Pros and Cons of Open Source Ecommerce Software


No matter where you heard it first, it’s a universal truth: “There is no free lunch”. This is especially true when it comes to the pros and cons of open source e-commerce software (OSS).

Indeed, one of the most attractive aspects of free software is the power of its flexibility. However, with this power comes the responsibility to develop, maintain and improve it. For some it is done easily, for many it is a task best left to others.

Open source software gives you access to the underlying code, so you can reconfigure it to do just about anything you want. There is also a universe of extensions, plugins, and a robust developer network. However, you will need to hire someone who knows how to dance it to the music you would like to hear. This means that you will have to pay someone to keep the software up to date, as well as to track down and fix bugs. Also, since you will be essentially building from scratch, you will need to allow more time for implementation. Nonetheless, OSS is a great choice for those familiar with the code, as you can use it as the basis for a truly unique site.

Many free software providers offer the code for free, so it’s easy to access it. However, you will usually have to pay license fees, pay for support, and hire staff to maintain it. So while the cost of entry may be zero, the costs for maintenance, hosting, personnel, and support can be quite high. In contrast, the costs of most proprietary software come out on top. As an example, consider the property Shopify Plus vs. Magento Enterprise OSS. Shopify costs can be easily cited while Magento costs, well, they depend.

OSS also comes without any conditions in terms of hosting your site. This means that you can host your site on your own servers, giving you full control over how it works. On the other hand, if your server goes down, so does your store.

Open source ecommerce software has an unfair reputation for being prone to piracy, as anyone can look under the hood and devise all kinds of devious ways to wreak havoc. However, for most of the best OSSs, security updates are released frequently and considerable effort is devoted to their security. However, since your IT staff should be responsible for implementing these updates, they will only happen when your team performs them. It is important to keep abreast of the latest developments to protect the personal data of your customers. Additionally, upgrades can sometimes introduce issues with highly customized code; so again, you will need a dedicated person who knows the code to implement them.

Another advantage of OSS is its ability to integrate with a wide variety of payment gateways. Meanwhile, most proprietary software will limit you to a specific set of choices. If you want to do business in other countries, sometimes you might find that proprietary software will struggle to interface with the country’s preferred gateway. However, the flip side is that specific gateways tend to be the most secure. With OSS, you have no guarantee that your payment pages will comply with the payment card industry data security standard, unless they are specifically written to do so.

These are just a few of the pros and cons of open source ecommerce software. In short, the main advantage of OSS is flexibility. However, with this flexibility comes the need for a lot of getting started. If you are up for it, you will be in great shape. If you’re not, you’re better off going with a proprietary solution.


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