We are nearing the end of of a project to develop a self-hosted WordPress e-commerce website. However, these days, partly based on the length of this project, I am leaning toward recommending against building any type of self-hosted website, e-commerce or otherwise.
The emergence of hosting applications in the cloud has become a model that makes a lot of sense, because it eliminates any need to ever have to update the software or worry about security, as that is all handled on the server side by the cloud hosting company.
Many options exist, but the bottom line is that software has always become outdated the moment you install it, so a system that eliminates that aspect and let’s you focus on running the business makes sense, especially if it cuts down site development time and dependence on an individual person.
I have been working with WordPress as a self-hosted website application for a couple of years and am constantly having to back-up databases and upgrade the software application installations and the associated templates and plug-ins, which is not always a smooth transition, so a cloud-based system that eliminates a lot of the technology aspect let’s you focus on your strengths instead of stuff you don’t understand.
I would rather be dependent on a big, successful cloud service that is not going away anytime soon than an individual web programmer, such as myself, that may or may not be able to keep up with the ever-changing world of web technology.
With a cloud-based e-commerce solution, you would basically just need to upload your products and set your categories, because the site and shopping cart will already be built and connected to a payment processor.
Of course, there is more to it than that, but it illustrates the essential difference between building a store on an empty lot, from the ground up, or merely moving into a an existing shopping center with all of your inventory and commerce infrastructure in place.
Many of the cloud-based shopping carts already work with PayPal accounts or have self-contained merchant accounts available for transaction processing.
I suspect a cloud service will not be perfect and may have a few drawbacks, but no perfect solution exists, so it comes down to trying to eliminate as many aspects of the situation that take away from focusing on your core business and strengths, and giving yourself as much control of your own destiny as possible.