It’s easy to get caught up in the cloud, so to speak. Between longstanding tech giants like Microsoft moving to a cloud-first strategy, and consumer cloud services like Dropbox taking over the workplace, businesses everywhere, including e-retailers, are wondering when to make the move to the cloud.
Yet while e-retailers have to stay on the cutting edge of technology—especially in an industry that relies not only on website performance, but increasingly on flawless delivery of personalized user experiences, and more localized services—they shouldn’t have to become cloud experts overnight in order to make a decision on how to host their eCommerce platform. The key focus for any online business, whether it’s a fast-growing startup or a global e-retail giant, is to have a back-end architecture (with or without cloud) that supports its requirements for scale, geographic reach, uptime and security. Achieving that is more a matter of identifying your unique differentiators and needs, rather than micro-managing the back end.
There’s no one-size-fits-all cloud solution for eCommerce. In fact, while hosting an eCommerce platform in the cloud can certainly improve operations for many e-retailers, others would do best to stick to traditional bare metal hosting, or a hybrid model that combines physical and cloud. By partnering with a service provider who can provide the right tailored hosting package for your business, you can focus on what your business does best, rather than which specific cloud vendors and technologies to invest in.
Here are some things to consider when working with a service provider to find the right eCommerce hosting platform:
- What specific SLAs do you promise your customers and what does it take to fulfill them?
- What are your current key geographic markets, and which markets do you plan to grow in?
- What are your current challenges in terms of uptime, performance, storage, etc.?
- What makes you different from your competitors; in other words, what about your online presence gives you value that you want to enhance?
- What specific business processes or rules do you have that impact traffic patterns? Are these patterns predictable?
- What infrastructure do you have outside of the required hosting provider that may pose connectivity and/or scalability challenges?
- What expertise does the host have in-house regarding the application framework or platform(s) you are running, and have they worked with other similar companies?
The back-end of your business is going to be highly automated and resilient, whether it’s “in the cloud” or not. What’s important is ensuring that your hosting strategy is aligned with your eCommerce strategy. That’s why today, more than ever, successful eCommerce is about successful partnerships and service relationships. Stick to what you know—your business—and leave the cloud to the experts!