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Getting Started With eCommerce

By Kevin Strawbridge |

As more and more Canadians are going online to purchase goods, eCommerce is no longer a nice-to-have for Canadian companies, it’s a must. Building an effective eCommerce website can feel like a monumental task, especially since a website with slow page load times or crashes can result in lost profits. Knowing where and how your website is hosted is critical to ensuring perfect site performance.

Here are five important factors to consider when getting started with eCommerce:

1. Optimise your site's speed

Consumers are increasingly impatient - a slow or crashing website will affect conversion rates. By running an eCommerce website on a basic hosting set-up, you risk performance issues that translate into slow loading pages, abandoned shopping carts and ultimately lost revenue. This can be improved by using optimised hardware and software configurations for faster page loading times.

When partnering with a hosting provider that offers a solution optimised for eCommerce, it adds a layer to the hardware set-up known as the "caching mechanism." This layer stores the data for pages so it can load them more quickly, taking the stress off the main server.

Also bear in mind that Google's search results reward speed – so, a website's speed impacts its search ranking. Retailers with slow sites will be harder to find and will charge more for paid search advertisements.

2. Keep your site online

Selling online means your website needs to be available to keep meeting customer demand. As a result, it’s critical to be able to scale the number of servers your site is using.

Guaranteed uptime despite power cuts or server failures can be achieved with the right hardware set-up. The most common bottleneck causing downtime is a server being pushed beyond its processing capabilities. Deploying more servers dedicated to handling specific tasks is the solution, as this allows more orders to be processed.

Talk to your hosting provider about their uptime guarantee. Some hosting providers promise up to 99.999% uptime in their serve level agreements. ECommerce-optmised hosting increases the amount of manageable simultaneous traffic by up to five times and doubles the number of manageable simultaneous orders.

3. Protect your customer’s payment details

Speed and reliability are important in closing a sale, but you need to make sure your customer’s payment details are also properly protected.

Make sure that you’re meeting stringent industry standards for credit card payments by partnering with a hosting provider that has pre-approved compliance. This is the sure-fire way to ensure your eCommerce site is processing payments securely.

4. Be ready for the rise of mCommerce

Customers aren't just using laptops and desktops when shopping online, tablets and smartphones are now accounting for a significant amount of eCommerce sales and that number is only going up. Gartner predicts that by 2015 more than 50% of all web sales will be mobile. The message is clear: customers are moving to mCommerce, so you’ll need to be sure your site is up to the task.

Some hosting providers can enable seamless multichannel functionality across the desktop, tablet and mobile. Having a sold multichannel presence is essential, so partnering with a hosting provider that can support this is a must.

5. Get closer to your customers

Using a hosting provider that has a presence close to your target market ensures your website is fast and reliable internationally.

Your hosting solution needs to support you in all the countries you want to trade in or website performance will be affected in locations that don't have a nearby data center or "point of presence."

Some providers offer a "content delivery network" service that links their data centers around the world so the user’s nearest point of presence is never too far away.

When it comes to eCommerce, every millisecond and every transaction matters to your bottom line. By working with your web hosting partner to optimize your storefront, you can steer clear of poor site performance, unreliable infrastructure and security vulnerabilities.

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