What is the difference between a SaaS Platform and Fully Customizable eCommerce Solutions?

Are you a little confused with all of the eCommerce software on the market today?  There are hundreds of them… literally.  Who has time to go through and research all of the options?!  To complicate matters even more, it can seem like the best of the solutions, the Top 10, for example, are so similar… it’s hard to choose which would be the best for your business!  Well, to get started, before you even start to look at features, you’ll have to decide if you want your internet business to run on a SaaS Platform or with fully customizable eCommerce solutions.  Here’s where the fun begins.

We all know there are a number of factors that shape your needs.  All online stores are different, which is an important consideration to remember when deciding to set up an eCommerce business. Think in terms of development, operation, and maintenance, along with the requirement for ongoing marketing. Choosing a popular eCommerce solution that doesn’t match your current situation could easily throw water on all your efforts.  Make sure you are not underestimating the resources that will be required to maintain your unique store and you should be able to pick the right eCommerce solution, the first time around.

SaaS (Software as a Service) and customizable platforms are the two main platforms for small-to-medium eCommerce solutions (and enterprise, btw). In case you don’t quite ‘get’ what that means, let’s go over the basics.  What are they?  How they differ from each other? And which one of them will work best in your particular online store?

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both the SaaS and the fully customizable eCommerce solutions so that you can make a well-informed decision.


SaaS (Software as a Service) Platforms

Most SaaS-based eCommerce solutions offer a relatively low-cost entry for retailers and aim to be relatively simple to use. If you’re in a situation where building and operating a full-fledged eCommerce store of your own sounds just too much, you could turn to the SaaS platform. Choosing this option instead of one of the fully customizable eCommerce solutions allows you to avoid the technical burdens and focus on the most essential aspects of your business – the ones that create more revenue.

A SaaS-based eCommerce solution takes care of:

  • Hosting
  • Data center selection
  • Server procurement
  • Networking
  • Software installation
  • Upgrades
  • Security

shutterstock_244795618If you’re still in the process of building the capabilities of your eCommerce business and need to focus on business growth first, a SaaS platform may be a good option. It’s the answer to your prayers for a quick-time launch.

Though a SaaS-based eCommerce platform is good for start-up companies in so many ways, it also comes along with some downsides. Since you’re using a third-party storefront application, you’ll find your hands tied in areas like customization and integration. You can only make use of features and tools that the software you chose decides to offer you.  As your online store grows or if you want a specific look or feature, you may face a number of issues and difficulties on SaaS-based platforms. Another issue that arises with a SaaS is the cost model.  Many charge a percentage of your revenue, which will add up quickly.  As you continue to grow your business and start earning more, you may end up paying more and more to the platform than you feel is justified.


Fully Customizable eCommerce Solutions

In contrast to the restrictive SaaS eCommerce model, fully customizable and self-hosted store builder platforms come along with plenty of flexibility and customization options. This, in turn, means you can lend your online store any kind of look or feel you want. If your business model is unique or you want your eCommerce site to function exactly in the way you want, fully customizable eCommerce solutions are made for you.

A fully customizable eCom software allows you to easily add custom functionalities and features or perform tasks like:

  • Advanced search features
  • Product personalization
  • Software integration
  • Custom bundles
  • Omni-channel selling with POS systems

Fully Customizable eCommerce SolutionsWith a fully-customizable eCommerce solution, you don’t need to worry about the biggest sales days in your business. You’ll have adequate infrastructure to deal with the same while controlling your performance directly.

Are fully customizable eCommerce solutions the right solution for your eCommerce business? Well, it depends! Building your own customizable platform may demand a higher level of time investment to get started. Initially, you’ll have to find the elusive eCommerce software that is not SaaS or purchase a licensed software that fits the bill.  Then, you’ll need to have a lot of tech skills or work with a system integrator to develop the site for you.  If you purchased a licensed software, you’ll need an expertly managed hosting provider to look after the hosting part. Technically, you’ll have a lot of responsibilities to handle on a regular basis. You may even need to develop your own skills or have an in-house IT team to manage things efficiently as your business expands.  Many online retailers feel a fully customizable software is the only way to go.  They’re not willing to give-up customizations for convenience.


The Other eCommerce Platform Option

Fortunately, there are web store builder software that fall somewhere in the middle of convenient and customizable.  PinnacleCart eCommerce web store builder is one of those few examples that deliver the best of both worlds and can fit the needs of a start-up, or a million dollar retailer.  They include the perks that come with both SaaS and customizable software and more.  According to PCmag.com, they are an excellent choice for those needing customization options, blended with ease-of-use.

Features you’ll find with PinnacleCart include but are not limited to:

  • Easy Store Set-up
  • An Intuitive Back-end Dashboard
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Hosting and Data center selection
  • Server procurement and Networking
  • Upgrades and New Releases
  • High Level PCI-compliant Security
  • Advanced search features
  • Product personalization
  • Marketing tools
  • Analytics
  • Cross-channel Selling
  • Social Selling
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • SEO tools
  • Software integrations
  • Custom bundles
  • Omni-channel selling with POS systems



Different choices need to be made in different circumstances but for many, an all-in-one option is the way to go. You should make your decision keeping in mind important factors like size of the site, amount of traffic and the level of complexity, among others. If you’re a very unique online business or hope to grow your business substantially over the next couple of years, it may be best to choose one of the well-reviewed, almost fully customizable eCommerce solutions option. Keep in mind that there are options that merge the two worlds, however.  The world of eCommerce is ever improving so you don’t have to find yourself cornered with something that doesn’t fit your needs exactly.  In whichever model you choose, make sure your company is an experienced and reliable partner – that is something that will always work to your advantage.

Back to the Pinnacle Cart Homepage