22 Jun

5 Building Blocks For Your Business Website

When the time comes to take your business online, the process can be overwhelming. For many, web design and hosting seem like a foreign language. Others start building their website, only to get stuck and let it languish for months due to frustration and time constraints.

Here at Softsys Hosting, we like to think of building a website like building a house. There are 5 essential components that every business – large or small – must have to be successful.

  1. Domain: The first step to building your business’ online presence is choosing a domain name. In our house analogy, the domain name that you choose is equivalent to your address. Where people will look to find information about your business. Make sure to choose a name that represents your business, is easy to spell, and is available. Purchasing and registering a domain name for your business will allow you to begin promoting your upcoming site ASAP.
  2. Hosting: Once you’ve chosen your address, it’s time to determine where you will build your site. The hosting provider that you choose will essentially provide the “land” on which you’ll build your business’ online home. As with real estate, there are many variables when it comes to hosting. Do you need a dedicated server or will shared hosting be sufficient? How much data storage will your business require? What are the support requirements that your team will need. We’ve put together a guide to help you determine what hosting provider is right for you!
  3. Strategy: The strategy for your site is like the architectural design of a house – it’s tough to begin building without it! Before starting to build, identify the goals for your site as well as its’ necessary functionality. What pages will you need? What do you want site visitors to do when they come to your site? How do you want them to move through the information?
  4. Platform: When it comes to choosing a website platform, it’s important to evaluate the purpose of your website. Will it be a simple blog? An ecommerce store? An online portfolio? Also consider how user-friendly your site needs to be on the back end. Think of your website platform as the material that you’d use to build a house. There are many options – all depending on the landscape, climate, and needs of the house. WordPress is the most popular web platform for businesses, but Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix all have their advantages as well.
  5. Content: The address has been chosen, walls put up, and now it’s time to fill your house with your belongings – the things that make you uniquely YOU. The same is true for your website. The images, content, and design of the site are what set you apart from your competitors. Consider carefully how you want to position your business, products, or services. As with interior design, you want to encourage readers to “flow” through your website by inviting them to visit the next page, submit a questionnaire, or contact you for more information.
13 Jun

How To Ensure That You Choose Secure Web Hosting?

The Internet is full of exciting web hosting offers, all having their own set of features and pricing options. The main reason behind varying prices is the cost of latest hardware, server maintenance, and security. Some web hosting providers can offer hosting services at dirt cheap prices because they keep using outdated server hardware with no to little maintenance following poor security standards. That being said it’s important for you to choose the most secure web hosting available.

Web Hosting & Server Security

 

When you think of website security, the recent security breaches of major companies would come to your mind. Your site might not be that large, but whether large or small, secure web hosting environment is equally important for all. In this post, we’ll cover some key security features to look for in a prospective web hosting company.

Backups And Restore Points

While you look for web hosting services, a redundant backup is a mission-critical security feature you should check for. Simply, you can ask a potential web host about their backup/restore policy, backups retention, available backup set, etc.

Here are some of the questions you can shoot to a sales guy — How frequently backups are being taken, daily, weekly, or monthly? How many backup sets are available on any given point of time? How many backup restorations are allowed? Will the support reps help you restore your site from backup files? Do you provide account level backups or file/directory level backups?

Many web hosting providers include the daily backup service with the hosting plan, taking backup of your data on the daily basis. Whereas some web hosts offer weekly and monthly backups for free, but daily backup as an add-on service. Obviously, daily backups are the best option which allows you to restore the latest version of your website in case of data corruption or any other form of data loss.

An option of “manual backup” option is also offered, whereby you can take the backup yourself every time you have something updated on the website. It’s important to go through all the backup conditions before purchasing the hosting service. It would be good if backups are taken on secure offsite location rather in the server itself so you can always have trusted repository for the latest copies of data.

Antivirus And Malware Scanning & Removal

When sites are online, in a way there are exposed to online threats like hacks, malware, PHP shells, backdoors, spyware, viruses, and whatnot. There are fair chances your site also could get infected if sufficient security measures not taken by your web hosting provider. Sometimes, websites got hacked because of poor code, bugs, script/plugin loopholes or software vulnerability.

While you choose  web host, you should understand which protective actions they will perform to protect the site from these threats.  Ask the sales guy if their hosting server is installed with anti-malware, anti-virus software? Does the server run regular scans on the web files? Can customer run the scan itself from the control panel? In case your account is infected, can support help in identifying and removing the malware?

