eCommerce is becoming increasingly reliant on sophisticated technologies. Aside from needing to host large, fast-loading websites, today’s online retailers are making use of data analytics and artificial intelligence to help them with everything from procurement to after-sales. Finding the right hosting solution that meets their growing needs and future ambitions can be a challenge, however, it is one to which the cloud is ideally suited.
With narrowing margins, profitability is often reliant on keeping operational costs to a minimum. The need to deploy advanced technologies, like data analytics and AI, however, can be extremely costly when done in-house. Besides potentially steep capital investment in infrastructure, businesses will need to pay for expertise, datacentre housing, power, security and other overheads.
Migration to the cloud removes many of these financial burdens and replaces them with a more manageable and far less expensive monthly charge. Infrastructure, housing and power are provided as part of the service, as are server management and much of the security, which reduces the burden on expertise and finances even further.
Cloud migration not only provides savings that help eCommerce businesses to stay profitable; it provides them with the technologies needed to increase income.
Few sectors are more affected by seasonal spikes in demand than retailers. From an IT perspective, this means resources are either stretched to the limit during busy periods or that additional hardware purchased for peaks lies redundant for most of the year. One scenario risks services going offline, the other sees expensive infrastructure sitting idle. Neither is ideal.
Cloud computing provides a completely different model, one which is cost-effective and highly convenient. Should an enterprise require additional IT resources above those included in its service package, they can be had on a pay per use basis on demand. A simple click of a button and all the CPU, RAM and storage space a company needs to handle a spike in traffic or to carry out large scale data processing are instantly available. What’s more, as soon as those resources are no longer needed, the company can scale down again and stop paying for them. There’s no risk of being stretched too far to cope with demand and money isn’t wasted on unused resources.
Essential eCommerce tools
The cloud is the natural home for many of the tools that modern eCommerce businesses rely on. Indeed, many of these applications are specifically designed to be used in the cloud. These include the data analytics and AI tools that give eCommerce companies insights into the quickly changing marketplace, helping them procure the right products, offer the best deals and make informed marketing decisions.
More specifically, they allow companies to deploy AI-enabled live chat, recommendation engines, hyper-personalised websites, customer-centric user experiences, automated communications and omnichannel shopping experiences. Beyond this, the cloud is the ideal platform for inventory management, logistics tracking and after-sales.
eCommerce companies collect, process and store vast quantities of user data, including financial information, personal details and browsing and purchase histories. Ensuring this data is secure and that the company complies with regulations like GDPR and PCI-DSS is vitally important.
When it comes to security, the cloud offers plenty of advantages. For example, while many organisations lack the in-house expertise to deploy advanced security measures, cloud providers are required to have them in place, employing security specialists to manage the latest technologies, such as FortiGate next-gen firewalls, that have built-in intrusion protection and vulnerability scanning to keep hackers and malware at bay.
Furthermore, as a managed service, the vendor will update and patch the operating system on their customers’ behalf, ensuring that vulnerabilities in legacy versions are removed as soon as an update is available.
Cloud hosting also offers the best solution for backups. They are stored remotely, encrypted for security and checked for integrity. What’s more, they can be scheduled to take place as and when they are needed which, for eCommerce businesses, can be very frequently. Not only does this improve security; it ensures that should data be lost, whether to accidental deletion or issues like ransomware, the company’s entire system can be restored quickly with minimal impact on services.
Competition is fierce in the retail sector and success often relies on being able to move quickly. Here again, the cloud can play a crucial role. The pace at which servers and applications can be deployed in a cloud environment and the speed at which software can be developed gives companies greater agility to take advantage of developing situations and get to market with new products and services before their competitors.
As eCommerce operates 24/7, it needs hosting that provides uninterrupted availability for its services. The advantage of cloud computing is that it can guarantee 100% uptime. A cloud server is virtual and this means it is not tied to an individual physical machine. Downtime caused by hardware failure is, therefore, a thing of the past in the cloud environment because a virtual server can be instantly moved from one machine to another if there is a hardware issue. In fact, even if an entire datacentre is taken offline by a natural disaster, the service can continue by moving the virtual server to a geographically different datacentre. This way, an eCommerce business will never lose another sale or have its reputation damaged due to server failure.
Advanced technologies are crucial to modern eCommerce companies but, to make the most of them, they need to be hosted in environments that are cost-effective, reliable and secure. The cloud delivers these requirements while also providing online retailers with the agility, scalability and advanced tools needed to stay competitive in today’s marketplace.
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