When it comes to the infrastructure of an eCommerce site, there is no shortage of important considerations, including scalability, availability, reliability, flexibility, security and performance. We hear these messages so much, we’ve come to expect these “-ilities,” taking for granted that our vendor will deliver.
But buyer beware: Don’t ignore these features and the differences between what various vendors offer. Online merchants should make sure their provider specializes in eCommerce and knows what’s required for peaks in traffic, page load performance, and areas of site optimization. Merchants need a provider that is in tune with the specific security concerns of eCommerce and the need for customization.
The ability to deliver isn’t just about fast, reliable and secure hardware – it must also include eCommerce experience and expertise. An understanding of your eCommerce platform, and what is required for keeping it running at peak performance, is essential to ensuring that shoppers don’t leave your site out of frustration while shopping or abandon their cart mid-purchase.
What A Provider Takes Over
There’s a lot your hosting provider should do for you. Look for a vendor that has service level agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing high availability (uptime). Depending on the type of retail business you have, auto-scaling and load-balancing may be important to accommodate peaks in traffic and periods of higher than normal purchases. You may need advanced levels of security. And, of course, you want a vendor that’s going to monitor your site and suggest adjustments to optimize performance.
But in the end, all of this is meaningless unless your service provider has a culture of accountability. A 99.999% uptime guarantee does little if no one is there to help when you have a problem. That’s why accountability is arguably the most critical of the “-ilities.”
Supporting an eCommerce environment requires ongoing monitoring; timely, informed response to issues, including the ability to triage a problem; a policy of making proactive adjustments or suggestions; and transparency in regards to measuring and reporting on your online store.
Held to the Same Standard as Your Team
The reason you turn to a third-party managed solution provider is because you don’t have, or don’t want to have, the internal resources to manage your eCommerce environment. If you did manage things internally, you would hold the employees tasked with this responsibility fully accountable for everything under their purview. Similarly, you should hold the managed solution provider to the same standard.
If the provider holds itself accountable, they will consider customer service and technical training – along with the necessary tools – a priority. They will also invest in eCommerce business training so their employees truly understand your business requirements and goals.
Find a provider that is willing to take ownership and face difficult problems. Ask about their support policy, procedures, and customer service culture – ensure the company not only feels a sense of duty, but that individual employees do as well. Will support personnel give you their name? How quickly will they respond if there’s a question or problem? You want the support team to take personal responsibility for ensuring your satisfaction.
This culture of accountability isn’t just good for the customer, it’s good for the provider. By taking on more responsibility, they will learn more about managing eCommerce environments, and be able to improve operations for you and other clients. You want a provider that is willing to take ownership of your eCommerce infrastructure and make tough decisions. This is the difference between an average provider and one that goes the extra mile. This is the attitude of success.
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