Monday, May 6, 2013

Web Hosting For Small E-Commerce Businesses: The Essential Guide

When one thinks of eCommerce, the immediate picture we paint is one of an exciting, fast moving industry that has the potential to be very lucrative. While all of these are accurate characteristics, success will only happen if the necessary research and thoroughness goes into creating and developing an e-commerce platform.

The biggest consideration in all of this is likely to be finding a suitable hosting provider. If you get this part right, then the world of ecommerce really could be your oyster.

Understanding Ecommerce Hosting

Many leading web-hosting companies will offer specific services related to ecommerce hosting. These will deal with the subtle differences and features that you might need in comparison to a hosting service for a ‘regular’ website. After all, a commercial enterprise has a different range of requirements and complexities.
Targeted ecommerce hosting should give you all of the tools you need to get started without having to purchase additional plugins or make any changes to what you do.

Server Requirements

Do not make the mistake many ecommerce websites do and instantly assume you need dedicated hosting. A vps hosting solution is likely to be sufficient for a small ecommerce site. This will not only save you money, but also allow you to keep dedicated hosting in your back pocket as an option should you need to expand. You could even have ‘migration to dedicated hosting’ as an objective to drive ecommerce growth.
Remember, not just the size of your catalogue will dedicate your server requirements; you need to consider traffic and the impact of online marketing such as SEO and social media, too.
What else should you be looking for to create a brilliant ecommerce platform?

Security

A great looking website might attract customers, but no one will be making a purchase and bequeathing their credit card data onto you if you cannot provide assurances around security. Ensure that a potential hosting company can provide SSL or S-HTTP so that all transactions on your website are protected, giving your customers peace of mind and boosting your own reputation.
If a hosting company talks about transaction processing software but makes no mention of secure servers, it might be better to look elsewhere.

Database Support

This aspect is critical to your success; just how well does a web host look after your database and allow the information to load quickly for your site visitors?
A common trap ecommerce providers fall into is merely looking at the number of products they can upload. Look beyond this, and consider how many images you can have per item, how much written descriptive content you will be able to use, and how much user generated content, such as product reviews, your site will be able to support.
An ecommerce database is much more than just photographs and one-line descriptions of products. To be a successful ecommerce entrepreneur, market leading database support and functionality is critical.

Powerful Shopping Cart Software

You are using powerful security encryptions and have a great database that tells browsers all they need to know about your range of products. The final piece of the jigsaw is powerful shopping cart software.
It is amazing just how many ecommerce websites there are that look great and make you want to buy, yet fall down when it comes to getting you to the checkout easily, or crashes whenever you try to add an item to your basket.
The best examples of shopping cart software will allow you to pre-load suggested link and complementary purchases, promoting yourself as a helpful retailer while increasing potential revenues. Even if it is something as simple as asking if a customer wants to add batteries to a child’s toy, it will make a huge difference.

The Full Picture

The trick to successful ecommerce is to make a customer feel like they are in a store that they would want to return to repeatedly. The tools we have explored today are all essential components of an ecommerce website; your job is to find a hosting company that scores highly and has a demonstrable reputation in all of them.
Remember that the performance of your hosting company will become your reputation. Do not take chances; secure a leading service that will allow you to become a leading ecommerce provider.
Also see below infographic: