Ecommerce is big and growing. It makes sense really, because shoppers look at ecommerce sites to get product information and best price without the bricks and mortar overhead. After the shopper gets this information they may go to a bricks and mortar store in their neighborhood or they may check out a second ecommerce site for info and price or they may just buy right there.
Shoppers are buying right there more and more often as ecommerce becomes more popular. And ecommerce websites can take a real share of the market – as long as they have a good web host keeping
them dependable and fast 24/7. The host is a major factor in ecommerce because there are some considerations that some hosts cannot handle well.
So, what should you look for in an ecommerce host? We often think of ecommerce in terms of an online shop for books, CDs, and computer accessories. But there are ever more products available and ecommerce hosts are responding. Ecommerce hosting plans must include a very powerful website design that allows you to create a responsive and effective sales engine. Here are some very key features:
Shopping Cart- A virtual shopping cart should be provided by an ecommerce website allowing a buyer to select one or several products before going to checkout point for purchase. This program should have cookies so your ecommerce site remembers every customer and every item in the shopping cart. Your ecommerce hosting plan must offer one or more shopping cart programs.
Payment Gateway- Ecommerce hosting necessitates provision of a payment gateway so customers will purchase goods from your site with Visa, MC, MoneyBookers.com, PayPal.com , check, or even by
telephone. Before you choose a particular host make sure all your features are compatible and well supported by that host.
SSL- (Secure Sockets Layer) To accept payment online you must have a SSL. SSL will provide security by encryption of all data – like credit card numbers and addresses so that it remains invisible to various computers the transaction must pass through. Without SSL your personal and financial information would be visible to anyone with access to the computers. If your ecommerce host plan includes shared SSL, than you can use the host’s shared SSL certificate. You can get a private SSL certificate if you pay a fee and you have a dedicated IP address. These details must be verified with your host.
Planning- Ecommerce websites need more planning than regular business web sites. You must have a detailed plan for growth so that your choice of hosting services can grow with your site. And you should try to anticipate the addition of new features as you need them. Your host must provide reliable technical support. You will need to use a database to store all of your products and various customer information. This can be complicated, but good hosting services that support ecommerce websites can show you a
demo model or some operational ecommerce sites that you can study. If you won’t have an in-house web developer it might be a good idea to select a host plan with ready-made websites that you can easily add your product pictures and texts. Look at the demo too if possible.
Your hosting provider should guarantee near 100% uptime. The worst case scenario sees your customers unable to bring up your website. Ask about downtime reimbursements for hosting fees and check with
webmasters who have used the host in question. There are plenty of ways to check out the reputation and abilities of any ecommerce host. The best way is to get a list of their ecommerce customers and send the webmasters an email requesting info on the company’s track record.