For companies venturing into ecommerce, it is essential to determine the right ecommerce web host. Below are the most important factors to consider before choosing a host.
What is ecommerce hosting?
Ecommerce hosting is an abbreviation of electronic commerce hosting. This type of hosting is designed for merchants, also known as emerchants or etailers, to do business over the Internet as opposed to conducting business within a brick-and-mortar storefront. Ecommerce is a cost-effective way of doing business because there are no costs needed to run an actual store plus businesses can potentially reach more customers.
The host provides a business with web space to host one’s website, email support and technical support. In addition, the host also equips a business or entrepreneur with the functionalities needed to operate a commercial website. These functionalities include database support, payment processing services, shopping cart software and security.
How does it work?
First, the business purchases computer space from an ecommerce host. Then, the company gets billed monthly for computer software leasing, the processing of online orders and the space on the host’s computer server.
If the company expects to get a lot of traffic to their site, then they might consider a dedicated host. However, for many companies, it is more financially practical to share a server with other clients. Sharing the cost of high-priced equipment and Internet connections is a common practice.
The providers will usually help the companies set up Internet merchant accounts. These accounts are created to process credit card transactions.
What does it usually include?
Since ecommerce encompasses many different industries with varying purposes and needs, providers typically have a lot more solutions than any one business will ever need. Businesses have a diverse range of services and products that they sell. Through ecommerce, businesses can sell digital downloads, products that physically need to be shipped, services, online software licenses and more.
Ecommerce hosting firms take care of the technical activities that are needed to create and maintain a commercial website. Packages include SSL, email, database support, different kinds of software, a system for payment and FTP. Some providers will even offer a client their own domain name, SEO tools, gathering of demographic data for marketing purposes, business-to-business transactions and tracking for inventory and delivery.
Ecommerce hosts may also provide website builders, blogs, video demos, articles, mailing lists, forums, surveys, password-protected directories, 24/7 phone support and live chat applications for client support.
What are the differences between hosts?
Providers have a wide range of prices and offerings. Operating systems of the servers, disk storage space and bandwidth, plug-in scripts, and the version of Perl and PHP that the provider uses can all differ from one provider to the next.
What are the concerns?
Perhaps the biggest concerns for a new business venturing into ecommerce are reliability and redundancy. A network’s uptime maintenance and security are important to any company. If problems arise, then a speedy resolution by the provider could help save sales. Some hosts guarantee uptime but that is not always the case.
Security is a concern for a growing number of consumers that hesitate to make online transactions due to recent increases of spyware intrusions, phishing attacks, virus infections and violations of personal and financial information.
What is the bottom line?
A savvy business will try to find the complete package when choosing an ecommerce host. However, that complete package will not be the same for a company in the office supplies industry versus a business in the music industry.
Before making the decision, a business should have some forethought and make a list of which functionalities and features are most important. Server reliability and speed, add-ons, customer support, tools and company longevity of the provider are important considerations for many companies. By determining business needs, researching web host reputations and comparing price points, a business can find the right ecommerce web host and become successful.