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eCommerce Website: Self-hosted or Hosted?

When it comes to building out your eCommerce website should you self-host it with a platform like WordPress or use a third party eCommerce solution like Shopify?

First, let me address this, yes, you can build an eCommerce website with WordPress!

One of the most common plugins for building an online store with WordPress is WooCommerce, which was recently acquired by Automattic making it part of the WordPress core products.

However, there are maybe a hundred more plugins out there that give you the power to sell stuff on your website. Below is very short list of the ones I’ve used.

The benefits of self-hosted solutions

If you use self-hosted WordPress to build your online store you have complete flexibility and control. Your limits are your level of experience or expertise.

If you’re paying a developer then it gives them more control and freedom to customize the overall experience and usage.

The other big benefit is ownership. When you build your ecommerce website on a self-hosted WordPress install, you have full control over that install and what happens too it.

The challenge of self-hosted solutions

If you’re not experienced, you will want to give yourself plenty of time to figure out how to build an online store. Things like, setup, customization, product input, design, etc…

With WordPress you’ll be using a plugin so you have to learn how to use WordPress and how to use the ecommerce plugin.

All of this means it will take more time before you can get your product to market.

The other biggest challenge is cost.

WooCommerce addons, for example, are pretty pricy. The WooCommerce core plugin is free, however if you want to have recurring payments or subscriptions, if you need customizable tax/shipping, want to offer protected downloads, etc… expect to pay $45-$200+ per year per addon.

If you’re hiring a good developer to build your ecommerce website with WordPress you can expect to pay $2,500+, and that’s just for their work, not including the annual subscriptions for whichever commerce plugin you decide to use.

The benefits of hosted solutions

You won’t have to deal with putting all the pieces together. When you use a hosted solution like Shopify, you setup your account, pick your design/layout, configure a few things like tax and shipping, and start inputting products.

You’ll get to market much faster, have a beautiful site – even if you just use a default template – and you won’t have to worry much about anything other than fulfilling orders and growing your business.

The challenge of hosted solutions

You’ll have limited control and customizations of you store and the platform you pick. Some will be more limited then others so research and pick wisely. Some hosted ecommerce websites are missing function and feature that you may need or a niche store.

For me, the biggest draw back to hosted is the risk.

Because you’re using a 3rd party, you are giving up a lot of control, your business is at risk of policy changes and even platform failure.

If the company makes a policy change and decides you can no long host your type of product on their site, you have to find a new home for your business.

If you pick a new platform that just doesn’t reach the success they need to keep the doors open your business gets shut down too!

What I recommend!

If you have the funds and/or time to build your own self-hosted WordPress ecommerce website, do that! Just don’t forget that you will want to have security and a developer on call 24/7, just incase you experience some technical difficulties along the way.

If you don’t have the funds and/or time to go the self-hosted path or just need to do a quick product MVP, then use a hosted solution, and I only recommend two hosted solutions:

If you start on the path of a hosted ecommerce website, make it a goal to eventual get your business moved to a self-hosted solution with WordPress so that you can continue to grow and scale your business, oh yeah, and take back your control!

Final Note

If you decide you go with Shopify, I have a special treat for you! There is a “secret” 20 video course on “how to get your first sale on shopify”, best part it’s free!!

eCommerce Website Video Course:


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