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When choosing an eCommerce platform it can be extremely daunting; there are so many options out there. Most of your available choices can be grouped into one of three categories—all of which are mentioned in this blog title. Here I give an overview of each option and list what I consider to be the pros and cons.

Note that you should not listen to anyone who insists that one is “better” than the others. As with most things it’s a case of choosing the right tool for the right job and the person telling you this is no doubt doing so because it suits them and not you.

So, here are the three eCommerce platforms (in no particular order):


All websites are hosted somewhere; by “hosted” in this context I mean someone else hosts it for you. Hosted solutions mean you have no access to the software that runs your shop. This is all taken care of by the vendor. You just create an account and then immediately go in and start adding products. Most hosted solutions offer reasonably flexible templating systems that allow you to control most of the look-and-feel of your shop’s design. Hosted solutions require an ongoing monthly or annual cost.




With “off-the-shelf” you buy a piece of software (some are free, some are not) and install it and host yourself. This route will require more technical expertise but once up-and-running, unlike “hosted” platforms, you have complete control. Since you have access to the platform in its entirety you can generally customise the site to a greater degree. Functionality can be extended to a greater degree, usually through plugins. There will likely be a community of plugin developers and if you want something really niche you can commission your own plugin.




Bespoke means written for you. They’re unique and so it’s not possible to give an overview of the features.



General notes

Some general points:

I tend to take a pragmatic approach; I let the client tell me what their requirements are and then find the right tool for the right job.

To get an eCommerce site call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a freelance web designer from Leeds. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.