Today, e-commerce traders are spoilt for choice when it comes to setting up their shop: shop system solutions are a dime a dozen. However, not every type of shop system is suitable for every company. Factors such as budget, internal web development capacities and the complexity of the business must be taken into account in order to make an informed decision. So that you don't lose the overview, we have summarised the most important information on the different types of shop systems and their advantages and disadvantages.

Table of contents:

  1. What is a shop system?
  2. SaaS-Solutions (Software as a Service)
  3. On Premise-Solutions
  4. Open-Source-Shopsysteme
  5. CMS-Extensions (Plugin)
  6. Conclusion: What should traders look out for when choosing a shop system?

What is a shop system?

Shop systems are used by e-commerce companies as virtual trading places to offer products on the market. It is software that offers various functions to the online shop operator. For example, databases that record product information on the one hand and store administrative information on the other are made available. Furthermore, a shop system includes a display system for the products offered and interfaces to storage, distribution and various online payment methods. 

However, not all shop systems are the same. Functions and interfaces can vary greatly - and the general functionality of the software is not always the same. As a trader you have the choice: a complete solution through SaaS - or just a CMS extension? Find out now how these solutions differ and which one might be suitable for you. 

1. SaaS-Solution (Software as a service)

SaaS solutions are shop systems that can be rented by traders. They are based on a cloud. This means that the data is stored on an external server. To access the data, merchants only need an end device with access to the internet. They require little technical understanding to set up and can thus be operated by the traders themselves. Especially e-commerce beginners like to use this type of shop system solution. There are usually a few free layouts to choose from for the set-up, as well as various paid layouts that can be used after a one-time payment. 

One advantage of SaaS solutions is definitely the ease of use, which enables traders to set up an online shop within a very short time. In addition, they can choose from various packages with different services and releases depending on their needs and then adapt them to the shop's requirements.

One disadvantage, however, is that the possibilities for customisation are limited. Merchants have to come to terms with what is available to them and can therefore only contribute their own ideas to a limited extent.

Popular SaaS providers include Shopify, Jimdo, Gambio and Wix.

2. On Premise-Solutions

On Premise means that the software is developed "from scratch" in the company with a developer. On-premise solutions are the opposite of cloud-based solutions. The company purchases a software licence and takes care of the support and hosting in-house. The programme is hosted on the company's own servers. Because of this, the implementation of an on-premise solution is more extensive and costly. This solution is usually used by larger companies with higher data protection requirements. 

The advantage is that the in-house implementation of the software gives full control over the system and the data can also be accessed without an internet connection. 

The disadvantage is the high cost of personnel, support, maintenance and updates as well as the company's own responsibility for the data.

3. Open-Source-Shopsystem

Open source shop systems are freely accessible to everyone and are usually referred to as community editions. The initial idea of open source software was to create a collaborative working model in which many developers could work together on a project, as the source code is freely accessible and can be used, copied and shared by anyone, for almost any purpose. In the process, licence fees are waived.

Some providers also offer a paid version, which is considered the enterprise edition. The paid version includes support services such as professional customer service and assistance with the installation, configuration and maintenance of the online shop. If the company employs staff with programming experience, then changes to the code can also be made internally. Thus, companies with open source shop systems have the possibility to strongly individualise their online shop.

The elementary advantage of open source software is the saving of the licence fee, which is often high, especially for large companies. In addition, through free access for external programmers, who often contribute their own ideas, they promote innovation and the quality of the website, as every adaptation can be tracked.

One disadvantage is that although errors can be checked more quickly, the transparency of the shop also makes it more susceptible to hackers, as they can find the weak points more easily.

Popular open source shop systems include Magento, Orocommerce, XT:Commerce and Gamio GX3.

4. CMS-Erweiterungen (Plugin)

CMS (Content-Management-System) are applications that do not require intensive programming skills. CMS is an umbrella term and is composed of the content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA). The CMA allows content creators to directly manage the content themselves without having programming skills. The CDA is the back-end part of the website and enables access for people worldwide. Apart from that, the content of the website is based on HTML, JavaScript and PHP, but does not require any application on the part of the merchants. If merchants use a CMS as the basis for their shop, they can dispense with programming codes and focus primarily on creating the content. 

You can configure your website via a dashboard. This can be extended with functions (plug-ins) at any point. For example, contact forms, appointment calendars and newsletters do not have to be programmed separately, but can be easily integrated with an extension. In principle, CMSs can not only be used to set up an online shop, but can also be used flexibly. Classic websites, landing pages, blogs and much more can be built with a CMS. A CMS is used to separate the development of the site from the editorial work. This means that authors can easily add content to the website on the one hand and developers can work undisturbed on the programming on the other hand without consultation.

The advantages of a CMS are clearly its flexibility: since it is a web-based solution, the site can be accessed worldwide and can therefore also be edited by programmers from abroad. This goes hand in hand with a cost-effective creation of the website. Through the plug-ins, the site can also be easily expanded by non-professionals, thus saving time and money.

However, CMS also have limitations. Sites based on CMS are often targets of hackers and are thus exposed to a higher security risk. In addition, the extensions used often require regular updates and checks on their function, so a CMS is associated with an increased technical maintenance effort. Moreover, not all extensions are free of charge and the loading time is usually slower than with conventional websites.

Popular content management systems are WordPress, Wix, Joomla and Drupal.

Conclusion: What should traders look out for when choosing a shop system?

As you can see, there is a large selection of shop systems and providers. In order to find the right shop system for your online shop, you should first be clear about the exact requirements of your online shop and which functions you want to offer your customers on the website. The amount of support you need and the budget also play a big role in the decision-making process. Furthermore, some shop systems offer more customisation and flexibility, but require more external support and can generally be more time-consuming and costly. All in all, all types of shop systems have advantages and disadvantages that you should weigh up thoroughly before making a decision.

Do you have further questions about e-commerce logistics and interfaces between shop systems and warehouse management software? Feel free to make an appointment today for a free consultation with Warehousing1. One of our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.