Starting your own e-commerce business can be a daunting prospect. There are products to source, logos and lettering to decide upon, a marketing campaign to manage and, of course, the small matter of a website to design and run.
In today’s online marketplace, competition is fierce: your brand needs to be strong and visitors to your website need to have an excellent customer experience or they will simply swipe their finger and move on. Central to this user experience, of course, is your website. A poorly designed or difficult-to-navigate site can be catastrophic for business, so it really is worth investing in this area early on.
There are many web hosting solutions out there that focus specifically on the development of e-commerce sites, offering tighter security or advanced shopping basket functions, for example. Having this expertise can really help maximise your chances of achieving a loyal and prolific customer base, as well as keeping your website adequately protected from ever-present cyber threats and hacks. In this helpful article, we’ll give you a run-down of the advantages of using e-commerce web hosting for your brand.
1. Quality images sell products
When deciding to buy a product on the high street, consumers are able to look at it in detail, compare it with other similar products and get expert advice from store staff, should they need it. Online, the images and description you post of a product are all the customer has to go from and if they are poor, you risk losing potential sales.
As well as the products themselves, the visual design of your website needs to make the right impact. Images, however, can take up a significant amount of space on your server and have the potential to adversely affect the performance and speed of your site. Image optimisation solutions are a fantastic way around this. By finding the optimal settings for your image content, you can receive pin-sharp visuals, fonts and pictures at a fraction of the size and bandwidth, which will allow your site to perform at the speed customers expect.
Image services such as Kraken are readily available and can be used to great effect at a fraction of the cost you might expect. Users of Kraken can even optimise a number of selected images for free online: perfect for the rookie e-commerce owner! For those who require a greater level of support or have image content on a larger scale, however, it is possible to outsource help. When weighing up the pros and cons for paying for this kind of service, it is always worth reflecting on the potential conversion rate of high-quality optimised images. A picture can tell a thousand words and a great visual experience can convert into great sales.
Today’s e-commerce sites need to be accessible 24 hours a day or else they face losing business or gaining a reputation as an unreliable trader. Specialist e-commerce web hosting solutions understand the importance of uptime around the clock and most now promise to provide this. Being available and responsive whatever time of the day or night is crucial to you creating a reliable online brand.
Consumers spending money online insist on the very highest levels of security and websites run from home or from small businesses leave themselves open to potential cyber threats. E-commerce hosting solutions can offer you and your customers the latest security features around transmitting personal information and credit card details: data can be encrypted using salting and hashing to ensure maximum protection, for example. In addition, by using a hosting provider, you can be sure that your website is adequately protected against viruses, hackers and cyber crime. As 2015 continued to see high-profile businesses such as TalkTalk and Barclays fall victim to online security breaches, it is more prudent than ever to take adequate precautions.
4. Hosting support
If you are a small business starting out you are unlikely to have the technical expertise to solve every web-based issue that occurs. Most web hosting solutions offer support 24 hours a day, meaning if your server goes down or your shopping basket feature crashes unexpectedly, you can speak to someone who can assist you straight away and help you solve the problem. Going beyond the basics of running a website day-to-day, there are also additional features that many e-commerce business owners choose to invest in, such as foreign language support and access to your site statistics. Knowing which parts of your website customers are visiting most regularly, for example, can be extremely useful as a marketing tool and help you increase traffic in the future.
5. Advanced shopping basket
Being able to buy a product or a service with ease is one of the most important aspects of a positive consumer experience. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to the shopping cart to find there is no PayPal option or the site will not accept VISA Debit and this is one of the things most likely to send your potential sales elsewhere. By using a specialist e-commerce hosting provider, however, you can receive advanced shopping cart features, such as integrated PayPal or Google checkout, that will make buying goods on your site a breeze. In addition, having the support of a web host will allow you to make full use of the best security features, such as “Verified by VISA”. All of these features are likely to reflect the trustworthiness and reliability of your brand and will maximise your chances of creating a loyal customer base.
The success of your online business will depend on many things: the strength of your brand and marketing campaign, how effectively you utilise social media and great customer service. In addition, by including knowledgeable web hosting solutions in your business plan, you can ensure that your customers will receive an excellent user experience, every time.