eCommerce is set to become the single most dominant form of commerce worldwide within the next 10 years, as more and more consumers choose to use the Internet for everything from basic purchases to banking and digital downloads. For your small business, having an eCommerce site up and running to complement a retail location or distribution center is essential in reaching as many clients as possible, and in staying relevant in a rapidly-changing world. If you’re not able to deliver your products on a global scale, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, you’ll quickly find yourself behind the competition. Here are the basics of eCommerce hosting.
eCommerce Web Hosting
The first thing to do when setting up an eCommerce Web site is to consider where your site will be hosted. If you’ve started a company Web site using free or very low-priced resources available on the Internet, then you’re using what is known as shared web hosting. Shared Web hosting means that all the users are sharing a pool of resources, often a pool that is limited. This means that your Web site may not be able to support a great deal of video, audio or Flash graphics, and visitors may experience periodic slowdown.
A virtual private server or VPS allows you to share a portion of a server with other users, but in way that allows your data and applications to remain private. You’ll be able to customize the space and bandwidth that you want, and use whatever kind of OS or applications that you need to make your Website run. Most eCommerce VPS providers will offer guarantees about the amount of uptime and speed the server will have, as well a number of monthly plans that you can choose from in order get the most for your money. You can also select a control panel like cPanel or Plesk that will allow you to manage the details of your Web site and get it up, running, and looking great. These control panels can help you find an eCommerce application that suits your needs, and that can help give your customers a safe and secure place to checkout.
eCommerce VPS Options
Once you’ve got your VPS up and running, it’s time to choose the kind of eCommerce shopping cart that best suits your needs. Popular options include Magneto, Pinnacle Cart, Zen Cart and osCommerce, all of which share a number of common functions. These applications will allow you to set up product pages for your Web site, complete with text and picture descriptions, along with giving you the ability to set prices, currency, as well the taxes and shipping and handling that customers can expect to pay. Options like Magneto offer wide variety of products for your store include a larger Enterprise option, a small business choice you can install on your own VPS server or shared hosting account.
Customizing Your eCommerce VPS Hosting Solution
The key in creating an eCommerce solution that works for your business lies in making sure that the eCommerce application you choose allow you the freedom to design your site as you’d like it to be. For many users, this means providing easy-to-use GUIs and streamlined steps – you don’t want to have to be a Web designer in order to have an eCommerce site.
Not only do most eCommerce apps let you choose your layout and design, but a VPS hosting provider will let you expand your footprint on the server when necessary by allowing customers to purchase more space and the use of more resources. Add to this the fact that any many management aspects of the server administration will be handled by the VPS provider, and it means you can have the performance you want, no matter the number or type of products you sell. VPS hosting packages also offer security options for your business, including the ability to purchase SSL certificates so that your customers can be sure their information is not only encrypted, but is being sent to a reputable business.
While shared web hosting is a viable option when you start to establish your Web presence, once you have moved to the point of selling products or services online, it is well worth the cost to upgrade to a VPS server and a specific eCommerce application.