Online shops and ecommerce businesses have been growing in popularity for many years but 2020 has probably seen the biggest leap in revenue. The lockdowns that have occurred all over the world have helped drive online trade up as people have relied on home deliveries instead of visiting the high street.
Why have online businesses become so popular?
Firstly they are very convenient to use. Online stores are all optimised for every device so anyone with a smartphone can access them. This means anyone can shop at any time and from almost anywhere. All you need is a mobile device and either WiFi or mobile data to connect to the internet.
There is no travel involved so shoppers save both time and money. You need a new dress for a party at the weekend? Five or ten minutes online and you have ordered and paid for it without the need to get in your car, travel to town, find and pay for a parking spot and visit multiple shops.
There is one more reason why 2020 has been a bumper year for online shops and that is Covid-19. The global pandemic affected nearly everyone in some way. The thing most people had in common was lockdowns. Some countries had very strict restrictions and struggled with multiple lockdowns and others like Sweden were more relaxed. Most people though spent an extended period at home unable to carry on with normal life.
It was this period that saw a huge surge in online shopping. It wasn’t just online stores that had a spike in visitors and sales. Takeaways and food deliveries rose too. Supermarkets had to employ extra drivers to deal with online orders and companies like Dominos struggled to keep up with the sudden rise in orders.
How does this huge surge in membership affect online businesses and their hosting?
One of the most important things in online shopping is bandwidth. Ecommerce websites are extremely complex. They will have dozens of different types of items and products spread over the site including sales sections, checkout area and detailed information for product descriptions. That all needs to appear seamless and smooth with no lag when new shoppers visit. If you were building an ecommerce Wix site you could visit fortunelords.com. For a larger online store it would be a little different.
There is a lot of different software involved in a store along with lots of multimedia. There may be videos on the website showing aspirational lifestyles with the products being used. There will be a payment gateway and hundreds of photographic images. This technology needs to run without any lag or pause. Poor SEO can also contribute to a slow loading time.
Big online stores need the very best hosting with lots of storage space, security and very high bandwidth so a huge amount of people can be online at the same time with no problems. Slow loading websites push visitors away from frustration and with ecommerce it may even make the shopper distrust the website. Trust is paramount as you are trying to get visitors to part with money.
Trust is the biggest thing an online store needs to have with its visitors. The site owners are asking people to put their personal financial information into a website and give them money. If the visitor feels something is not right with the site then they will go elsewhere. If a visitor leaves because of problems with the actual website then it is guaranteed that others will follow.
As mentioned above one of the reasons bandwidth is important is that if the website is not delivered smoothly it could make a visitor feel wary of putting in private details. People are aware of phishing sites and scams and anything that doesn’t feel right is likely to put doubts in the potential customer’s head. The security is mostly invisible but is just as important as bandwidth. The visitor needs to know that their financial details are safe. There must be high levels of security on the server and it must be fully ADA compliant where necessary. By adding secure payment methods the owners are letting the shopper choose which method they feel most comfortable to pay with..
Upgrading the hosting
Another area online businesses must consider when choosing their hosting is whether it is easy to upgrade. As their reputation grows so will the amount of visitors heading to the online store. This may mean needing increased bandwidth along with storage space as the product line expands along with the site’s content. Migrating an ecommerce site is not ideal for the business so they must choose hosting that allows upgrades to happen easily.
Laws and legislations
When running an online business it is important to know the local laws and regulations. There are obviously taxes to pay but there will also be age restrictions on some products. This means the company has to have a way to verify age and ID. Postal restrictions need to be adhered to also.
Some companies may choose to circumvent local laws by having their hosting on servers that are offshore. This means the physical location of the server is in a different state, region or country.
Physical location of the servers
As already mentioned some online stores have offshore servers. This is something the operators have to consider because ideally you want your visitors to be close to the physical location of the servers. Shoppers in Australia would not want to log on to a server in UK. The distance can impair the performance of the website.
Other considerations would include SEO or search engine optimisation, geolocation and IP tracking to stop visitors joining the server from countries which have been excluded. It may be that the online store only sells to North America and Canada and therefore wants to be able to exclude Other continents. They would host in North America but use software to check the IP of visitors and block them from entering the shop.