Most of the hosts provide real-time malware protection that can detect and quarantine the threat as soon as it is uploaded to hosting space. Real-time scanning keeps the sites secure and helps prevent site from being blacklisted in search engines.

High Uptime And Disaster Recovery

Uptime can be defined as the time a website stays online. Select a web hosting provider that can provide you with at least 99.9% (43 minutes and 12 seconds per 30 days) uptime or better. Note that a small outage is fine as long as you are just a start-up without many visitors. Typically, when web hosts fail to keep uptime promise, they pay you reimbursement for the downtime. Some host claim providing 100% uptime, which is not true in most cases.

Additionally, web servers must be equipped with the redundancy to protect against downtime caused by hardware, networking or power failures. In this setup, each device, server hardware, server cooling equipment, power supply matrix and networking devices run in pairs, with each one ready to take over the full load in case the other one fails.

Firewalls And DDoS Protection

Firewall & DDoS Prevention

 

Mostly of big and lucrative sites become the target of DDoS attacks. Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks take place when a huge amount of traffic is sent to your site using cumulative resources of a number of zombie computers (online hacked systems). When this attack happens it renders the site useless to visitors. DDoS attacks can be prevented if web server is equipped with the hardware firewall at the edge of the network. However, there are limits to how well a firewall stops DDoS attacks.

Can your provider give you full DDoS protection? If yes what’s the capacity? Is it a hardware firewall or software firewall? At what stage will the network monitoring staff will inform you of potential problems that might affect your website?

If your web host offers all the features mentioned in this post, then you’re probably in good hands and they’re taking your network security seriously.

23 May

7 Steps To Ensure Your Business Is GDPR Compliant

Have you procrastinated and waited until the last minute (or past the GDPR deadline) to get your company’s data in order? We’ve broken it down into 7 steps to make sure you’re compliant:

Document Existing Data Policy

If you haven’t already, use this as a reason to get organized when it comes to your data. Create a folder on your company’s file system that will house all of the details regarding your data collection, processing, and storage.

We recommend starting with a data map to outline what data is collected by your business and where. From there, separate the data into categories so that you can more easily identify the lawful basis for processing each category of data.

Document diligently, as this could serve as proof in your defense if needed.

Understand The GDPR Requirements

Involve key stakeholders and executive leadership to place a high priority on cyber preparedness. These may include representatives from marketing, finance, sales, operations and any group that collects, analyzes, or makes use of customer data.

Make sure that everyone is on the same page in regards to the requirements of the new regulation and how your business must move to adhere to it.

Some key questions to ask:

  1. How will you have users give consent in accordance with the regulation?
  2. What is the process for deleting data?
  3. How will you ensure that data is truly deleted across all systems?
  4. How will you transfer data if requested by a consumer?
  5. What processes are in place to ensure that the person requesting changes is, in fact, the person they say they are?
  6. What is the outreach plan in the event of a breach?

Hire Or Appoint A DPO

Determine if you can simply add these duties to an existing position or if you’ll need to hire a new team member to do the job. Virtual DPOs are also an option as the regulation allows for a DPO to work for several companies as a consultant.

Identify And Correct Non-Compliant Processes

Compare your data audit to the requirements of the GDPR paying specific attention to privacy, rights and processes, data requests, data processing, and consent.

A large part of the compliance may be setting incident response plans. Under the GDPR requirements, businesses must report a breach within 72 hours of the incident. Make sure your team knows how to respond in the event of a security breach.

Conducting a risk assessment will also allow you to uncover Shadow IT. Matt Fisher, SVP at Snow Software, likens Shadow IT to an iceberg. “The iceberg effect poses a serious risk to organizations’ GDPR compliance as many are focused on the 10 percent of applications holding personal data that are visible at the water’s surface,” he says.

Other internal tasks to take on include:

  • Create a Password Policy.
  • Ensure your website is HTTPS.
  • Create a Data Retention Schedule and Destruction Policy.
  • Contact your contact base to prompt them to “opt in.”
  • Update your website’s Privacy Policy.

Communicate With Partners And Vendors

The risk of Shadow IT makes it critical to communicate with your third-party vendors and partners as well. Under the regulation, both data processors and controllers are liable in the event of a breach. That means, if you use a separate data processor who is not in compliance, your business is on the hook as well.

