eCommerce Web Site Hosting – What Do You Need To Consider? eCommerce web site hosting is required by any business selling goods or services from its web site. In addition to the normal hosting services it is necessary to have a shopping cart and payment processing service. Whilst these additional services are vital the standard criteria for assessing a hosting service are just as, if not more, important than for any other web site. In this case a poor hosting service will result in lost business. So of vital importance are: Site Availability – An eCommerce web site must be available as near 100% of the time as possible. If it is down customers will go elsewhere. Display Speed - Shoppers should be able to move around the site as rapidly as possible. If the site is slow you will lose customers who will just go to your competitors. Even if they stay with the site and make a purchase they are less likely to return. Technical Support - Your website hosting provider must have on the ball technical staff who can assist you 24/7. In the event of urgent issues you will want help and a resolution without delay. A shopping cart is basically software that runs on the server keeping track of items selected from your site. At some point the customer moves to the “checkout” where the items are displayed, the sale totalled and the payment takes place (probably through linking to a third party service). There are numerous shopping carts available at various prices (starting at free) and ranging from fairly basic to effectively being the whole web site. You need to be sure what you want the cart to do. For example are you selling physical products or digital products? With the former you need to consider delivery options and links to shipping companies, with the latter you need to be sure that the download facilities are secure (customer can’t give the download URL to friends). You also have to choose your payment processor (gateway). This needs to be compatible with the shopping cart and your bank. If you select your shopping cart software first you will then need to find a good hosting service that can support it (does it require, for example, PERL, PHP or ASP). Alternatively you can see what shopping carts your preferred hosting service offers. Some hosting companies offer specific eCommerce web site hosting packages where everything is integrated into the package and you pay based on the functionality required. For a new business there is a lot to consider but it is essential to research the matter carefully. Where do you expect your business to be in a year or three years? Will your shopping cart be able to cope or are suitable upgrades available and are the prices of such upgrades reasonable? Time spent on research at the outset will be a good investment.