Getting Started with Your Online Retail Store: What is Ecommerce Hosting?
The backbone of your online retail store is greatly driven by the type of ecommerce platform that you select and the host server that keeps this platform up and running round-the-clock. These two components make up the fundamental building blocks of your ecommerce website.
Your ecommerce-platform-solutions provider offers the components that make up your online store – storefront template and design, plugins and add-on extensions, features, and functionalities. Every file in your ecommerce website from the very simple texts and photos of your products to the more advanced report and media files, are all put together and organized with the help of your ecommerce-platform-solutions provider. Even after assembling all these files together and your developer has already finished building the design of your online store, your ecommerce site is not 100% complete yet. This is because, all these files that make up your ecommerce store are only stored in a local directory. This is not available on the internet yet – your target customers can’t access it yet!
So, how can you get these files up and running, and connect to the internet? In order to do this, you need to install the following:
- Your Ecommerce Website Server
- Your Hosting
- Your Domain Name
Server, Hosting, and Domain Name – What are these?
A server is simply a storage directory where you can upload the components of your ecommerce website. These servers provide space and storage for all the files that make up your ecommerce website. Simply put, this ecommerce website server allows your ecommerce store to be connected to the internet by providing you with a storage space in the vast world-wide-web.
Once you have availed of this service, all you need to do is upload all your website files to the server. And once this is completed, your ecommerce store is now accessible to the internet.
So, who is providing this type of service? Renting this type of server space is commonly known as web hosting. Web hosting providers offer different types of contract plans for this kind of service. And sometimes this service is also offered by your ecommerce-shopping-cart platform.
But, there’s still one more thing that you need before you can display that open-for-business sign!
You need a Doman Name. This is the unique URL of your ecommerce website – the address that you type in your browser that links to your site. You need to register your Domain Name to a domain name registrar so that it will be yours and no other business or entity, except you, can use it. Take note that domain name registration usually expires so you have to renew it.
You need to be creative in coming up a Domain Name for your ecommerce website. With the increasing number of ecommerce websites today, brandable and more popular names might not cut it since they might have already been registered. This is also the very reason why you need to register your Domain Name as soon as you have chosen one.
So, what then, is Ecommerce Hosting?
Ecommerce hosting is a totally different hosting service compared to the standard website hosting. An ecommerce website differs greatly from a standard website. Because an ecommerce website manages a multitude of applications, features, and functionalities, it requires a different type of hosting services – a standard website hosting won’t be enough!
Ecommerce hosting is not simply renting a storage space from the servers. With a different set of tools and services, ecommerce hosting makes it easier and convenient for businesses to set-up, manage, and conduct different activities in their ecommerce websites. These tools and services include:
- Support for Ecommerce Database
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layers)
- Shopping Cart Platform/Software
- Ecommerce Payment Processing Services
- Ecommerce Security Mechanisms
- Other Ecommerce-related Software
- Email Server or Support
- Technical Support
So, How Do I Choose My Ecommerce Hosting?
No, not yet. Before choosing your ecommerce hosting, let’s discuss first the different types of ecommerce hosting services that are widely available in the industry today. From here, you can select which type would best fit your business needs.
The two main types would be:
- Self-hosted – You host your own ecommerce website on your own server. If you’re not yet scaling up to an enterprise level ecommerce store, then ignore this. Self-hosting requires many resources – capital, maintenance, time, and infrastructure. Large businesses that decided to self-host their websites have their own physical servers installed in a secure location and a backup facility to keep up a 24/7 uptime for their website activities. You’re looking at about four to five figures initial capital to build the required infrastructure, plus the cost of daily maintenance.
- Non-Self-hosted – This is the typical ecommerce hosting that you can avail from hosting providers – the hosting that is discussed above, in the first parts of this article.
So, let’s say you shy away from self-hosting and look for an ecommerce hosting provider. From here, you can select any of the three:
- Shared Ecommerce Hosting – This is the most basic ecommerce hosting available right now. If you’re just starting out your first website store, this is the best option you can get. You can always upgrade to a more advanced service anytime, if the need arises. In this type of hosting, your ecommerce website shares a storage space in a partitioned server directory along with other websites. Because of this, all resources available in that server is also shared – speed, bandwidth, and cost. The cost is your main advantage here. Since it is shared, you only need to pay a little amount for your monthly operation. There are shared hosting services that cost as low as $7/month.
- VPS (Virtual Private Server) Ecommerce Hosting – If you’re ecommerce store starts to gain more traction and your customer base is rapidly growing, you might want to switch to this hosting. This type of hosting somehow mimics the Dedicated Server Hosting, with the exemption of the physical data servers. In the VPS Hosting, your ecommerce site is dedicatedly hosted on a virtual server. This gives you the same control and management, but at a lower cost and some minuses compared to a Dedicated Server Hosting.
- Dedicated Server Hosting – This is not your small-scale type of server hosting. You’re basically looking at three (3) figures per month for the cost to maintain this type of hosting. But, the price comes with the best quality of service you can possibly get. You can take full control of your server space – this means that you can have a lot of storage space so you can upload as many files as you want, into the server. This is very useful if your business is expanding and you want your ecommerce site to be a fully blown online retail store with extensive features and capabilities that your customers can enjoy. This also means that you can secure your ecommerce store with the lowest minimum risk. And your uptime is always round-the-clock with very minimal downtime. This will also make your ecommerce website load faster, and thus, your customers can shop quickly at ease.wordpress