Posted: 12/27/2010

Understanding PCI DSS Compliance

Free is a great word for businesses of any size - the less money that needs to be spent in order to make a company run, the better. Companies of all kinds are looking for ways to lower their costs, and many have begun to see advertisements for free eCommerce software and wonder if that might not be a place to save, a way to cut costs but still deliver functionality to customers. Though at first glance free eCommerce software can be appealing, there are a number of pitfalls that any company should be aware of before making the leap from a piece of provider eCommerce software to one that is "free". 1) Advertising Providers don't make eCommerce software without incurring some cost, which means that if they offer the software for free they must be making money somewhere. Often, this profit is made through the display of advertisements on any site that uses their platform, and are a requirement of this "free" software. These advertisements can not only drive customers away, but many contain ads for a competitor. 2) "Free" While free eCommerce software providers may give out the basic software at no cost, that doesn't mean it is a turn-key solution. In order to run a site, companies must buy web hosting - and often a free provider will want to sell this hosting at a substantial charge along with their "no-cost" product. In addition, any applications or additional functions that a company wants to have with their software will come at an addition - and often exorbitant - cost. A free solution might allow for basic shopping carts and a few themes, but truly customizable eCommerce solutions come with a dollar value attached. 3) Technology and Reliability Free eCommerce software inevitably runs on the last iteration of software technology, leaving a company one step behind what is current and often what customers expect. In addition, with no contract of any kind, a free provider has no obligation to guarantee uptime or functionality with different operating systems or environments, meaning that a free solution could suddenly stop working with no explanation and no easy fix. 4) Support Any eCommerce software that comes from a reputable provider will include support - and often 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Free solutions have no support whatsoever as the companies offering these solutions have no budget to help troubleshoot technical issues. This means any problems have to be solved in-house, costing both time and money. The simple fact is that "free" always comes with a cost and even a low-cost eCommerce software solution will offer better support, no mandated advertising, up to date technology and greater reliability.

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