Report Your GDPR Compliance Progress

In Article 30 of the GDPR, it requires companies to complete the Record of Processing Activities (RoPA). This helps companies take inventory of risky applications and enables them to have a clear picture of how data moves throughout their departments and software.

Ask For Help (If Needed)

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Ask for help. At Softsys Hosting, we’re fully prepared to help make sure you feel confident in your data storage and protocols.

23 May

The GDPR: Explained

As we near the enforceable date of May 25th, it seems that GDPR is the buzzword of the month. But what is it? And, more importantly, what does it mean for your business?

Doing your research and preparing now will not only help you stay compliant yourself, but also answer any questions your clients have about how you’re handling their personal data.

The Overview

In short, the GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation and is a regulation in the European Union law. Developed in order return the control of data back to consumers, it also serves to simplify the regulatory environment around the world by simplifying and unifying the regulation within the EU.

While it may seem to be a recent focus for businesses and in the press, it was actually adopted over two years ago – in April of 2016. The renewed exposure is due to the fact that the regulation becomes enforceable on May 25th, 2018, after a two-year transition period.

The Details

The GDPR protects consumers’ personal data, which could be a wide-ranging list depending on how the governing body chooses to enforce it. In general, the GDPR aims to guard basic identity information (name, address, ID numbers), web data, biometric data, health and genetic data, racial or ethnic data, sexual orientation, and political opinions.

In order to protect that data, the regulation outlines the lawful basis for processing, definition of consent, guidelines to follow in the event of a data breach, among other requirements for compliance.

One example of a GDPR requirement is the right to be forgotten. This compels companies to erase personal data upon consumer request. The regulation also requires that data be stored “in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed.”

Additionally, some companies are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer to oversee GDPR compliance and data security. The International Association for Privacy Professionals estimates that nearly 30,000 companies will need to hire a DPO.

Potentially the biggest area for concern lies in Articles 25 and 32. Here, the GDPR outlines the expectation of companies to be able to provide a “reasonable” level of data protection. However, the definition of “reasonable” is open to interpretation by the GDPR governing body.

The Impact

You may be thinking, “Whew – I’m not based in the EU, glad I don’t have to worry about compliance.” You may be right. However, if you have a presence in an EU country, process personal data of European residents, or have more than 250 employees, you are required to comply.

Furthermore, the GDPR holds both data controllers and data processors liable for compliance. That means that if you’re using a third-party processing service that is not in compliance, your business is not in compliance.

Ultimately, the goal of the GDPR is to force companies to change the way they process, store, and protect personal data. As a result of these requirements and fines, nearly 85% of US based companies believe that the GDPR will put them at a disadvantage to European companies, according to a study by Ovum.

The Enforcement

Governed by a group of Supervisory Authorities (one for each member nation), the GDPR gives these representatives the ability to conduct audits, review certifications, issue warnings, impose limitations, suspend data flow that is found non-compliant, and impose administrative fines.

Those administrative fines can be extremely high – in some cases as much as 4% of a business’ global revenue or $20 million, whichever is higher.

Management consulting firm Oliver Wyman predicts that the EU could collect as much as $6 billion in fines and penalties in the first year. Don’t let your company be among them!

25 Apr

How To Migrate Data Seamlessly To A New Host

One of the reasons that we hear businesses give for staying with their current hosting providers (even if they’re not happy with the service) is because they are unsure about how to make the transition from one host to another. We get it! Transferring all of your business’ important data to a server that may be thousands of miles away can be intimidating.

The good news is that we’re here to help. Because making the switch to a new hosting provider doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as you’re organized!

When deciding whether to take the plunge, consider the strategic advantages a new hosting provider might offer your company. Many hosts will also help you transition to their servers to make sure you’re up and running smoothly!

Still a little nervous? Follow these steps to make sure your transition goes off without a hitch!

Get Organized

Make a plan to ensure that you have as little downtime as possible throughout the transition. Consider moving your files over the weekend so that there is little disruption for your clients and employees. Determine who will be responsible for what tasks during the migration. Evaluate how much of the process your new host will be handling.

When you have a plan in place, inform your clients and followers that you are going to be making the switch ahead of time so that you can reduce the number of website visitors during the transition period.

Choose A New Host

Not sure where to start? Here are the key things to consider when choosing a new host.

