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Open Source – When Your Free Ride Is Charging You

When listening to a presentation of a partner at this week’s ecommerce conference in Paris, this sentence fell: “If someone does not want to pay for a professional solution for conversion, we implement open source.” So I thought to myself: Is this really just about money? And yes, if it is an issue of money, one could say easily that open source is for free, and costs nothing.

When looking at ecommerce platforms on the market, if someone does not want to invest in their shop would they simply use open source and then get what they want? A costless solution. Would this choice then really mean never to pay anything? When considering Magento for example, who would say every retailer that chose Magento as a platform for their webshop, did not pay anything for it?

Maybe not for the software, for the core to start with, but what about the implementation of an open source solution and its maintenance. Is this also for free? Of course not. There will be an agency or internal technicians involved in customizing and working hard (and ongoingly) to get the best out of the solution. This creates costs, often even quite high costs, and also dependency on people.

When “for free” becomes the expensive alternative

And who would say that they choose Magento because it was for free? I believe this is too easy. Of course functionality as well as the “handiness” of the software is also an aspect, and an even more important one is the financial. And of course the benefits that the software is expected to bring to a retailer. Magento is not just a free solution, it is also a good solution.

Considering the financial issue of the open source solution, your expenses might not always be crystal clear to you. Over time it will slowly deplete your budget through costs of which you are unaware; thus making it hard to discover the best solution.

So would you rather prefer something that is for free to start with and then will create incalculable costs for an uncertain time period. Or would you want to go for calculable costs at the start and get a stable solution, running on its own without further costs? I would also choose the latter one.

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