Ecommerce is the buying and selling of products or services over the Internet. It draws on such technologies as electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange(EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Some common eCommerce business applications are, Document automation in supply chain and logistics, Domestic and International payment systems, Enterprise content management, Group buying, Automated online assistants, Online shopping and order tracking etc etc.
eCommerce sites are more complex than personal web pages, and have to perform many specialized functions. Because of this, ecommerce sites have special needs when it comes to web hosting. You need to be careful when selecting a web hosting service for your ecommerce business. Read on to learn how to find the best web hosting services around.
How To Avoid Downtime?
The most important feature of an ecommerce web hosting provider is an uptime guarantee. Your business cannot afford any downtime. Not only are you losing potential sales with every moment of downtime that passes, but your company’s reputation is being increasingly damaged. No matter that the crash of your website was not your fault, but that of your hosting provider, frustrated consumers aren’t likely to make that distinction, and will usually blame you.
Look for a hosting provider that offer a 100% uptime guarantee. However, don’t just take the provider’s word for it. Do some research on them. Look for reviews of actual customers, preferably long-time customers, and see for yourself if they have a proven track record of 100% uptime.
To avoid downtime, good technical support is also important. Accidents can happen, and if your website goes down, or experiences any other technical problem, you need to be able to count on a swift and effective response. Find a hosting provider that offers 24 / 7 technical support, and study customer reviews to see if that support has a reputation for effectiveness.
How Much Space Do I Need?
There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of web hosting services: Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting. Shared Hosting involves renting space on a server that also hosts other websites. With Dedicated Hosting you are renting an entire server for yourself. Shared Hosting is like renting a hotel room, Dedicated Hosting is like renting the entire hotel.
Dedicated Hosting has the advantage of providing you with enough space and bandwidth to host even a large, complex website and keep it running smoothly enough that customers never have to wait for pages or forms to load. The disadvantage is that it is the more expensive of the two options. Shared Hosting has the advantage of being cheaper. However, it might not always be able to give you the space or bandwidth you need, especially as you grow. Additionally, sometimes problems with other clients of the web hosting service might cause the hosting service to crash or slow down.
If you have a small business, especially if you work out of the home, a Shared Hosting package will likely be more than adequate for your needs. If you have a large business you really should go with the Dedicated Hosting Package.
You should also try to get as much hard disk space and bandwidth as possible, no matter what size your business is. At a minimum, however, you should determine how much memory your web page programs take up, and how much bandwidth you need for a client to interact with your web page, and how many clients you reasonably expect might be using the site at the same time. Take these figures, triple them, and make sure your provider is providing you with at least this much.
What About Customization And Tools For Ecommerce?
A good hosting service will offer a variety of different service plans based on the size and nature of the business. They will have names like Personal, Small Business, Enterprise, etc. Read the features of each plan and choose which one is the best fit for your business. Make sure that you find out how much it costs to upgrade to a larger plan, in case your business grows enough to need it.
Security is a matter of no small concern. Online businesses are common targets for cyber thieves looking to steal credit card numbers, identities, account numbers, and contact information. You need to investigate the level of security and encryption they offer, and see for yourself if you feel comfortable with it. At a minimum you are going to need password protection for certain pages and security to prevent your pages from being hacked.
Your customers aren’t going to want to have to fill out a lot of forms to do business with you. Your web hosting provider should offer full integration with popular online merchants. At a minimum it should be able to handle transactions with PayPal, Authorize.Net, and 2checkout.com. These are the most popular online merchants, and most people do business with one or another of them.
Lastly, if you have a large business and are intent on doing everything possible to get ahead, then you should consider becoming your own web hosting provider. This will mean buying your own server, setting everything up, and maintaining it all yourself, but it would give you the advantage of being in control of absolutely everything.
Guest Post by Hugh Yearsley. He contributed this guest post for WhoIsHostingThis.com where you can learn more about business webhosting needs. Hugh is a freelance business technology writer. He consults businesses on their technology needs and his articles mainly appear on tech blogs.