For the majority of retailers, IT is not a core competence but rather an enabler for their businesses and operations. Natalya Yezhkova, IDC Research Director, Storage Systems claims that expansion of cloud offerings creates new opportunities for businesses to focus efforts on core competences while leveraging the flexibility of service-based IT. And that is just one of the reasons why you should consider using the cloud for your e-commerce activities.
Selecting the right solution to run your webshop is not easy. Apart from the software solution itself, you will have to consider where to host it. Do you prefer to manage everything yourself? Or is a managed solution what you are looking for?
When launching or upgrading your webshop you have basically four very different “hosting” options to choose from:
- Hosted software
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
On-premise basically means you will have to organize everything yourself. In a hosted setup, a third party manages the software but the retailer usually owns it. In the on-demand setup, a retailer has a dedicated instance of an application that is hosted, increasingly cloud based, by a 3rd party. There are no automatic upgrades, but companies can customize the software and integrate it with back-end systems. Choosing the SaaS route means you will use an online service to run your webshop. The supplier will fully maintain this solution for you. Upgrades and new features can be delivered automatically, which makes you never have to worry about being on a legacy version.
Options 3 and 4 are in general already cloud based. In case you prefer either option 1 or 2, you can still profit from the cloud advantages by using cloud based virtual servers.
1. Focus on key features / core tasks
When you are managing a webshop there are many things to be handled. Technology is probably the least interesting one for many retailers, although it is a very important success factor. Effectively outsourcing the day-to-day technical operation of the system might therefore be the right option for you. This leaves the e-commerce group time to focus on the features that are key to your success in online sales, such as portfolio management, customer care, content management or your loyalty program.
2. Rapidly respond to market changes
You want to be able to move quickly without having a lot of IT-staff for maintenance, upgrades, adjustments of your webshop. Once you notice a new opportunity or when you want to enter a new market, a new instance of your webshop should be online in no time.
3. Be able to handle your traffic
What if your commercial gets viral or many people visit your website thanks to a special promotion? At such moments you want to be sure your webshop can handle. Having a technological platform in place to handle this kind of unexpected peak traffic is rather costly. The scalability of the cloud is what you can really profit from in such situations. When needed you can add additional computing power to guarantee a smooth service experience for your clients.
4. Continuity and quick recovery
The extreme effects of nature can close a workplace down, interrupting power supplies or affecting performance of the server on which all online activity is held, thus resulting in lost business. Using the cloud, however, decreases these worries significantly. The stability of most cloud services is really good, resulting in a high availability. In case something goes wrong, it is rather easy to recover your webshop and its data.
Isn’t it better that your platform is being managed and secured by the best cloud engineers in the world? These dedicated specialists will be better able to guarantee platform security than running your own instance. Your data is protected by top-grade security.
One of the most important things that customers in general look for in an online store is speed. Customers do not like waiting an exceptional amount of time to get the answers they are looking for or to get assistance. Cloud servers and platforms will give its users fast speed across the globe that will result in optimal performance. In addition, a well performing webshop will be better appreciated by search engines as well.
7. Always “Open”
Unlike a brick and mortar store an online store cannot close its doors. Online shoppers expect 24/7/365 service. When running on the cloud you no longer need to have your engineers to be in a standby mode.
You will have to decide for yourself whether the cloud is the right direction for you. In case of any doubts we are most willing to analyse your situation together with you. Please share your thoughts & experiences below.