Web hosting makes your business visible on the internet. To run your online business you need to have your Website hosted by a web hosting provider. The web host provides bandwidth and web space on the servers.This means that your Website is connected to the internet so customers can browse and get what they want. The bandwidth you require will depend on the traffic your Website receives and whether you have a large database. The bandwidth you get should be enough for your site because if you exceed your limit you might be charged more or your Website might go offline which is not good for e-commerce.
The web space provided on the server should be enough for your business needs. If you are launching text only, you will not require a lot of web space but if your site includes images, animation, music and video then you will require more disk space. Usually, the disk space provided by many web host providers is enough to launch several web pages.
Web Hosting Plans
There are many web hosting solutions and you should choose the best plan that serves your needs depending on your budget. These include free web hosting, shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated hosting among others. Shared hosting is the most affordable whereby several users share one server making the costs low. Shared hosting is enough for many websites although it may not be as reliable as other more expensive hosting plans.
For e-commerce websites which handle thousands of visitors each day and need high-levels of security, dedicated hosting is the ultimate solution. In this type of plan the user leases or purchases the server and web space is not shared with others. This is appropriate for large organizations which have large databases which handle sensitive data. VPS is an in-between solution which has almost the same reliability and security of dedicated hosting and yet the cost is almost at per with shared hosting.
You need to weigh your needs against the costs so you can choose the hosting plan that is right for you. Choose a hosting plan that will allow growth. Start small and adjust to more expensive plans as your business grows and realizes profits that you can use to pay the costs.There are budget hosting, cheap hosting, business hosting, multiple domain hosting, e-mail hosting and blog hosting among many others. Web hosting can be managed so the business owner will have enough time to concentrate on meeting orders, customer service and other aspects of the business.
Free web hosting is available but it has its drawbacks. The web host posts ads and pop-ups on the Website which are beyond your control and you may not have enough disk space and bandwidth unless you have a very small website. The banner ads which are in form of pop-ups, scripts or graphics may divert attention from your business to the ads. If you have a small personal website or you are testing your website and you do not mind these banner ads you can start with free web hosting and move on to paid hosting plans as you establish your business.
Factors to consider when choosing a Web host
There are several factors which you should consider when you are looking for a web hosting provider to host your Website.
Reliability: The web hosting plan should be reliable especially when you are launching an e-commerce website. You do not want a hosting service which has frequent downtimes that make your Website unavailable when customers visit the site. A hosting service which is on and off is not good for e-commerce. You have to ensure reliability to the highest level so that your e-commerce is available at all times. Remember you are competing with other players on the internet, so, when customers visit your site and find it unavailable, you might lose them to your competitors whose websites are easily available.
Security and Control: In e-commerce security is vital due to the monetary transactions and the sensitive information exchanged. If security is compromised hackers can divert the payments and access confidential data as it travels through the internet. Tight security measures should be adopted. A secure socket layer SSL certificate is necessary which enables encryption of data until it reaches the intended destination.
Flexibility: The site needs to be updated regularly with new products, product descriptions, prices, special offers and other content. Choose a web hosting plan that offers flexibility to make it easy for you to change the site details as need arises.
Customer Support: If your Website is crucial, the web host should have a 24/7 customer support to resolve any issues that arise. You can have an outstanding site but if customer service and support is not competent and responsive, your customers will move their money elsewhere. When choosing a web host, ensure that customer support can be accessed when needed within reasonable hours.
Cost: Many web hosting plans range from $10-$30 per month although budget hosting is lower than $5 per month while dedicated hosting can be more than $100 per month. Look for an affordable hosting plan that has the features you require and change to more expensive solutions as the business grows and revenue start streaming in.
You may require some additional features but it depends on your type of business. These may include-:
• Extra web space
• Additional e-mail addresses
• Traffic Analytics to track visitors to your site
• Customer Support on phone, e-mail, chat
• Easy to use control panel
• Money Back Guarantee