Choose Open Source or Proprietary Software for E-Commerce Website
Choosing between an open source and proprietary software for your e-commerce business is a dilemma that IT decision makers commonly have to go through. There is no right answer to the question as there is an endless debate over the issue. But if you ask which one is better for your kind of e-commerce set-up then probably we can help you find the right answer.
There is no inherent advantage in an open source or proprietary software. So the choice has to be need based and must be taken while keeping in view the inherent strengths and priorities of the end user. Besides, you need to take into account how much you are looking to spend, what kind of programming talent you have within your organization and the most important features you intend to include in your e-commerce program.
Here we will do a quick comparison between open and proprietary software with regard to the following metrics that matter to an e-commerce business.
Initial or Upfront Costs
A proprietary software is much easier to set-up and install and the cost is low as well. If you require a bit of customization, this may go up a bit, but is still less than what you spend on implementing open source e-commerce software. It is quite costly to implement open source e-commerce software primarily because you would need to customize the code and integrate your template into it. Once you are done with customization and integration both testing and implementation requires considerable time and resources. It also usually involves a lot of back and forth. Proprietary software comes more as ready to use package and you save considerable time and resources in setting things up.
The features of proprietary software are more or less standard and would have all what an end user would typically expect. There is neither much scope nor a need as well to customize proprietary software. While, the best part of open source software is that it empowers to custom code and get the features designed, exactly the way you want. This does cost incremental money but allows you to differentiate your e-commerce software than what otherwise would exist with most users.
Support or Maintenance
When you license proprietary software you basically stay away from all the maintenance issues. Any support that you need is just a call away and very efficient as well. The vendor would also provide user guides and proper training to ensure utmost convenience.
In open source software, things can get messy if you are looking for support. There is nobody responsible who can help you immediately when you need them. You probably have to push your queries through several forums before you get the solution for your problem.
For open source software the end user has to take up the responsibility of integrating custom codes to the newer versions. In case of proprietary software, the newer versions that carry more advanced features will be handled by the vendor.
Third Party Software Integration
This is where open source software is more versatile. Since the code is available to e-commerce developer, he has the liberty of integrating any third party software to his e-commerce software. This may not be possible for the user in case of proprietary software. Integration is actually restricted in proprietary software to only pre-approved software providers.
The hosting charges, in most cases, are a part of the license fees in case of proprietary software, while in open source software, hosting has to be managed independently and you would have to pay for it separately.
What is the right choice for your e-commerce website?
The point that basically comes out from the discussion above is e-commerce business owners who would like to stay away from the hassles of developing and supporting software related issues, should go for hosted or proprietary software. With a few customizations, you can use an off-the-shelf solution to fulfil your requirements.
An open source is the best choice for those who are essentially looking to have features beyond generally offered by proprietary ones. But in order to successfully accomplish this, e-commerce business owners should be cognizant of the fact that it requires enormous commitment and resources such as in-house software team with PHP developers having expertise in the open source cart that you choose to use for your e-commerce software and this has to be backed up with enough financial support. Or, you need to get in touch with an experience e-commerce development company that offers open source programming.
Both open source and commercial software have their strengths and have a place on the market. The answer to choose between open source and proprietary software lies with the specific circumstances or requirements that a customer may face, rather than in the inherent nature of either model.