Backup Your Data

The goal here is to make sure that you don’t lose any data or functionality while you’re making the switch. If you backup appropriately, you can move to the next step with peace of mind knowing that you can fall back on your existing host, if necessary.

Depending on the structure and format of your website, there are several ways to DIY your backup. However, we recommend checking with your existing host to see if they provide backup services and can send you everything to give to your new host.

Copy Files To New Host

Most web hosting providers offer easy transfer functionality or assistance in making the switch. If they don’t offer personalized assistance, they will likely have applications to help upload your site and files. This is especially true for sites that use common CMS such as WordPress.

Ultimately, you’ll need to load all of your site’s files to the new IP address.

Test, Test, Test

Confirm that everything is working properly and is organized correctly before you begin sending visitors to the site on the new server. Some hosting companies can provide a staging platform that allows you to test your website while still technically in “development mode.” This is helpful in allowing you to preview your newly hosted site and remedy any problems before the site goes “live”.

If you have email addresses associated with your domain, this is the time to test and confirm that they are functioning properly, as well.

Update DNS Information

Contact your domain registrar to update your site’s DNS record to the new host’s servers. Essentially, this is what tells your domain where to point visitors to when they type in your domain name. You’ll first need to identify the new server’s address. Then, update the DNS records within your registrar’s settings. Most registrars like Godaddy and Domain.com have guides for how to do this yourself listed on their sites.

Monitor

Check your 404 logs consistently to make sure that assets like images or files weren’t left behind in the transition. If you notice an uptick, this will allow you to replace any non-working links to restore your site to full functionality.

Transitioning to a new web hosting provider doesn’t have to bring headaches. However, if this sounds like a bit too much for you, consider a host that will handle the transition for you and confirm that everything is working as it should.

Don’t hang around with a hosting provider that’s not working for you any longer. Make a switch that will support your business long-term, today!

23 Apr

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Softsys Hosting Opens Two Brand New Data Centers

Here at Softsys Hosting, we’re dedicated to continually pushing the envelope and providing the best hosting service possible to all regions of the globe. That’s why we’re so excited to announce the opening of TWO new state of the art data center locations. Our 5th and 6th data centers were built with you in mind:

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Looking for FAST connectivity to the entire Middle East region? Our new UAE servers are housed in an enterprise location and offer access to the surrounding area along with global connection. They are perfect for businesses that require data to stay in the UAE and want to work with a provider they can trust.

Not located in the Middle East? These servers are still a great solution for businesses that want to offload part of their data to a secondary region.

All UAE Servers have 500GB SSD included and feature 100% premium hardware components to make sure you have the ultimate peace of mind.

AUSTRALIA

Get connected down under with our brand new Sydney data center! Customers requiring Australia-based server hosting and direct customers from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and other Asia Pacific locations will enjoy fast network performance and guaranteed 99% uptime from our new Australia servers.

All Sydney servers have DDoS protection included and are priced very competitively compared to other hosts in the region.

Our flagship server management services will also be available for dedicated servers at both new locations!

Want to reserve your server space in one of our brand new locations? We’re offering a $35/month discount for LIFE for everyone who signs up by May 1st. Use the code 35OFF-UAE-AUS at either of the links below to get started.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

AUSTRALIA

We look forward to serving you from Australia and the UAE!

04 Apr

5 Digital Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses (+ How to Overcome Them!)

Digital marketing often seems like a challenge in itself. It’s all anyone is talking about but when you try a new strategy it’s tough to see results. It’s as if you’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you don’t explore the world of digital marketing, but you can only invest so much without getting a return.

The good news is that you’re not alone.

We’ve narrowed down the top challenges that small businesses face when it comes to digital marketing. Even better, we have the keys to overcoming them!

Persuading Company Leadership to Invest in Digital

Change can be difficult. When you’ve been successful using the same marketing strategies over the course of the business, it’s tough to convince leadership within your company to take the plunge and try something new. This is especially true if they’ve had a bad experience with digital marketing in the past!

When approaching company leaders about a new strategy, it’s important to lead with the bottom line. What results are you expecting to see from the campaign? How will you measure them? Speak in terms that they are interested and invested in. Revenue not reach. Sales not followers.

If all else fails, take a look at your competitors. Highlight the ways that they are beating you on digital platforms and share your plan to narrow the gap.

