Software as a Service, often written as SaaS (but pronounced like “sass”), is becoming more and more common in the 21st century. Services like Office365, Google Office, Salesforce, and Dropbox are becoming a part of almost every business.
But what really defines SaaS?
What Is SaaS?
There are several key markers for SaaS:
It runs on a computer other than yours (usually on the web)
It requires no maintenance from you (no upgrading or installing)
It’s usually either free or has a relatively low monthly cost
The points above can bring quite different reactions from people, depending on what they value.
There certainly are both pros and cons to SaaS.
It usually doesn’t use a great deal of resources on your computer. You’re able to do more on smaller, cheaper computers (or hosting plans) without feeling like you’re going backwards.
You have limited responsibility for the application. If it breaks, it’s someone else’s responsibility to fix it, and you always have the latest version.
If there’s a fee, it’s usually quite low per month compared to hosting, upgrading, and maintaining the software yourself, and you can quit whenever you wish.
If there’s a network issue, your software isn’t available to you.
If it breaks, there’s usually nothing you can do about it; you simply have to wait for it to be fixed.
You never really own the software. You’re renting it.
Using SaaS software is similar in theory to owning a condominium. You never have to mow the lawn or fix the roof, but if you don’t like them you’re out of luck.
All this to say, SaaS is absolutely perfect for some people and completely wrong for others, and that’s just fine. The important thing is to figure out which is right for you.
How Does SaaS Work With Ecommerce?
Traditional ecommerce software packages run directly on your web server. Software like Magento, WooCommerce, OpenCart, and osCommerce are either purchased or downloaded for free and run on your own web server.
These have all the advantages and disadvantages of the old way of getting software and running it yourself.
The Current SaaS Model
An ecommerce SaaS would be something like BigCommerce or Shopify. These services allow you to come to their website, sign up, pay a monthly fee, and build a store.
Since ecommerce is all they do, they’re extremely good at it. Focusing on one area, however, can lead to weaknesses in others.
For instance, the blogging tools in an ecommerce SaaS solution can be... lackluster.
The Coming CaaS Model
In order to allow for more flexibility, companies like BigCommerce are changing their Software as a Service model into a Commerce as a Service model. This allows the merchant to use all of the powerful ecommerce tools in any way they want, rather than only through the custom website provided.
An excellent example is BigCommerce’s new WordPress plugin. It uses the APIs (Application Program Interfaces) available from BigCommerce to allow merchants to offer their products directly in their WordPress sites.
Additionally, since CaaS simply works over their APIs, their CaaS offerings can work in any CMS like Drupal, and any programming platform, such as .net or node.
Advantages of CaaS
Companies like BigCommerce have an enormous amount of experience in the ecommerce world. They’ve taken the time to build solid integrations with hundreds of other services for things like shipping, taxes, and payment gateways, not only in the US, but all over the world. They’ve spent time and money building an extremely fast, secure, and stable platform.
BigCommerce’s average uptime of more than 99.99%, compared to 99.5% for the ecommerce industry as a whole, is the difference between your online store being down only minutes per year, versus nearly two days. Combining that with 100% availability during Cyber Week the last four years running, shows a rock solid system to build your store on.
Using the CaaS model to combine these features with the power of WordPress for managing content increases the power of your store exponentially. Google loves WordPress, so combining your content marketing and your ecommerce on a single site will do wonderful things for your SEO.
The Bigger Picture
With the advent of CaaS, your ecommerce strategy becomes much bigger than selling products on your website. By using BigCommerce as a commerce engine, you can not only sell your products on your store but also on Amazon, Facebook, and many OTHER websites you own.
Now you have multiple income channels that you can test across and see which ones produce the most sales and groom them.
BigCommerce entering the WordPress space as a serious ecommerce option is certainly a big deal, there’s no question. But the bigger deal is the sheer breadth of options that come with their new CaaS model. What will you build with it?
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