Cloud Hosting vs Self-Hosted eCommerce Platforms

eCommerce platforms have evolved from first being proprietary solutions to open source, self-hosted solutions to SaaS and headless commerce options. Cloud hosting is a very popular option, with the easy option of scaling to meet a store’s needs as traffic spikes.

And the most common eCommerce platforms offer frequent updates, automatic updates in some cases and plug directly into a business’s CMS.

Self-hosted versus cloud-hosted solutions should be a major consideration when choosing an eCommerce platform.

Self-Hosted Solutions for on-Premise Servers

Self-hosted solutions put all of the power in the hands of the store’s owner. The store owner will be responsible for:

  • Finding a hosting solution
  • Installing the eCommerce platform
  • Updating all software manually

Larger operations may have their own server which is managed or non-managed. With a managed solution, you’ll be paying someone to handle security and maintenance on a remote cloud server.

When dealing with open source solutions, self-hosting offers a fast, cost-effective way to get an online store up and running. The owner will be responsible for maintaining their site, and you’ll gain a fair better understanding of data security.

The benefit of a self-hosted platform is that you’ll be in charge of everything, so you really get a feel for how everything runs.

But you have to take time out of the day to manage server updates, crashes, attacks and a variety of other issues. When a small business owner spends more time on hosting than they do running their business, expenses soar and revenues fall.

Self-Hosted Solutions in the Cloud

Cloud hosting is an off-site solution where the capability of the servers is able to scale up and down as needed. When Black Friday or Cyber Monday are in session, cloud hosting will allow for your site to remain up and running.

Most providers of cloud hosted eCommerce platforms offer 99.99% uptime annually, so your site is able to stay online with very little room for error.

But with cloud hosting, your ecommerce software won’t necessarily receive automatic:

  • Installations
  • Patches
  • Upgrades
  • Updates

You’re still responsible for the maintenance of the software.

SaaS and Headless Solutions in the Cloud

If you want a hands-off eCommerce platform, your best bet is to choose a SaaS solution that is run on the cloud. These solutions are fully managed by the provider, so updates, installations and patches are deployed without you needing to lift a finger.

SaaS takes all of the hard work out of running an eCommerce store, and while you’re paying for the service, you’re also alleviating the time spent on maintaining your server.

But with SaaS, you do lose some of the flexibility and control that you have when running a self-hosted solution. On the other hand, you’ll have less control over the way your database is cached, and you may not have access to all of the log files that you have access to on your own server.

For maximum versatility, it might make sense to go for a new-fangled “headless ecommerce” solution, where you run your retail business on a SaaS platform and manage multiple storefronts on separate systems hosted by third-party platforms and/or using whatever tech configurations you like, simply connecting it all together with integrations, APIs and duct tape.

This way, you can run agile experiments with content media, new formats and digital direct selling presences, without any danger of ruining your inventory or credit card processing, for example.

The Best Platform for Your Needs

While development teams may be able to use this information and use advanced caching and redundancy measures, SaaS often eliminates all of these needs. The service provider will already be using redundancy and caching to ensure that your store is fast, available and can withstand large traffic spikes.


Alex is a small business blogger with a focus on entrepreneurship and growth. With over 5 years of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Alex has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, approachable and entrepreneurial-minded blogger. He has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners, and is able to provide actionable advice and strategies for success. Alex has interviewed successful entrepreneurs, and covered major small business events such as the Small Business Expo and the Inc. 500|5000 conference. He is also a successful entrepreneur himself, having started and grown several small businesses in different industries.