Insufficient Infrastructure

One of the key reasons that many digital strategies fail is that they don’t have the proper infrastructure to support the campaigns. Before launching your digital marketing initiatives, make sure that you have the technology, partners, and tools in place to manage the campaigns from creation to measurement.

In some cases, this requires new software tools to manage email lists, automate responses, and capture information. For others, this is a broader-scale look at their technology infrastructure and evaluating everything from hosting to data storage.

Your website is the centerpiece of your digital marketing strategy, so ensure that it’s functioning at a high level with full service hosting and maintenance.

Consistency

Digital marketing places a high value on CONTENT. Social media, blogging, webinars, podcasts… it can be exhausting! Many small businesses start with great intentions, but the content creation falls off as soon as things get busy. In order to avoid that lack of consistency, it’s crucial to plan ahead.

Start by creating a content plan for the next 30 days. Then, identify who will be responsible for creating content. It’s beneficial to have a single person dedicated to content creation so that the voice is similar across all platforms.

Finally, don’t feel obligated to create content from scratch for every channel. Can you repurpose your blog posts into social media captions? Do you have white paper content that can be transformed into a webinar or podcast? Chances are that you have plenty of content available – the key is to share it with your audience!

Proving Value

While digital marketing platforms offer an abundance of analytics, it can sometimes be difficult to tie those metrics back to true business success. The key is to start with extremely clear goals for what you want to achieve. For example, if you are running an ad campaign on Facebook, the metrics that Facebook shares will be things like link clicks, impressions, and reach. So, to set goals for the campaign, it’s important to understand how many link clicks you need to convert the number of sales that you’re looking for.

From there, stay consistent with your measurements. Set aside a time each week or month to evaluate the performance and tweak to optimize success.

Lack of Clarity

If there’s one thing that you take away from this blog post: don’t try to do everything! The digital marketing strategies and options that are available and trendy can be overwhelming, so avoid the temptation to try everything that you hear about. It’s much more effective to do a few things really well than to get burned out on trying each new thing that comes on the market.

If you’re struggling with how to choose a path forward, let your clients be your guide. What channels to they spend time on? What is important to them? What type of content are they interested in?

Focusing on your ideal client and connecting with them online is the key to success in this crazy world of digital marketing.

31 Mar

Is Cloud Hosting An Ideal Choice For Websites With Increasing Resource Requirements?

In recent years, the term “Cloud Hosting” has created lots of buzz in the web hosting industry. If you know a little bit of a web hosting, you might have come across this term many times. Thanks to its increased popularity, more and more web hosts have started offering this hosting solution. This has not only benefited the customers by giving them a wide web host choices, but it has also reduced the cloud cost with the increased competition in the market.

softsys cloud virtual servers

What Is Cloud Hosting?

The term “Cloud Hosting” is commonly used to refer multiple clustered servers that are being used to serve all the aspects of hosting your site. That means, your website will utilize the virtual resources of several connected servers instead of using one single powerful machine.

Thus, the server load is balanced and adequate hosting resources are available in the pool so they can be used whenever needed. This distributed nature of the cloud hosting makes it easy to scale up or scale down as required and hence resource bottleneck is almost never an issue since more computing power can be added on demand.

Who Can Benefit From Cloud Web Hosting?

What if your website becomes extremely popular overnight, and it starts putting a strain on the resources supplied by your shared plan. Well, definitely you’ll need a better solution that can accommodate the growing resource requirements of your site. That’s where cloud hosting comes into play.

Now, suppose you are not hosted under cloud environment, your account will get suspended immediately, and you’ll have to scramble to get your site back up and running on a next higher hosting solution as soon as possible.

On a second thought, you may think of a dedicated hosting where your website resides on its own dedicated environment. The problem with a dedicated hosting is that it’s far more expensive than your traditional shared hosting, and it demands a certain level of web hosting skills. Whereas with cloud hosting, you can overcome most of the challenges that come with the shared and dedicated hosting options.

Now suppose, your website is hosted in the cloud environment, and it starts receiving heavy traffic suddenly. Instantly, you are allocated with the more resources so your users see no degradation of services. When you no longer need these additional resources, you can release them easily. Thus, websites with heavy traffic or websites which are anticipating the resource usage spikes can benefit from this hosting option.

softsys cloud dedicated servers

Scalability

Scalability is one of the primary advantages cloud hosting, that means you can spin up additional resource almost instantly as you grow. When your site requires additional resources like processing, bandwidth or private memory – you don’t have to contact the support to assist you in increasing the resources. With cloud web hosting you can increase your available resources immediately and importantly when you need them most. This resource allocation process is seamless and your visitors on your site will never see any change.

