Selecting a Hosting Platform for your Retail Business

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eCommerce

The time has come for you to take your retail business online. Or, maybe you are preparing to start an online business. Once you made this decision, the next thing you must do is find the right provider and the right hosting option for your site.

However, with options like dedicated hosting, public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud, how do you know which is right for your business? Or should you go with a host provider who can offer a broad portfolio with multiple options?

According to Ryan Turner with consulting firm 3PRIME, before you can choose the right hosting option, you need to know just how big your operation will be and how you expect it to grow. “If you are starting with a few hundred boutique products and wouldn’t expand much beyond that, a hosted platform is a good bet. You’ll want to focus on using that functionality suite, rather than building technology,” Turner said. “If you have good developers and want to make something custom, then the hosting question would turn on the technology you’ll use. I’d suggest looking more at a managed hosting environment than dedicated, because it allows for greater scalability. All of the cloud options really come down to how skilled your IT support is, and they can offer better load times by building a content delivery network in the cloud. But in my experience, the hosted platform with specific support for that system works better for most Internet retailers.”

The cloud aspect may be the most useful in terms of marketing and performance rather than the actual shopping experience, Turner pointed out. For example, you could have your ecommerce functionality through any source, hosted platform, your own hosting and software, etc. — and then have all your product presentation stored and presented using a content delivery network, the exclusive domain of cloud hosting.

Private vs. public cloud is really a question of who they are selling to as a private cloud is defined by limiting access to internal resources. Using a public cloud with image and other content replicated through the hosting provider can vastly increase media load times. This can be a great opportunity for ecommerce, where high quality images of products in use and product details as well as video or slideshows can make all the difference in completing the sale.

Turner added that if you wanted to consider a broad portfolio, you should consider the life cycle of your business. If you are ready to scale and want to be ready for holiday traffic spikes and already have your entire ecommerce code running, then you may want to look at replicating your system using a cloud-based hosting solution.

Of course, the most important consideration is understanding how each of those options relates to ecommerce. Again, knowing which option is best for your business will depend on a number of factors, according to Abnesh Raina, Founder and CEO of Plumslice, which help companies manage their products and is responsible for conceptualization and development of the company and its technology.

“The option you should choose will depend on the number of transactions and revenue that are expected from the ecommerce site,” Raina said. “Another factor is the maturity level of the internal infrastructure and architecture teams to support time of peak loads on the site. Most small to medium sized businesses do not have this expertise in-house and run into scalability issues with internal hosting. External hosting in most cases is preferable especially for fast growing businesses.”

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