Pondering an Open Source Ecommerce Platform Read ThisAh, open source ecommerce software.

Music to a developers’ ears because they can see the source code for the software and make changes as needed.

And since open source ecommerce software is free, it should music to your budget’s ears, right?

Not exactly.

A recent article on TechRepublic by Justin James exposes the fact that just because you don’t have to purchase the software doesn’t mean that there aren’t costs associated with using that software. Here’s a direct quote. Hold onto your hat.

[Open source software platforms] may offer free community edition versions, but the vendors ride a fine line with making those useful enough to be used and crippled enough to encourage you to spend money. Many open source applications cost so much for a support contract that their closed source brethren actually have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Hmmmm. Crippled software?

Why would open source software providers give you just-barely-functional software to work with for free?

Simple.

Companies that offer open source versions of their software are in business like everyone else out there. Nobody ever paid the electric bill by giving away product–software or otherwise.

Open source applications support an entire industry of technical support and development professionals that specialize in making the “free” software work for you. You might not be paying the software provider for the code, but you are going to be paying to get it customized or tweaked to work for you.

So, does this mean that you should bypass open source software?

Not necessarily–but it is critical that you know the limitations of the software and  factor in the necessary dollars for technical support or contracted development help BEFORE you move forward. Shop around–you might be surprised.

In short, make sure that whatever software platform you choose gives you the features you want and a total cost of ownership that you can live with.

Ready to learn more about how to make your ecommerce initiative a raving success? Watch the on-demand webinar,  Ecommerce Website Best Practices today!

Photo credit: @boetter via flickr