Ecommerce hosting is a special type of hosting available for companies that wish to have an online store. In fact, ecommerce is just a fancy technical name for a web shop. Some of the most visited websites on the planet, such as Amazon.com or Ebay.com are sites specializing in ecommerce and trading online.
Whatever business you have, you can find many good providers on the Internet, who will have fully-fledged applications in order for you to be able to set up your web shop.
The features of Ecommerce hosting that you should be looking for
It’s always a good idea to look at the competition whenever you are trying to set up a business. It’s no different when you’re searching for an ecommerce hosting provider. If you’re in the business of selling used books online, or you’re starting up a trading company in your local area powered by the Internet, then you would do well to take a look at some of the more popular sites to see if you can find a provider that will give you many of the features that make these companies successful in the first place.
A good rating system powered by users. Concerning ecommerce hosting, one of the most important aspects of any ecommerce website is a good rating system that is driven by the users themselves. Potential clients would like to know whether a product is worth investing in or not and the best way you can do this (apart from of course making high quality products in the first place!) is to allow them to rate and comment on their purchases.
You can use a 5 star system or a value out of 10, but whichever you pick you should allow them to talk about the pros and cons of the product they have bought and also compare it to other similar products. Some sites also allow their clients to write reviews about their products. For instance, when you buy a book on Amazon.com, you can write a book review about it which every person who searches for that book will see.
Excellent categories and a fast database. When you’re searching for ecommerce hosting, you need to find a provider that gives dedicated servers that will allow you to store massive amounts of data, with potentially thousands (or in the case of Ebay, millions) of clients clicking on links at the same time. Nothing is more frustrating to a user than waiting for links to load while they are searching for something.
Shopping carts and one-click purchasing. Online shopping carts can be a valuable tool for consumers who would like to buy more than one product at a time in a bulk order. It should be flexible and allow users to add and remove products with ease, and the price should be updated automatically. For instance, on the Apple Store (store.apple.com) the price automatically updates as you add and remove items when you are building a new computer or buying an iPad. One click purchasing is another excellent tool that you should be looking for in an ecommerce hosting site, which allows returning customers to make purchases quickly with the click of the button once they are logged in.
Client registration and military-grade security and encryption. Clients should be able to register accounts. This is especially true if you are trading in electronic currency. When customers purchase an item, they should be able to securely input their credit card information and remove it if they no longer need your services. The ecommerce hosting company that you select should be Verisign authorized and provide secure, SSL transactions for electronic purchases. There are so many stories in the news these days of major companies losing sensitive customer financial information to hackers, so you have to make sure you have all your security issues covered.
Suggested purchases. Based on customer history, many ecommerce hosting sites provide a list of suggested purchases. For instance, if a customer likes to buy books written by Stephen King and Dean Koontz on Amazon, then after a while Amazon will suggest similar titles to that customer. This is a very effective marketing strategy and can significantly boost your sales.
Contact information and quick customer service. Your ecommerce hosting provider should provide quick customer service to your clients. They should have call centers as well as online options such as e-mail or chat rooms, and any billing issues should be resolved as soon as possible. All your contact information should be provided on the website and customers should feel that they can trust you with their money.
Here is a list of other things that you should ideally be looking for when you are searching for an ecommerce hosting company:
- multi-level fly out menus (customers hate clicking)
- W3C/XHTML compliant templates (customers should be able to use the site on any computer)
- easy to edit for your web designer
- personalized logos, themes, texts, e-mail templates and so on
- web based control panel (no special software needed to run the site)
- search engine optimization (custom product urls, custom category urls, www redirects
- accept preorders
- shipping guide and shipping estimates
- refunds and store credits
- delivery dates and special event deliveries
- shipping and tracking numbers
- e-mail order confirmation
- terms and conditions for clients
- add/select multiple items to shopping cart
- one click reordering
- images database for products
- embedded videos for some products, customer reviews
- automatic inventory and stock control updated on website
- tax rates and calculations
- special offers, promotion codes, bulk purchase discounts
- sales reporting, inventory reporting, product performance reporting
- customer demographics for marketing purposes
- integration with Youtube, Facebook and Twitter
Whatever the product you sell, or whatever the service you provide, partnering with a special ecommerce hosting company instead of trying to set everything up by yourself or with limited help on standard domain name registrars is a good idea. Going the route of the ecommerce hosting is by far the more efficient way of doing business, because you can worry less about the administration and technical aspects of the web store and worry more about the important things, such as customer service and great products.