Hosted or Self-Hosted eCommerce Platform: Make the Right Choice

Building an eCommerce business means making important decisions at every corner.

Which eCommerce platform to choose? What is the budget, and does that fit with the platform? How will you reach your target audience?

One of the crucial decisions you have to make in this labyrinth is choosing between a hosted and self-hosted platform. Both kinds of platforms have their fair share of pros and cons. However, how do you decide which list of pros weighs and aligns with your business better?

In this blog, we will help you answer this very question by exploring the key differences between hosted and self-hosted eCommerce platforms. Keep reading because it will make your decision process easier. 

Understanding Hosted and Self-hosted eCommerce Platforms

Let’s start with hosted eCommerce platforms. 

A hosted eCommerce platform is a type of eCommerce software that is hosted on the provider’s servers and accessed through a web browser. You do not need to install, update, or maintain any software on your server or computer. You sign up for an account, choose a plan, and start building your online store using the provider’s interface and tools.

This kind of eCommerce platform offers a range of plans and pricing options, depending on the features and functionalities you opt for. It also offers various templates, themes, and apps that you can use to customize and enhance your eCommerce store. 

Moving on to the self-hosted eCommerce platform. This platform is a type of eCommerce software that you need to download and install on your server or computer. The biggest advantage of this eCommerce platform is that you have full control and ownership over your online store, as you can access, modify, and customize every aspect of it. You will be responsible for managing and maintaining your server, software, security, and updates.

A self-hosted platform usually costs low to download and use, but it requires many additional costs for hosting, development, maintenance, and support. While you get the ability to customize everything based on your wants and needs, you will have to build the entire store from scratch. Is it worth choosing freedom of customization over not having to build the eCommerce storefront from scratch? 

The only way to know this is by exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms. While reading, make a mental note of which features or advantages suit you best for your eCommerce store.

The Advantages of a Hosted eCommerce Platform

Ease of Use

The best advantage of a hosted eCommerce platform is there are multiple templates, plugins, themes, and tools made available for you by the provider. This way, you do not have to worry about building your eCommerce storefront from scratch. You also do not need any technical skills or coding knowledge to set up and run your online store. 

You can use the provider’s drag-and-drop interface, tools, features, and themes to create and manage your eCommerce store with the utmost ease. 


With a hosted platform, you do not have to worry about the security of your online store, as the provider takes care of it for you. They handle the SSL certificates, PCI compliance, backups, and updates for you, ensuring that your store and your customers’s data are safe and secure.


You can rely on the provider’s customer support team to help you with any issues or questions. They also offer various resources, such as tutorials, guides, blogs, forums, and communities, to help you learn and grow your eCommerce storefront.


With the help of a hosted platform, you can focus solely on building your store without having to deal with anything back-end. You can easily scale your online store as your business grows without having to worry about server capacity, bandwidth, or performance. The provider handles the technical aspects of scaling your store for you, ensuring that your store can handle any amount of traffic and sales. 

The Disadvantages of a Hosted eCommerce Platform

Lack of Control

With this eCommerce platform, you have less to no control over your online store, as you are limited by the provider’s rules, policies, and restricted availability. You may not be able to customize or modify certain aspects of your store, such as the URL, the design, the functionality, or the code. You may also have to abide by the provider’s terms of service, which may affect your ownership, privacy, or data rights. 


With the lack of control comes less flexibility. You may not be able to integrate your store with other platforms, systems, or services that you use or need. You may also have to deal with the provider’s downtime, outages, or changes, which may affect your store’s availability and overall performance. 

Limits your Creativity

You have to select from the provided themes, choose from the provided plugins, and build a store with what is available on the platform. There will be very low chances of you building anything new for your store. This means that there is no potential to stand out based on your creative abilities. 


A hosted platform asks for a monthly or annual fee to use the provider’s service, which can vary depending on your chosen plan and features. You may also have to pay additional fees for using third-party apps, plugins, or integrations or for exceeding the provider’s limits on storage, bandwidth, or transactions.

The Advantages of a Self-hosted Platform


Unlike a hosted platform, you do not have to pay a recurring fee to use a self-hosted platform, as you own and host it yourself. You only have to pay for the initial download and installation. While you can save on transaction fees, you will have to invest in hosting, developing, maintaining, and building the website from scratch. (We know this was a mixture of a pro and a con, but if you favor freedom and customization, the cost of a self-hosted platform will be the best investment.)

