The Internet World Fair 2017 – the industry event for e-commerce in Germany – is taking place in Munich. We are looking forward to this year not only with a stand at the exhibition: at the Infoarena, Anexia COO Christian Inzko will provide a keynote to illustrate the advantages that the managed e-commerce hosting solution provides, and for whom it is not of use. For all those who cannot be there, Christian has summarized his arguments here:
Do you remember when the drugstore shelves in Germany were practically swept clear of baby food? The Chinese discovered the products for themselves because of a food scandal in their country. For some time, they have also been boosting the production and shipping figures of a German manufacturer of caffeine shampoo. Although the two examples relate to stationary trade, they also show the effects of unexpected demand peaks. Such peaks are also affecting online merchants more and more frequently and are not subject only to seasonal fluctuations. In order to identify them, an adaptable technical infrastructure is called for today. The following five factors are crucial to successful online store hosting.
The pivotal point of an online shop is, without a doubt, its product offering. Attractive design and intuitive usability also influence the sales decisively and are carefully thought out by shop operators. As a rule, though, little attention is paid to the appropriate technical infrastructure. Especially during the start-up phase of a shop, the price determines the chosen hosting solution. However, due to somewhat expensive marketing measures (among other reasons), this initial frugality can take its revenge, at the latest when the shop begins to serve a larger clientele. This is because just as good performance and availability ensure an undisturbed shopping experience and loyal customers, these customers can quickly and permanently turn away when faced with problems such as slow-loading product images and videos, in the worst case deciding to order from the competition. This can be prevented by modern hardware as well as a flexible infrastructure.
Flexibility is particularly important in the case of seasonal or campaign-related demand peaks, which are customary in commerce. With an adaptable, virtual infrastructure and needs-based scalability, servers, resources and storage capacities can be switched on or off at short notice. Ideally, this is done automatically. In addition to seasonal effects, such as during the Christmas season, scalability is also an important aspect if the offered products are also to be distributed internationally or if new target markets result from unexpected demand. This requires an infrastructure that is close to the customer. A vendor with access to a worldwide cloud with its own server sites can also significantly reduce the organizational costs for the shop operator, since he only has to close a contract with one cloud hosting provider.
In addition to technical aspects, the selection of a hosting provider also determines the service. Evenings and weekends are among the most highly frequented phases of online shopping. The operation of the shop therefore has to be ensured around the clock. Even downtimes of a few minutes can cost up to several hundred euro – especially during important phases, such as the pre-Christmas season. In addition, the customer loses trust. However, not every shop owner has the temporal or monetary resources or the knowledge that is necessary for elaborate monitoring and for solving possible problems. That is why professional providers rely on automated monitoring systems, which monitor the shop without gaps and immediately provide alerts or counteract any errors.
Certificates regarding security and data protection now belong to the day-to-day life of shop owners. This should also apply to the technical infrastructure. In the case of worldwide server sites, the question arises as to the sensitive handling of customer data. A secure method for German shop providers is to store credit card and other confidential data in well-secured and appropriately-certified servers or data centers in Germany and to use these to handle the relevant processes. The ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certificates in particular provide information about the trustworthiness and reliability of a hosting provider.
Smooth processes are the alpha and omega of the online shop. Admittedly, a basic variant can be more favorable in the initial phase – but it can also slow down growth in the medium term and interfere with customer confidence. Taking care of the hosting on one’s own is one possibility, but not every provider has the necessary knowledge or capacities to do so. The resulting costs for managed hosting are determined by several factors. Managed hosting is not a product off the shelf – the individually requested services determine the price. This is the main advantage of this hosting solution. It is comparable to a custom suit. Every detail can be designed according to your wishes. A bit expensive? Certainly. But also tailored to the body or shop.
By Christian Inzko, Chief Operating Officer of Anexia.