BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

What is SaaS (Software as a Service)?

A SaaS business provides customers with software services over the internet. The typical SaaS business model is subscription-based. That means a customer signs up with the SaaS business and can then use their software for as long as they maintain their subscription.

Generally, SaaS subscribers don’t have to invest in much infrastructure to run the solutions they subscribe to. It’s the SaaS businesses that host the software tools in the cloud and provide access to their customers.

Say, for example, you run a contact center. Your telephony and communication software will probably get provided on a SaaS basis. You’ll sign up with a SaaS company that then hosts the solution on your behalf and allows you to add many users all of whom can access and use it.

What are the Advantages of SaaS?

Next, it’s time to consider what SaaS can do for you and what kinds of benefits come along with switching over to using SaaS ecommerce. Below are the top four advantages of using SaaS.

You can get access anywhere.

Traditional on-premises solutions are restricted to the place where they’re physically installed. Since they rely on hardware, they aren’t always portable and can’t work from just any location.

SaaS solutions are the opposite. Given that SaaS is a cloud-based approach, it’s easy to access your SaaS products from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. You don’t need to install hardware to use them, since they’re hosted online.

What this means in practice is that SaaS empowers employees to work from anywhere, including on the go. They can access SaaS platforms from mobile devices, personal devices, laptops, desktops, tablets and any other internet-capable equipment. This boosts workplace flexibility and makes it easier for employees to stay connected wherever they are.

Thanks to this flexibility, SaaS solutions also make for some of the best customer support software out there. That’s because they enable customer support agents to connect with customers across platforms and regardless of location.

You can scale your business easily.

With traditional on-premises solutions, scaling up isn’t exactly an overnight deal. You’ve got to indicate how many new users you’d like to add to the business network, pay for the relevant equipment — bearing in mind that each individual new employee needs their own hardware — and arrange for installation to take place.

All of that takes time, not to mention money. That’s why it’s a relief to know that SaaS solutions are designed to be highly scalable.

Thanks to the fact that they’re based in the cloud, SaaS solutions don’t need to be installed by experts. Anyone who’s purchased access can simply install the relevant SaaS app on their devices, log in and start using the solution straight away.

This makes SaaS solutions well suited to startups, as well as small and medium-sized businesses looking to scale up. They’re also useful for enterprises that are continuing to grow, as they can support that kind of scaling.

You don’t have to worry about IT maintenance.

This is a major reason why SaaS is a viable option for businesses of all kinds — all IT maintenance is handled by the provider when you use a SaaS solution.

Let’s put that into context.

If you’re using a traditional solution, you’ll need to handle its upkeep yourself. That means that anytime something breaks or needs to be upgraded, the responsibility for this will fall to your company.

You can’t outsource the IT maintenance of traditional solutions unless you’re renting the equipment from a company that expressly states they’ll handle all maintenance for you (which wouldn’t be profitable to them, so those tend to be hard to come by).

Now consider SaaS solutions. Since they’re hosted in the cloud, there’s no new IT equipment that needs to get set up in your office. That means there’s no new IT maintenance to handle.

Your provider will manage all cloud-related maintenance. This makes SaaS solutions more attractive to anyone who doesn’t have room in their budget for extra maintenance, upkeep and upgrading costs.

You can save up on hardware costs.

We’ve mentioned a few times that SaaS doesn’t come with new hardware costs, so we’ll go into more depth on that here. SaaS solutions help you save on hardware costs for a simple reason: they don’t rely on hardware.

When you install SaaS solutions on your devices, you’re adding a functionality to the equipment you’re already using instead of acquiring a new piece of equipment to perform a specific function. This means you get to keep using the devices you already own, ensuring you’ll save on hardware costs in both the long and the short term.

For example, when you use modern SaaS solutions like Dialpad, you get to take advantage of the hybrid cloud architecture they offer to get access to an all-inclusive communications hub. This works across your devices, ensuring you can easily connect with anyone, from anywhere, by any means.

What are the Challenges of SaaS?

Of course, SaaS isn’t a perfect ‘one size fits all’ solution that works for every single business or individual.

Before you take the leap and invest in SaaS solutions for your company, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and obstacles that often come with using SaaS. Below are the top three most common — and most prominent — difficulties that arise with SaaS.

These challenges may also be overcome depending on the specific provider you choose. We’ll cover that in more detail shortly though.

Internet speed can be your enemy.

SaaS is reliant on the internet. It’s fully cloud-based, ensuring that you can log in and access it from anywhere… if you’re able to connect to the Internet. In the event that you’re unable to connect to the internet, you’ll be unable to access your SaaS service. That means you can’t log in at all.

Internet speed also has a major impact on the way your SaaS service works. If you have a slow Internet speed, you’ll probably be able to log in. However, you may not be able to use all your features depending on your provider.

Customization is limited.

Unfortunately, not all SaaS providers give you the full range of customization you might be used to from using traditional solutions.

Many SaaS providers provide a small degree of customization. However, they do tend to put a limit on the total number of changes you can make, or the total number of add-on features they make available to you.

This is the one challenge that’s most easily overcome with a bit of careful research.

While it’s true that most SaaS providers provide limited customization options, this isn’t true for every provider, nor does it mean the options you’re looking for don’t exist.

It’s well worth it to take the extra time and look into lots of different solutions. The specific combination of features you’re after is highly likely to be available somewhere, even if not all providers offer it.

Moving your data to another SaaS provider won’t be easy.

The one thing all SaaS solutions have in common is that they’re based in the cloud. This makes them an excellent choice for many reasons, though at the same time, it can also work in SaaS providers’ disfavor.

That’s because it can be challenging to move all your data from one SaaS provider’s secure cloud storage spaces to another’s. On the bright side, this means your chosen providers are keeping your data safe. However, this isn’t particularly helpful when you’re the one trying to move or remove your own data.

Let’s look at an example: SaaS platforms are often useful to those whose daily workflows include chatbot use cases, such as contact center agents and managers. These people (and chatbots!) will process lots of customer data each day, which gets stored in the cloud where it’s then intended to stay. This makes it challenging to move to a new provider.

The Final Word

In the end, it’s impossible to concretely say that SaaS is the solution for everyone. However, we can confidently say that it’s a great choice for most businesses.

SaaS comes with a lot of benefits, all of which make it a huge improvement over traditional on-premise systems. It’s flexible, scalable and cost-efficient, making it an excellent choice for most companies.

Is SaaS the right choice for your ecommerce business? Weigh the pros against the cons and you’ll probably find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

Start growing your ecommerce business even faster.

High-volume or established business? Request a demo