and you don’t have to worry about anything except selling.
For option #1, you can use them to try your business plan, meet your audience, perfect your seller skills and get your logistic going. It’s a risk-free investment since most of the time you pay close to nothing on set-up and then pay a rate on each sale.
What are the limitations of hosted E-commerce platforms?
The limitations you’ll meet are mostly in terms of customization. These platforms have a limited space for growth. You won’t be able to:
- Integrate most APIs, for example, connect with a POS system, or inventory systems
- Design your own. Most of the time these hosted e-commerce platforms have tools and themes but if you need something really custom you’ll need help from a web designer and a web developer. And they’re going to tell you that they can’t work on this platform.
- Do custom Sales and promotions. If you want to do buy one get two free in California, you might require custom development. And again, the platform won’t let you add custom code to their system.
- Customize account pages/ payment pages/ Emails triggers, etc… Again, these platforms only offer a limited amount of customization, and these generally focus on the most common demands from shop owners. Being original is not really possible within these limitations.
- Growth. At some point, you’ll be stuck and want to move to your own solution. Make sure you can export your catalog, orders, and client base when you do.