Why Open Source Is An Experts Choice For Ecommerce Vs Hosted Platforms

If I were a cockatiel my crown would stand up straight when reading articles comparing web hosting sites like Shopify to WordPress.

cockatiel with crown up


There are other examples but to start because it appears that many people don’t understand the cord differences.


Shopify is a hosted platform.


You rent their servers, use their templates and are beholden to their support.


I think Shopify has about 600,000 stores right now.


WordPress is open source – it’s free, anyone can start a WordPress site although they will lead a host with the server to mount it on.


There are about 77,000,000 WordPress sites globally – about 1/3 of all internet sites.



You can add a Woocommerce plug-in to make the WordPress site function as an e-commerce site similar to Shopify.


From Wikipedia, we learn: WooCommerce has over 39 million downloads as a plugin and is currently active on more than three million websites and is the most popular eCommerce platform in 2018. WooCommerce has approximately 4% of the top million HTML pages.

End Wikipedia


If you had to identify the single largest difference between the two, you do not own all of your data on hosted platforms.



You own all of your data on open source platforms.


You don’t own your reviews, nor your customers reward points data on a hosted platform.


There’s no way to export the data out of a hosted site system.


I rudely learned this when we were migrating from 3DCart a hosted platform to Zen cart an open-source platform.


3DCart offered an integrated blog.


We are experts at content marketing and for our primary business of pet supplies for birds we push out anywhere from 1000 to 6000 words weekly on our bird care blog.


When we began the migration from 3-D cart to Zen cart we were not able to easily move any of our blog posts and were forced to hand scrape them.

No RSS feed to pull from, no database to download.


Resulting in having to pay three individuals for a copy and paste of each and every blog post (at the time there were about 900 a close to 1 million words)


For safety, we first, placed them each in their own Google doc (which is how we got our word counts) and then moved them to WordPress which was later integrated with our Zen cart store.


We had to manually re-add all the images and videos as well.


Today we are in the process of migrating from our Zen cart/WordPress hybrid to a WordPress Woocommerce site meaning that all we have to do is move the databases via cPanel.


We’ve been on six or seven different platforms with probably 10 or 12 hosts over the years so to quote Farmer’s insurance “we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”


Before I was fully sold on open source I checked with hosted platforms like Shopify.


An e-commerce site must be up and error-free at all times.


If you have a problem, competent support is essential.


I had a simple “support test.”


I called Shopify four times and others like Wix.com and Weebly.com.

Once midday midweek, later about 1 AM midweek.

Then midday on the weekend and 3 AM on the weekend too.

Most remarkable was all four interactions resulted with the kids running their support, arguing with me.


First of all, I’m a 67-year-old angry (hey kids get off my lawn) guy.


You’ll never win an argument with me, especially with (at that time) 14 years of e-commerce experience running and earning a living from Ecommerce.


After each “thread” Shopify submitted a survey to rank the support I had received.


Here’s the resulting thread from someone in sales at Shopify who was clearly intent on changing my mind.




“I am looking at our back-end and see that you’d shared your bad experience with Mili from our team. A parrot was my first pet and so I went on to www.windycityparrot.com. I saw you’re running Zen Cart still. How is that experience?


Past merchants I’ve worked with have expressed their concerns about costly development resources and instability – which prevent them from growing their business. Curious to know if you’ve faced similar challenges?


If this sounds worth a 15 minutes chat, you can reply to this email or use this link to schedule a convenient time for us to speak”.





Sorry I’ve become an open-source disciple – building a woocommerce store as we speak


You (Shopify) have missed the WordPress integration on the Zencart site.





I did see it. What made you switch allegiance?




15 years of arguing with support on hosted platforms – if I didn’t get answers or fixes I’d have to migrate (6 times)


With open-source, you can fire and replace your developer(s) but the site stays


I tried to move to Shopify – I made 4 pre-sales calls to support – all ended up in an argument


Question to Shopify “how do you handle my getting blacklisted because another store on a shared server gets blacklisted – how do you fix this”?


Shopify Answer “That can never happen – we own the servers”.


I don’t want dumbasses young enough to be my grandchildren responsible for my cash flow.


BTW that question came for Shopify support forums where it is a huge problem.




I can understand your frustration and am sorry about the unpleasant service experience.


There are, of course, inherent benefits to Hosted vs Open Source/ self-hosted, that you seem well aware of.




Could you elaborate on the question?


What sort of blacklist are you referring to (can’t browse to site, can’t send mail, selling things that are in a grey area.. etc).


Typically we try and maintain the reputation for our shared services, but if selective domains are blacklisted by third parties, that isn’t within our control.


Eg: the Russian ban on cannabis shops. If a shop’s domain is blacklisted (from, say, browsing to it), then no it does not impact any other shops.


In general, we’ve made multiple changes to infrastructure and security in the recent past, including a move to Google Cloud since your last interaction, so there will be new information that I could share. We have more than 600,000 e-commerce stores on our platform, not a single one went down last year on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.



You are now the 5th person at Shopify who doesn’t understand this core issue with shared servers that are talked about in your own support forums and almost every other hosting forum on the planet.


Sharing a server means sharing an IP.


If a dumbass store owner gets blacklisted from an IP, the whole server gets blacklisted.


Your boy’s response was “that can never happen we own our own servers”.


I don’t want to be talking to Jr. when my site is going down from brute force attacks out of Russia and China.


Further, Shopify has dropped support for selling on WordPress.


I get 40,000 organic monthly visitors on my WordPress blog alone.


Why would I want to give up 40,000 FREE laser-focused monthly visitors?


You are all buffoons.


I’ll take my chances in the 77,000,000 site WordPress ecosystem.


You have annoyed me enough – we’re done here.


Watch the Woocommerce build live.

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