There is a plethora of shopping cart solutions to choose from, so how do you know which one to get?
The reality is that there is not one answer to the question. Every option addresses different things but may fall short on another, simply because there are so many use cases that you can't possibly address them all.
Every business is unique and every business has a different set up, employees, products and services there simply isn't a one-size-fits-all. We live in a world where people want to do things themselves so they don't have to pay a professional but in a lot of cases it is simply not the best idea.
So... How do you go about picking the best shopping cart for your business?
Below is a checklist of question you need to ask yourself first.
- How important will be the website or store to your business?
- How much are you willing to invest in your website (money and time)
- What type of web support do you have?
- How will you use your store?
Hosted vs. Self Hosted Shopping Carts
A hosted shopping cart is software managed by a company, you sign up via a monthly plan and they provide you the functionalities, security and hosting space for your online store. The company is responsible for the key software they provide which includes the features, host space and you are will build your store around their offerings. The biggest draw back with the hosted solutions is that you are going to be limited to the abilities of that particular vendor and every vendor will have strength and weakness that will vary from website to website.
The self hosted option puts you in full control of your website
A Store has a store front or a building where the business is being conducted. Usually a lot of thought, planning and research is being conducted to ensure that the location will drive the right traffic, it's easy accessible, secure and provides all of the necessary accommodations to run the store as needed
The Web Host is for a website, what the "Store Front" is to a Brick & Mortar Business.
Unfortunately, it is also the most neglected and under valued component with many small business owners who tend to get their services from cheap and low quality hosts just in the name of cutting costs.
In order to understand why these value hosts are most likely a bad choice for business owners we have to look at a few items:
- Uptime: All hosts will state their uptime is about 99.99%, however that doesn't necessarily mean that it is true. A lot of these hosts will amend that statement by offering discounts or credits if they can't meet that demand but you will have to put in a request to receive this discount and then it is merely for a portion of your hosting cost. If you pay $10 per month and your service goes down for let's say 8 hrs, you discount or credit would only equate to about $0.14 per hour lost, so you are looking at a grand total of $1.12 in refunds for your lost time. If you generate about 2 orders per hour and just net $5 profit, you just lost $40. Many businesses do A LOT more business than that.
- Network Congestion: You can compare it to traffic on a highway. During peak hours depending on the infrastructure your customers could have a hard time getting a connection because there is too much traffic.
- Processing Power: Web Server are nothing more than computers configured and set up for the internet. Their speed and power is determined by the system the host implements. Value hosts usually use low grade processors and components to serve those low cost plans. A Server could host hundreds of customers which all share their resources. If one customer hogs all of the power, than it could affect your website. If you ever saw an error message such as "Connection Timed Out" or "Your Server Could Not Be Reached" this could be an indicator.
- Shared Resources: Many of these value plans cram has many users on a server as possible where everyone shares the processing power of that server. The more one users the less the others have to share. This can affect your website.
The Big Picture
You run your online business, you spend your marketing dollars and advertising budget to drive as many new customers to your website as possible. The Goal is to get all of them to spend or consume your product. You want to go to your shopping cart, check out and make the payment or you want them to sign up or use whatever you have to offer.
The more customers visit your website, the more data goes back and forth from your database and server, thousands or even more actions, connections and executions are happening at the same time. If there is too much for your server to handle your website will be very slow to respond or even unreachable. Transactions may not complete or data gets lost because the return data can't connect to your database.
What it basically means that you could lose a lot of money and customers that may never return. Just because you want to save a few dollars on quality hosting.
Digital Media Concepts & Solutions provide high quality hosting to our clients as we assess your usage and recommend the appropriate configuration. In addition we won't sell you a plan that you do not need.