Web Hosting And eCommerce

One of the most thriving sectors of the Internet is eCommerce. People are getting more and more used to buying from Internet shops and every year the volume and value of sales increases a lot. If you are interested in opening your own eCommerce web site here are a few essentials you should know before you start.

The first thing you will need, is, of course, a product or service that you can sell. If you do already have a shop, you can open a website that will sell the same products to a wider audience. The number of products you sell will be a big factor in the type of hosting package you require. For example, if you have less than 20 items, you could set the website up on a very small hosting account. If however you choose to list hundreds of products, you will probably need more disk space, more bandwidth, and more options like databases and a secure connection for accepting payments.

Since the crucial part of eCommerce is getting paid, let’s take a look at the many payment options offered. In fact, there are two basic options – gathering payment information directly or hiring a third-party service to process credit cards.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

If you plan to get or already do have a merchant account which allows you to process credit cards you will need to have a web site with a secure connection. The secure connection provides a method to encrypt sensitive information so that it cannot be intercepted and read as it travels across the Internet. If you don’t have a secure connection (indicated by https at the start of the URL) customers won’t feel safe and this will reduce their chances of buying from you.

In order to get a secure connection, you will need to apply for an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. These certificates are issued by companies such as Thawte which will ask you for some information which can be verified concerning your identity and location. Once you obtain the certificate it must be installed on your web site. For this you will need a unique IP address – available at an extra cost from most web hosts. You might have to pay an extra fee to get the certificate installed.

Third Party Gateways

If this option sounds too complicated, you can alternatively go with a third party service that will handle all the financial transactions for you. When they complete a sale, your customers will be redirected to the web site of the payment service where they can provide their credit card details. Some of these services might ask you for setup fees and charge you a commission for each sale, and some others (such as PayPal) charge nothing for the set up and simply ask for a percentage of each sale.

Shopping Carts

A shopping cart is a script which you can install in your hosting account. They can make the whole eCommerce experience more automatic by organizing your products into categories, creating pages that will describe the categories as well as individual items, allowing you to keep track of returning clients, and suggesting other items for the customer to buy before they check out. You can also make your customers rate the products they have just purchased from your shop.

Whilst providing a structure for your online business, shopping carts can provide a more satisfying shopping experience. Many hosting packages include free shopping cart scripts like Miva, Agora, osCommerce, and Zen. When you choose an eCommerce package, make sure it will support your chosen method of payment gateway. For instance, if you already have a merchant account with your local bank, use that as your basis for choosing a shopping cart which can support that particular method of payment.


Martin Redford is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.

Dedicated Web Hosting: Managed vs. Unmanaged

If you have a website which is rather large and complex and which gets lots of traffic, you might come to the conclusion that shared hosting is limiting your expansion and as well as the aptitude to better assist your customers. Now might therefore be the right time to move on towards dedicated hosting. Shared hosting entails placing many websites onto a single server. Then, all sites share the resources of that server for things such as disk space and bandwidth. Dedicated hosting signifies that instead of renting space on a server, you will rent an entire server for your only use.

Unfortunately, dedicated web hosting is a lot more costly than shared hosting due to the fact that the cost of operating the server is not divided between several different accounts. The advantages of dedicated hosting comprise the freedom to use the resources of the server entirely as you like. You can also choose from many different dedicated hosting packages. The prices depend mostly on the physical setup of the server computer. The same as with your home computer, faster processors and bigger hard drives will cost more.

Another element that will influence the price is whether the server is managed or not. It can take a lot of time to keep a server running in the best condition. A managed hosting service will provide you with the support and know-how to uphold your server and to carry out routine repairs such as software upgrades. This kind of service can be a practical alternative to hiring your own staff to take care of your servers. Managed hosting, however, can be a lot more costly than unmanaged hosting. Whether the price is warranted will depend on the complexity of your website and whether or not you already have people in your staff who can take care of the daily operations of a server.

Despite its name, unmanaged hosting doesn’t really leave you entirely to your own devices. The majority of hosting companies will offer a certain level of support for all their dedicated hosting packages. This support will of course include hardware maintenance for things such as hard drive failure and extra technical support, which may be available if you need some help with configuration or with the installation of software. This extra support might cost you but hiring a tech per hour from time to time could be a cheaper alternative to choosing a full managed package.

If you think unmanaged hosting is for you, first check to see how much control you can have over the server hardware. If your server becomes hopelessly locked you should be able to restart your computer or to expect someone to do it for you in the least time possible.

Just like with any hosting package, the value of a dedicated hosting service will depend on the reliability and integrity of the hosting company. If your website is big to the point where you need dedicated hosting, you will need a hosting provider that you can rely on to keep your site online for as long as possible.

Whether you choose for your hosting to be managed or unmanaged will depend on your site’s technical requirements as well as the ability for you or your staff to manage a server so that it runs at peak efficiency. If you prefer to have the re-assurance of having highly trained professionals taking care of the server, choose managed hosting. If you or your staff feel able to handle most of the upkeep chores, you would be better off choosing a server which is unmanaged.


James Reid is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.