For many ecommerce companies, their website is the primary sales channel, means of customer communication and marketing vehicle. In fact, the explosion in the use of mobile devices to access eCommerce sites and complete transactions has launched global eCommerce on a faster track for growth than ever before. According to eMarketer, this year alone, global B2C ecommerce website sales are expected to surpass $1.7 trillion.
As such, it is critical that a website be fast, functional and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every ecommerce website, especially when it comes to hosting options.
It’s important for ecommerce companies to spend the necessary time to pick the right hosting solution, or risk losing their customers and setting themselves up for a long road of potential performance, revenue or even brand reputation problems. By focusing on areas like self-service, security and geography, retailers can ensure the winning hosting formula to help keep their website reliable and their customers engaged.
Options for Self-Service
According to research from Forrester, businesses increasingly prefer self-service as the quickest route to resolution for their needs. And, in today’s modern, digital-savvy world, hosting ecommerce customers want autonomy over their infrastructure operations. A self-service hosting approach allows retailers the ability to self-manage, but also ask the experts whenever they need help along the way.
Not only does this help reduce costs for retailers, but it can also enable incredible efficencies from an operational standpoint – and provide flexibility to address any issues immediately. For example, with the launch of the Lilly Pulitzer collection at Target and, before that, the Missoni collection at Target, heavy demand in stores cleaned out the shelves, and even greater demand online crashed the site.
In instances like these, having options for self-service remedies could help companies like Target get their websites back up and running more quickly than if they have to file a ticket with their hosting provider each time and wait for a resolution.
We’ve seen how much online fraud can damage a company’s bottom line – it costs companies billions of dollars each year, cutting dramatically into earnings. In fact, both online and offline, the true cost of dealing with fraud is growing, with retailers losing $3.08 for every dollar of fraud they incurred in 2014. That’s up from $2.79 in 2013.
What ecommerce companies need to have is a dedicated security solution from their hosting provider that fully monitors performance to deliver increased security for ecommerce websites – and one that goes beyond the minimum PCI DSS compliance to further protect customers from start to finish.
Such an approach would’ve come in handy in the case of Neiman Marcus which, despite PCI compliance, sustained a data breach from malicious software installed in their systems that lasted nearly four months, affecting at least 2,400 Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards and 1.1 million customers.
Compliance itself provides a key foundation to security, but what really matters is the overall approach and processes put in place to protect the organization. Key to success for a retailer like Neiman Marcus is a hosting provider with the technology that automatically checks for and identifies any malicious behavior patterns missed by traditional network security products, as well as one that offers access to round-the-clock expert analysis and support.
Whether it’s loss of customer information, or a breach causing your website to crash, having poor security will damage your brand reputation and result in increased customer churn.
For retailers with a global footprint, taking into account the geographic coverage of a hosting provider is especially important to maintaining reliable performance and security.
Not only do retailers need to have a solution in place that can balance their website traffic across all available servers in a variety of geographies to reach everywhere a retailer does business and deliver the performance that customers demand and expect. But, that geographic diversity is especially important to ensure that a business is covered and secure – even if one of their data centers goes down.
For example, a recent series of four lightning strikes in Europe caused one of Google’s data centers to suffer permanent data loss in 5 percent of the discs in that zone. While much of the data was eventually recovered, a slow engineer response time and outdated failover systems meant a full recovery was not possible for some users’ data.
By selecting a hosting provider that has multiple data center locations and the most updated technologies in place, redundancies and failovers are baked in, ensuring the highest level of security and performance, so that businesses can continue uninterrupted even if lightning does strike twice – or four times, in this case.
Ecommerce with Ease
In the world of eCommerce, every second matters. Whether it’s poor website performance, or the inability to meet increased traffic demands, an under performing or crashed eCommerce website can damage retailers’ customer reputation and impact bottom lines.
The key to ecommerce success is taking the time to find the right hosting provider with the self-service, security and geographic requirements to keep retailers’ sites running smoothly and efficiently, and allow customers to make purchases with confidence and ease.
Toby Owen is the VP Product Management for Peer 1 Hosting & Cogeco Data Services