Pay For What You Use

Most of cloud hosting services run on the “pay for what you use” model, this can actually save you a lot of money. Earlier it used to be the case, when you outgrow shared hosting package then your only other option was to move to a dedicated hosting.

A dedicated hosting is indeed a powerful option to host a website, but it cost you more. Eventually, you will end up paying for the dedicated resources that you don’t utilize.Thus, the money spent was wasted on unused services. However, with cloud hosting what you pay for is the resources you use. When you no longer need them you release them and you are no longer charged for them.

Highest Data Security & Availability

The resources of a cloud server are available from a number of physical machines, rather than being served from a single physical machine. Thus, cloud hosting users get benefits of an extensive server redundancy. This ensures that potential outages of server components affect neither the data security nor the availability of the provided resources.

Each of the cloud components is running with its redundant component, this makes the cloud very tolerant of faults. Apart from that cloud hosting providers are constantly working to safeguard their data security in accordance with national and international legislation.

22 Mar

Digital Spring Cleaning for Your Business

As of March 20th, Spring has officially sprung! While, depending on where you are, it may take some time for the warmer temperatures to reach you, the arrival of Spring is the perfect reminder to take a fresh look at your business. The typical Spring cleaning tasks of tidying the office and thoroughly cleaning your space are still important but make sure not to neglect your digital assets as well!

As we move towards a more digital world with remote workers, online storage, and outsourced data management, we run the risk of ignoring the “mess” that we can’t physically see. Ever been looking for file that you’re SURE you put in the right folder but it’s no longer there? Wanted to back up your website but weren’t sure where to start?

Spring clean your business’ digital assets with these 5 tips:

Site + Data Backup

Start by backing up all of your information. This way, if you make an error during your organization, you have a full backup to rely on. Depending on where your site and data are stored, you may have automated backups already captured, so contact your hosting provider to ensure that you don’t lose any valuable information.

Softsys Hosting clients who have invested in managed hosting services enjoy free daily backups and 24/7 monitoring to make sure that their data is always available when they need it.

File Storage

This is the perfect time to evaluate your file storage solutions. If your business is like many others’, you might have several different solutions for your file management – client files are stored in one place, internal documents in another, and contracts in yet another service. Take the time to consider streamlining your storage solutions or investing in your own infrastructure to manage future growth.

Once you determine WHERE your files will be stored, create a plan for how they will be organized and who needs access to what. Document this system in an easily-accessed file so that everyone in your organization can understand and follow the plan. Include a naming convention for files so that they are easily searched and located.

Email Organization

Feel like your inbox has gotten out of control? Stop putting off the problem and get your inbox back in line by dedicating a couple hours to organize and simplify your communication. Start by determining a filing system. You probably created one when you first started your account but have gotten away from using it because it no longer fits your needs or you just became overwhelmed. Evaluate the folders you have in your inbox, archive those you don’t use anymore, and create folders for needs that have arisen in the meantime.

Once you have a system in place, the goal becomes Inbox Zero. You read that right, ZERO emails hanging out in your inbox. Studies have shown that eliminating email clutter leads to increased efficiency and productivity and your inbox is the place to start. File away until you’ve addressed everything in your inbox, giving you a clean slate.

Finally, unsubscribe to newsletters and emails that you don’t find value in. This will help keep your inbox clutter-free and allow you to focus on what’s most important.

Update Site + Social Media

Sometimes digital outlets like websites and social media accounts are created and then forgotten. Sound familiar? Take the time during your Spring cleaning to make the necessary updates to your online storefront. Check the addresses, branding, and messaging on all of your accounts to make sure they are correct and consistent.

This is also a great time to add new products or services that you provide or update any team member changes.

Digitize Processes

Now that your digital environment is organized and decluttered, consider what offline processes can be digitized. Do your team members enter information into your CRM system manually or is there a system that syncs it with your intake forms. Is each follow up email written one at a time or do you have an automated sequence that sends it immediately?

Plan for future growth by digitizing processes that are currently slowing you down.

08 Mar

What IT Services Are Required To Launch An Online Store?

