Free vs. Pay Monthly E-commerce Website Shopping Cart Solutions

Any e-commerce store owner that wants to take customer experience up a notch must integrate shopping cart software into their e-commerce platform. A shopping cart offers customers great convenience while shopping by allowing them to accumulate products they want to buy in a central location (add items to a cart) so that upon checkout, the software sums up the total price of the selected products, as well as handling and shipping cost. When choosing a shopping cart for your e-commerce store, you’re faced with two options:  A free shopping cart solution or a hosted shopping cart solution. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. In this column, we’re going break them down to you to allow you to make an informed decision:

Ecommerce website shopping cart solution: Cost

As the name suggests, free shopping cart software is free to use, which means you’ll not be subjected to any monthly payment once you implement it. On the flip side, hosted shopping cart software requires that you pay a recurring monthly fee to utilize it.

Ecommerce website shopping cart solution: Security

In the e-commerce business, security is a key consideration, which is why established e-commerce merchants keep the free shopping cart software at bay. In term of security, the free shopping cart software is not airtight. It’s too susceptible to hackers and clients are at a greater risk of losing their personal details or credit card information. The reason free shopping cart software is not safe is that it’s open source, which means any developer is free to modify and upgrade it. A hacker can easily disguise themselves as a developer and steal client information

Hosted shopping cart solution, on the other hand, comes along with tight security. The fact that you pay a recurring monthly fee means the provider wants you to stay happy. So the software receives regular updates and state of the art security features to keep hackers at bay.

Ecommerce shopping cart solution: Support

Hosted shopping cart providers have a dedicated team of developers on standby to help you if you encounter a glitch in the course of running your e-commerce store. With a free shopping cart solution, you’re always on your own when glitches manifest during the routine running of your e-commerce website.

Ecommerce shopping cart solution: Flexibility

A free shopping cart solution comes with a whole lot of flexibility. Since it’s open source software, you’re at liberty to tweak it, develop it further and maintain it. Essentially, you’re free to customize the shopping cart whenever you see fit. A hosted shopping cart solution, on the other hand, denies you the flexibility to tweak, develop and maintain it. If you’re a creative designer and like to experiment things, then this software limits you.

Ecommerce shopping cart solution: SEO

Most free shopping cart solutions are not optimized for SEO. SEO is critical to your e-commerce solution, as it determines your online visibility. And with killer competition in the e-commerce business, a low search engine ranking is a plus for your competitors. Hosted shopping cart solutions come fully optimized for SEO, which means your site will rank higher on Google when you implement the software. A higher rank means more organic customers to your e-commerce store, which translates to more conversions.

Ecommerce shopping cart solution: Updates

Hosted shopping cart solutions update themselves automatically, which means any breach or glitch is corrected instantly. This reduces your e-commerce store downtime that may come about as a result of addressing a glitch. On the other hand, a free shopping cart solution does not automatically update itself. You are entirely responsible for your own updates, which may cost you money.


This guide gives you a clear option to pick. While first-time e-commerce owners tend to choose the free solution, the risks are abundant. Established e-commerce solutions gravitate towards hosted solutions as they have all the resources to maintain them, plus they value the reputation of their businesses. You can also checkout Shopify for an online shopping cart system,  they offer great services!