Full Control

You have full control over your online store, as you can access, modify, and customize every aspect of it. You can choose your URL, design, functionality, and code, and you can make any changes or updates that you want. You also have full ownership, privacy, and data rights over your store and your customers’ data.

Flexibility and Customisation

Because you will have to build the eCommerce platform by yourself, self-hosted platforms offer unparalleled customization options. You do not have to limit your creativity only to themes and plugins that are available. This platform truly allows you to create an online store that speaks your name and is unique enough to stand out.

Disadvantages of a Self-hosted Platform

Technical Expertise Required

To build an eCommerce storefront from scratch, you need some technical skills and coding knowledge. You may also have to hire a developer or a team of designers to help you create and manage your eCommerce store. We recommend not doing everything by yourself and hiring an expert team. This will save you a lot of time. 


You have to take care of the security of your online store yourself, as you are responsible for the SSL certificates, PCI compliance, backups, and updates. You will have to ensure that your store and your customers’ data are safe and secure from hackers, malware, or breaches.


There will be no customer support team or professional team on the platform to help you scale your online storefront. As you will be responsible for the server capacity, bandwidth, and performance, you will have to ensure that your store can handle any amount of traffic and sales and that it does not crash. Also, you will have to upgrade or migrate your hosting, software, or hardware, which may incur additional costs and risks.

Now that we have a clearer idea of both platforms and their advantages and disadvantages, let us help you further to decide which platform you should choose.

Hosted vs. Self-hosted eCommerce Platform – Which One Should You Choose?

We will, of course, not give you a direct answer because, ultimately, the decision will be based on your unique business needs, goals, budget, and preferences. Here are some of the general guidelines that may help you decide.

You can consider choosing a hosted eCommerce platform if you-

  • Are you a beginner or have little to no technical skills or coding knowledge?
  • Want to set up and run your online store quickly and with ease?
  • Do not mind paying a monthly or annual fee for the service.
  • Do not need much customization or modification of your store.
  • Value security, support, and scalability over control and flexibility.

And you can consider opting for the self-hosted platforms if you- 

  • Are you an expert or have enough technical skills and coding expertise to build an eCommerce store from scratch?
  • Want to have full control and ownership over your online store?
  • Do not mind managing and maintaining your server and software.
  • Need a lot of customization or modification for your eCommerce site?
  • Value control and flexibility and do not mind taking responsibility for security, support, and scalability.

Additional Tips for Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform

Evaluate Features and Functionality

Research the features and functionality offered by different eCommerce platforms and determine which ones are essential for your business. Please make a list of must-have features and prioritize them when evaluating platforms.

Consider User Experience

Opt for a platform that offers a user-friendly interface, intuitive navigation, and mobile responsiveness. Test out the platform’s demo or trial version to experience the user interface firsthand and ensure it meets your expectations.

Consider Integration Capabilities

Evaluate the integration capabilities of each platform and check whether it supports seamless integration with essential business tools such as accounting software, email marketing platforms, CRM systems, and inventory management tools.

Assess the Total Cost of Ownership

When comparing eCommerce platforms, consider the total cost of ownership beyond just the initial setup fees. Take into account ongoing costs such as hosting fees, transaction fees, maintenance costs, and potential expenses for additional features or services. Calculate the total cost of ownership over the long term to ensure it fits within your budget and provides value for money.

Seek Recommendations and Reviews

Finally, seek recommendations and read reviews from other users, industry experts, and online communities to gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each eCommerce platform. 

Lastly, consider customization. For example, think how much you can change and connect your b2b eCommerce store with a self-hosted platform. This can make a big difference in how well your business works. 


Choosing the right platform will decide the future of your business, and it is a very difficult decision. However, if you follow this guideline, do your research, and make a pro-con list for your business, you will be able to make the decisions much easier than you think.

Once again, both platforms, hosted or self-hosted, are amazing. They offer many advantages so no decision is a bad decision. But iCreative Technologies advises you to make a smart decision based on your research. All the very best!

Bhavya Shah is a Business Analyst at iCreative Technologies. He specializes in the eCommerce consulting for all business domains. He is working hand-in-hand with developers and clients to produce requirements and specifications that accurately reflect business needs and are technologically achievable.

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