What IT Services Are Required To Launch An Online Store?

Online Store On Softsys Hosting

With a recent boom in web technologies, an online store has become the necessity for every business regardless of its size and type. Whether you run a small grocery shop or large food chain, web sales are essential for every business, and those who don’t sell their goods online may quickly see their customers taking their money elsewhere.

As per the study conducted by comScore, 1 in 6 U.S. dollars are spent online. The shoppers prefer online shopping because it saves time, provides them with wide choices at one place without need to visit crowded stores.

Businesses can sell their goods online by running their own eCommerce stores or selling their products in established online marketplaces such as Amazon, Newegg or eBay. To run an eCommerce store businesses require some important IT services and pieces of software. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the essential IT services you’ll need to launch your first online venture.

Basic Services

While you open an online store, pre-launch planning has a major role to play. Most of the business owners overlook this vital factor and book the loss. If you’re planning to launch an eCommerce store within a year, at least 6 months should be given to pre-launch planning, and rest of the time to development & product improvement cycle.

On this note, an eCommerce store built with the months of pre-launch planning takes very less time to get online and there are more chances it becomes a successful business venture.

Thanks to the latest tools and ready-made components, opening an eCommerce business is relatively easy. Here is a rundown of everything an entrepreneur must have to open a web store.

Domain Name

Your online presence must have a unique name to get identified on the Internet. This unique name is called the “domain name”, which is your online address at which your visitors can find your online store. As a pro-active business owner, you should decide and book your choice of domain long before the actual launch of the store. Ideally, before you start building your store, your domain should be registered.

Nowadays, there’s a variety of domain extensions to choose from. The most popular domain extensions are “.COM” or “.NET.” Note that your domain name should match the business’s name as closely as possible. For example, if you are selling web hosting service, then your domain should in most cases contain keyword “hosting” in it.

Web Hosting Services

Once the store is developed, you’ll need a web hosting service to publish the website online. The web hosting services store the web files that build your online store and serve those files for viewing by those who visit the site through its domain name.

The web hosting services itself is a huge subject for research, as you may find many of web hosting service types and probably thousands of web hosting providers. You are advised to choose a web hosting type in accordance with your business requirements, technologies used to build your store and anticipated web traffic.

Interactive Website

Your website is an online presence, and home of your business on the Internet. It can either be a simple static web page or a huge complex website coded in server-side scripts like ASP.NET, PHP containing hundreds of pages.

Your website must feature the products you want to sell and also it should encourage the shoppers to stay and make purchases. The website’s design should be clean, insightful, mobile-friendly and it must contain the detailed information about every product you sell.

Shopping Cart

In order to sell the products online, you’ll require shopping cart software. These pre-coded specialized programs are available as an attachment to existing website or in form of a plugin to add an eCommerce functionality.

On the other hand, some enterprises develop their own fully-customized shopping cart software. This software allows the shoppers to search the product inventory to check what’s available, select the products they’d like to purchase and eventually buy them. Some advanced shopping carts are also capable to control the inventory, set up shipping and calculate taxes according to local tax laws.

Merchant Services

We all know that online businesses can’t accept cash payments through the website, and therefore, they require a merchant service. These merchant services handle the transactions made through credit card, debit card, internet banking and online wallets.

The merchant service functions as a link between the business/customer and credit/debit card company. It processes the payments by debiting the money from a credit card account holder and depositing it into the business’s account.

In some cases, merchant services provide the businesses with a virtual account to hold the payments made through credit/debit cards. Once the funds have been approved, the merchant services will transfer this money to business account charging a small commission or service fee.

Mobile Application

 

Mobile Store On SoftSys

Due to increasing speed of wireless internet access and advanced feature-rich smartphones, the mobile application has become an essential part of any business. Your business’ presence on mobile devices is equally important as your website, as more and more people are buying directly from their smartphones. On this note, online businesses having mobile application are at a clear advantage over those that do not have.

To appear correctly on the mobile device, your website has to be mobile-friendly and responsive. In other words, it should be optimized to change size and layout dynamically for easy browsing on smaller screens. You can also build a special application for various mobile platforms such as Android and iOS.

Apart from above major IT services, you’ll require an online marketing services to stand out your store from the rivals making it more popular across the Internet. The businesses can adopt various marketing options like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (SEM), email marketing, content marketing and social media campaigns.