Jamersan | Magento and BigCommerce Elite Partner Agency

SaaS vs Open Source eCommerce – What is essential for your business in 2022?

SaaS or Open Source – The Main Consideration

The main thing to remember with SaaS platforms is that they provide hosting for your eCommerce store, but this comes at a cost. In fact, you may find this really adding up when you consider the annual fees for domain name, URL, and whatever third-party apps and add-ons you will require. Open source platforms are always free, but they will require a lot more input on your part; so as is often the case, it will depend on the level of technical expertise at your disposal which one is best to go for.

What Do We Mean by a SaaS Platform?

Saas means Software as a Service, and basically means there is a monthly fee for software that is readily available to adapt for your needs with no coding knowledge required. This is the right platform for you if your business needs are relatively simple and you are looking for a template for your eCommerce space that will enable you to get going quickly. The drawback is there is little flexibility on offer, but if this is not a problem for you, then it is still a great solution.

What Is Meant by an Open Source Platform?

An open source eCommerce platform is essentially a platform that allows limitless flexibility based on your requirements and the skill level of your certified developers. If your business operations will require you to make alterations to the platform that will not be possible through an SaaS solution, then open source is the route you should take. There is no subscription fee, and you will be able to customize your online store as much as you need to.

SaaS and Open Source Platforms – How They Differ

Getting Your eCommerce Business Started

If you want to get your eCommerce business up and running straight away, then it’s a no-brainer; a SaaS platform is the way to go. Everything is already in place for you to put your online business out there. Open source platforms require a lot more work from a web developer before they are good to go, but if you need to customize the platform, then you will just have to spend that extra time doing so.

Maintaining Your Site

As with most considerations, the SaaS eCommerce platform, when it comes to maintenance, does not rely on you being a tech wizard. Open source eCommerce software relies on every aspect of maintenance being done by you. This is basically the difference, and so the best solution for your eCommerce site should be based on the amount of flexibility you both require and are able to implement yourself or through your team.

Keeping Your Site Secure

Ok, so you are starting to get the picture by now. Site security is a crucial aspect of your considerations, and SaaS software providers will take care of all of this for you; whereas with an open source platform, it is on your shoulders to make sure you have an up-to-date security certificate and will not be at risk of harmful attacks from hackers.

Third-Party Features and Customization of Your Site

In terms of customization, of course having full access to the source code through an open source platform will mean that the level to which you want to customize the site is completely up to you and the capabilities of your team. However, it is always worth remembering that sometimes if a site has too many features, it can be both slow to load and maybe even a little overwhelming for the user. As well as making use of your team’s talents, you have to ensure the customer experience is pleasant.

With SaaS platforms, the customization possibilities will be limited. If this is not going to be an issue for you and you just want to get going quickly, then you know what to do. A SaaS eCommerce store will still have all of the basic functionalities you need, but will have fewer possibilities, and you may not be able to put quite as much of your own stamp on it as you would through an open source platform.

Integration With Other Software

If you are looking to integrate an inventory management system, payment options, and other features from third parties, you will have to look at how this may affect the overall performance of your site. Sometimes through open source platforms, this will require a huge amount of work and can be difficult to maintain when there are upgrades. Therefore, you need to make sure you have done your research and done the hard yards early on to ensure ongoing issues will be minimal.

Through SaaS solutions you will have certain integrations to choose from, and these will be less of a headache as the hard work has already been done. Again though, the lack of flexibility may be an issue, and this is what you should base your decision on.

Charges per Transaction

SaaS provider hosts will usually charge a transaction fee per sale. Then, depending on which gateway you use, there may be additional fees and shipping, so it can seem like you are making very little profit. However, there can be hefty commission fees when you use a third-party gateway through your open source platform, so there may not be much difference in the fees. You’ll want to run some tests on your products and transactions to get more details.

How Much Will It Cost?

When it comes to adding up the total costs, SaaS platforms generally just have a monthly fee. You will only need to add on the cost of any additional apps or other software when figuring out how much it will cost, and there are not usually hidden charges. With open source you will need to cover all costs yourself, although the actual hosting is free. There is licensing, development and maintenance, security, and all manner of other things to think of. This may end up being a more costly option after all, despite the free hosting, but the right eCommerce platform for you all depends on what your requirements will be.

