How do I find a reliable e-commerce web host?
You've heard of e-commerce and possibly e-commerce web hosting, but you're not exactly sure what it is, or whether you actually need it? Simply stated, e-commerce is a fancy term used to refer to the ability to provide online shopping, and to sell products online. Sometimes e-business and e-tailing are used interchangeably with e-commerce. And, e-commerce web hosting is the place where your shopping cart program and files are stored or hosted online.
With e-commerce, your customers have direct access to your wonderful products online 24 hours a day, 7days a week. It can include the ability to see product descriptions, provide customer information, and render instant ordering. The best thing about it, is that e-commerce is a way to make the shopping that your customers do on your website an even greater experience.
There are things that prior to diving in to the e-commerce world that you will need to be aware that it can provide.
When you go to the market for your weekly grocery shopping, the first thing you grab is a shopping cart or basket. Your site visitors can do the same thing on your website short of actually pushing the cart around the aisles. With e-commerce, your customers can use the shopping cart to change orders, increase or decrease the quantities of the items in their cart, and keep a running tally of how much they are spending.
Since there isn't someone to check out your customers at the end of their shopping experience, take and count their money and hand them a receipt, web sites have to work a little differently. People shop online for the ease and convenience, and sending a check and then waiting for an order report isn't simple enough or fast enough for most internet shoppers. E-commerce provides the customers the ability to pay by using a credit card, and receive immediate confirmation.
When your customers finish their purchase, there are certain things they are going to want to know: when will the item(s) be shipped, and when will their package be delivered? E-commerce provides a means by which you can automatically provide e-mail to confirm what was purchased and on what day, and shipping information, like who will be delivering it, and the projected delivery date.
One of the nicest things about shopping at a neighborhood market is that when you walk in, often times, they know who you are, and are aware of the things you are most interested in purchasing. With some e-commerce packages, you can add the same personal touch for your customers. By tracking previous shopping at your website, the items they viewed and purchased, and customer ID information, you can provide an experience that is that much closer to the corner market in their hometown. With the correct program, when your customers sign into your website, you can welcome them by name, give them access to sale items and last chance items that they might be interested in, and when it comes to check out, much of their information can be automatically filled out for them.
Now you know that you want e-commerce for your website, but what next? First, you will need web hosting designed for e-commerce. This is not your everyday cheap hosting, if you plan to have a shopping cart and sell a lot of products. In that case, you will need more web space and more band width. Our $10 plan can easily handle a smaller shopping program, and you can always move up to our $15 or $20 e-commerce web hosting plan as your site gets bigger. Second, you'll need an e-commerce (shopping cart) program. We have a great program available that's easy to setup and use, or you can choose from one of the hundreds of great programs available online. Third, you will need a merchant account so you can process credit card orders. Our e-commerce program integrates nicely with all of the major card processors.