Free ecommerce software and other mythsMyths.

The stuff legends are made of…

We all know that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real and that Paul Bunyan and his trusty sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox, are tall tales stretched to their absolute max. Then there’s the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, and of course a fire-breathing dragon or two out there. Let’s not forget about flying saucers and UFOs.

But what about the idea of free ecommerce software?

The world is full of myths, legends, and tall tales. “Free” ecommerce software is one of them. Don’t get me wrong–there is plenty of open-source code available on the Internet that you can use to develop an ecommerce site, but don’t let the lack of a monetary exchange fool you. It isn’t “free.”

“But that’s what free means,” you think to yourself. “This woman is crazy.”

Maybe. But what is your time worth? Presumably, you–or someone in your organization, possibly multiple someones–will need to acquire the open-source code and develop your ecommerce website.

How much is that time worth??

Consider that person’s hourly wage and the cost of their benefits, if appropriate, but also consider the time that same person could be spending on another revenue-driving project. Ecommerce drives revenue for sure, but not until it’s up and running and your customers are using it. Depending on who you have working on your open-source project, that could take awhile…

Which brings me to another reason open-source ecommerce software isn’t free: support. The old saying is you get what you pay for…and you’ll feel it the most when you need support to fix a bug or add a new feature. You’ll probably end up pulling out your wallet to pay an “expert” to help you out or wind up spending hours online searching forums for user-to-user help.

Does that “free” ecommerce software still feel free?

There is a definite place in the world of ecommerce for open-source ecommerce applications, but most companies don’t have the resources–budgetary or head count–to focus on something that isn’t in their area of expertise.

The solution? Calculate the actual costs of “free” ecommerce software and compare that number to the cost of choosing to work with an expert ecommerce provider and letting THEM make the magic happen.

Remember, just because money doesn’t change hands doesn’t mean it’s free.

Want to know what ecommerce success looks like? Check out this video about Akron Hardware’s recent success with launching a B2B ecommerce site.

Photo credit: BSABarnOwl