Some of the Best Open Source Platforms

Magento Community Edition

Magento is seen by many as an industry leader when it comes to open source platforms. This is due to the wealth of features it provides, including the ability to manage multiple stores at once and to go truly international with different languages and currencies. There are also a huge number of additional apps and plug-ins on offer along with the Magento Community, where you can find the answers to pretty much any query you may have. However, the main drawback is the cost. All of these features naturally come at a price, and so until your business grows, this may not be the best solution.


WooCommerce is another popular platform, where you will have the support of a developer to create your eCommerce site as well as a vast community of users. It certainly stands up in terms of functionality, and there are plenty of integration possibilities. Where WooCommerce perhaps falls back a little is that there is no cloud storage option, and so you will have to go through a hosting company, which can be expensive.


Shopware is not as big a player in the eCommerce market as some of the other popular open source solutions, but it is definitely growing and is being used by more and more businesses. There is professional support available in the development of your site, as well as use of a number of modern technologies that have a lot of potential for customization to create an impressive eCommerce experience for your customers.

Some of the Best SaaS Platforms


Shopify is the biggest SaaS platform in the eCommerce industry today. Despite having a degree of limitation that comes from not being an open source platform, there are still thousands of templates to choose from as well as plenty of features; and if your business grows, you can consider using Shopify Plus, which will offer plenty more options.


BigCommerce has a whole host of features available, which of course is a good thing but can also be quite overwhelming if you are just looking to get started quickly. If you have ambitious ideas but limited technical knowledge, this could be a great solution for you.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce does have a lot of integration possibilities and plenty of neat marketing features to help you maximize sales. However, it is more expensive than some of the other SaaS solutions, which is something to be considered.

To Summarize

Benefits of SaaS Solutions


Because SaaS platforms require no coding knowledge and are based on templates that you can customize to fit your business needs, you will be able to get set up and start selling very quickly.


You do not have the headaches of constantly having to maintain your site that you would with an open source platform, and so you can focus on what is most important: selling and marketing.


If you want to add new features to your site, this will also be pretty straightforward. You can choose from features that are part of the package or can pay more if there are any additional features that would boost your site. It’s all about ease.

What Is Not So Good About SaaS Platforms?


As you start to increase your sales and want to expand your eCommerce site, you may find that you are having to pay more for the additional features and apps that will enable this to happen. These costs can add up and may require a consistent large volume of sales to see the benefit.


You are limited in what you can do with a SaaS platform. With some of these platforms, there are a lot of templates and features to choose from; but you are still restricted to a degree, and in the longer term, you may wish to consider moving to an open source platform in order to gain maximum flexibility.

Benefits of Open Source Platforms


Essentially, the main reason an open source platform can be the best eCommerce solution is that it provides complete control to you as the developer. There is no monthly subscription fee, so you only pay for what you need, and you can choose exactly how your site will look and the features it will have.

What Is Less Good About Open Source Platforms?


There may be no hosting fees with open source platforms, but in order to get the best features, you may still find yourself having to pay a lot of money.


When you are in control, this also means you will have to invest a lot of time in the different aspects of site development and maintenance, which can mean less time to focus on your core business activities.


When using an open source platform, you will need to be constantly on the lookout to ensure there are no maintenance issues and will have to know you can access tech support any time of day or night when required. Site issues mean an impact on sales, which you simply cannot afford.


You will need to ensure your site has watertight security before it goes live, which means you will need to spend a lot of time up front making sure this happens. In contrast to a SaaS platform, through which this is all taken care of, you will need to ensure your site remains secure at all times.


Through a SaaS platform everything is there for you, whilst through open source everything needs to be coded, and this takes a lot of time. All of these drawbacks are offset by the level of control you have, and so the simple question would be is it worth it?

Why Open Source Is the Choice of Industry Leaders

When starting out in eCommerce, many business owners will go for a SaaS platform simply because the level of coding knowledge required for open source seems daunting. However, to be a true leader in eCommerce, over time your site may need the degree of flexibility that is only possible through an open source platform so that you can stand out in a hugely competitive field. Creating an open source website is a time consuming process, but as the saying goes, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. This is why open source will likely always be the choice of the biggest companies.

After reading this, if you’re still not sure which way to go, give us a call. One of our eCommerce consultants will be happy to talk you through your options.

Our Leadership

TJ Gamble


Shane Rodgers

Director, Operations

Alex Schreck

Director, Sales & Partnerships

Dave Christy BigCommerce & Adobe Expert

Dave Christy

Director, Delivery