Experienced small business owners and new entrepreneurs alike are finding tremendous success through online commerce. While many investors are still reeling from the dot-com boom and bust of the late 1990s, a new recognition of online business has proven to be successful since the emergence of Web 2.0. Websites are easier to build and update. Products are more easily sold and shipped. And web hosting costs have dropped dramatically in the 21st century. What may be most surprising is that independent small business owners are largely successful with online eCommerce without the help of IPO-hungry venture capitalists.
If you are new to the eCommerce industry you may be asking what to look for in a web host. There are literally thousands of hosting companies and even more hosting options. And even if you are an experienced eCommerce web owner, you may still have questions about finding the right host.
Below we have provided a few important elements you should look for in your eCommerce hosting company.
Web hosts are differentiated by the plans they offer. While hosting plans in general may look similar, practically no two plans are exactly alike. There are always subtle differences in important features that you should be on the lookout for.
If you choose a cost-saving shared server hosting plan, you should always look for a plan that allows you unlimited bandwidth as well as disk storage space. ECommerce sites typically utilize databases to store catalog data, so finding a plan with unlimited MySQL databases is important also.
Be sure your web host supports multimedia, and popular scripting as well if your website is designed by professional graphic designers.
Shopping Cart Choice
Without a doubt you should choose a web host that includes eCommerce solutions as part of the plan. That means looking for those plans that include a choice of virtual shopping carts like the popular osCommerce and AgoraCart software. These software programs allow your customers to choose products they want to buy, and keep track of them through the checkout process.
Keep in mind that shopping cart software is only useful at organizing products and totaling them. You need merchant aids to ensure that your online customers can make their purchase. There are plenty of web hosts who offer additional merchant help with setting up merchant accounts to process credit card payments, and tools to help with the online payment gateway that actually handles the transaction between your customer and your merchant bank.
Easy Control Panel
Managing your online eCommerce site needs to be easy. Look for web hosts who offer reputable control panels like cPanel or Parallel’s Plesk control panel. These software programs are configurable and user-friendly so you can have full access to your online business.
Last but not least is the importance of pricing. Sure, you can pay upwards of $15 to $20 per month for a “professional” or “business” hosting plan. But if you can find a shared hosting plan for $5 to $10 with all the same bells and whistles why would you pay more? Let it be known that there are plenty of top-rated hosting companies that offer very affordable web hosting for under $10 a month suitable for online business.
You cannot discount the importance of your web host for your online business. In many cases they are a partner in your online venture. Be sure you research and choose yours carefully.