What to Look for in an Ecommerce Hosting Service:
- Greater than 99.9% uptime guarantee. Don’t let those sales slip away.
- Free shopping cart installation. These services offer Magento, OsCommerce, and other top notch shopping cart software.
- High website security to ensure customer trust and repeated customers.
- Provides Paypal and other merchant accounts to receive secure online transactions.
Guide to eCommerce Hosting Solutions
In order to sell goods and services on your website you will need an ecommerce web hosting service in India, and there are a number of different options available that provide you with all the tools and features you need to set up and manage a successful online store. Whether you are running a small business or are a multi-vendor with many international clients affordable eCommerce hosting will be a major consideration, as this will help you cut overheads and maximize your profits, so you will need to shop around and see which eCommerce hosting services can offer you the best deals in your price range.
Choosing an eCommerce Web Hosting Provider
There are a wide number of eCommerce hosting companies available, and these can provide you a wide range of services including social networking connectivity so that you can advertise and sell products on websites like MySpace and Facebook with companies such as Volusion, through to complete integration with eBay so that you can list products on your website in auction format with ProStores. Some of the main considerations you will have to make when choosing an ecommerce hosting service include:
In order to ensure that your business web store is easy for customers to view and each page downloads quickly and efficiently you will need to check that the bandwidth limits offered by your eCommerce host are adequate, it is a good idea to stay away from the smaller, cheaper services running T-1 connectivity, and instead opt for an ‘upstream’ provider or one that can offer T-3 (45 mbps) line connection. You need to find a ecommerce web host that has not oversubscribed their service and has bandwidth to spare and you can check this by looking at the average bandwidth utilization figures, which should be no more than 60-70% at peak times.
Many ecommerce hosting companies are actually offering services through other hosting companies, pushing it ‘upstream’ to another provider, who could also in turn be passing it up the line to a larger hosting company. The further down the line or ‘downstream’ your ecommerce web host is the more problems can occur with connectivity and so as well as checking bandwidth you to need to check how far away from the Internet backbone your provider is, that is how many servers or routers your information will have to travel through before it can connect to its destination. Some smaller companies can ‘co-locate’ their servers directly onto the Internet’s backbone, so it is not just a case of size when it comes to connectivity proximity, and for an Internet business where uptime and reliability are essential you should be looking for an eCommerce web host that is just a few ‘hops’ (server locations) away from the Internet backbone or better still directly connected the backbone itself.
The server hardware run by your ecommerce business web hosting company is key to reliability and functionality, and so you will need to check that your web host is running state-of-the-art servers with full SSL data encryption (many companies build their own equipment to provide a more customized service), and multi-processor server machines or multi-location data centers are ideal as if one server goes down the others will have back up files and be able to carry on providing connectivity without any major interruptions to your service. Also check that your ecommerce website hosting provider backs up hard drives daily, just in case any should happen (some only back up weekly and this will mean recently saved files on your website could be lost), and also has a continuous power supply onsite that is set up to kick in immediately should there be any main power failures.
In reality you may not need as much disk space as you first think, and just 25MB is enough to host 500 standard web pages. Unless you have a very large website full of videos, images and animations you probably will not actually need more than around 5MB of disk space, so you could save money on this aspect of your hosting package, but you should check you can increase your disk allocation in the future if you need to.
This will be an important factor in which web host you choose and there are plenty of cheap ecommerce hosting services out there which can offer you both reliability and functionality. However you should expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a good, affordable commercial hosting account if you have busy small to medium size Internet business, any cheaper than this and it is likely the provider cannot offer you the level of service and technical support you will need to run your online business successfully. Remember that you may also have to pay extra costs such as set up fees and domain name registration, so make sure you price the costs of a new account in full and allocate enough money to setting up your eCommerce website.
eCommerce Software and Features
One of the main benefits of ecommerce website hosting is that the provider can offer you all of the tools you need to design, build and manage your online web store, so you will not have to have any experience in HTML or computer programming, or have to buy an additional, expensive third party software design suites. You will need to review the site creation and eCommerce tools and features before you sign up to a service to ensure they can provide you with the functionality you need to build a successful online store, and many eCommerce hosts can offer some easy to use, highly functional packages such as Commerce Publisher (iCat), SoftCart (Mercantec) and ShopSite (ICentral). If you are new to online store design and management then you should look out for services such as Volusion and BigCommerce, which can offer a good range of pre-built, professional looking templates, and also take at look at services like Hostmonster and Bluehost who can also provide ‘drag and drop’ site builder tools which make it very easy to add and update content for all skill levels.
As well as site building and design software you should also check out the payment processing capabilities offered by each ecommerce shopping cart hosting service, as the point of online stores is that they can offer customers a fast, easy way to order and buy goods from the comfort of their own homes, so you will need to be able to offer them a good selection of both offline and online payment facilities. If you are running an online store then it is essential you can provide your customers with secure online credit card processing, and your host will need to be able to provide you with a secure payment processing gateway for this that can handle real time credit card transactions from the store front through to a merchant account. It will depend on which shopping cart you choose as to which payment processor you use, but the best ecommerce web hosting services will offer you at least one or two built in payment processing components to make it easy for you to offer this online service such as Segue Systems, ICVerify or Cybercash. Don’t forget these services are not banks themselves, just payment processors, so you will also need to have a merchant account already set up for your site.
As well as researching all of the software and features listed by the various eCommerce web host providers you should also take the time to look at some of the online ecommerce hosting review websites that are available, as these provide independent, customer based overviews of each eCommerce host, and can give you a better understanding of how each service performs in the real world. For example you may be interested in one of the smaller web hosting companies, but are concerned about whether or not it can provide you with all of the features and services advertised, and by checking out the reviews you can see how other customers and industry experts have rated this service, and make a more informed judgement about whether or not it will suit you.
Top Small Business eCommerce Hosting
There are some great hosting options available for small businesses, and these can provide reliable, affordable eCommerce accounts to help you set up and manage your own online store. Top small business ecommerce hosting providers include:
• BigCommerce – build online stores quickly and easily with BigCommerce site builder tools, and manage your online store with full inventory tracking and auto alerts (to let you know when items are out of stock), and also customizable categories and purchase fields. The Gold Package provides a good feature set and 5GB of bandwidth and 500MB of storage space for around $79.99 per month and this should suit most small online businesses.
• Hostgator – a good entry level package is provided (the Silver Plan) for around $59.99 per month plus a $49 set up fee, and this provides you with 5GB of bandwidth and a product catalog of up to 1000 items. See complete hostgator india hosting reviews here
• Hostmonster – if you just want to run a basic online store then Hostmonster can provide you with some very low cost eCommerce services with accounts available from just $5.95 per month, with free domain name registration, free site builder software, unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth.
• Bluehost – this web host can also offer some competitive, low price eCommerce web hosting solutions with entry level accounts available from just $6.95 per month which offer unlimited disk space, free domain name registration and unlimited bandwidth.