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COVID-19 has hastened the move to online commerce for B2B sellers. A McKinsey & Company survey of B2B businesses found that digital interactions were now 2 to 3 times more important than traditional interactions. Even companies that weren’t previously engaged in eCommerce are making the move to online selling.
Moving online requires not only selecting a platform but deciding how you will deploy your platform. You can opt to use your internal IT infrastructure and security and host the webstore on your own premises, or you can take advantage of cloud-based hosting. Many B2B eCommerce platforms can be deployed in either manner, but SaaS can only be hosted in the cloud.
Cloud-Based versus Local
Exactly what is cloud-based hosting you may ask. In a traditional hosting arrangement, your data and your software (the eCommerce platform) are stored in computers that are located on your physical premises.
With cloud-based software, computing — or hosting — the programs and data are located on the hosting company’s computers on their premises. Users gain access to the software and data using the internet and a web browser. While the only difference is location, it’s a big difference. The choice impacts everything from your budget to your ability to grow your digital presence.
If your offerings feature responsiveness, speed, or agility as selling points or if you offer real-time reporting and analytics, cloud computing may be the best option. It’s also ideal for companies that operate multiple offices or locations, and when it comes to B2B eCommerce, cloud-based hosting offers many benefits worthy of careful consideration.
Easily Scale and Grow
One of the leading benefits of cloud-based eCommerce is the ability to grow and scale without investing in additional IT infrastructure. There’s no need to purchase additional servers for handling traffic during peak times.
Also, your solution is always “right-sized.” The resources are available when you need them but don’t sit idle when you don’t. If your business is cyclical, that’s important. With an in-house hosting scenario, you’re paying to maintain equipment and services during your down periods. Even when they aren’t in use, you’re still paying.
However, with cloud-based eCommerce hosting, spinning up to meet demand spikes is easy when it’s “go time.” Cloud-based computing elasticizes your data and computing ability to meet your company’s needs and your customers’ demands. When you need more, you get more, and when you need less, you use less. It’s that simple.
As more and more attention is focused on data privacy and security, cloud-based hosting offers the highest levels of security possible — physical security and data security.
In the event of a natural disaster, you recover faster as your IT operations are located in another geographic area, and that location features redundancies and backups that just aren’t economically feasible for an individual company.
Therefore, any system failure that may occur isn’t going to result in data loss or loss of operations for one or more days as it would if you hosted on-site. If you host your webstore on-premise, can you meet that standard of security?
In addition, cloud service vendors must maintain compliance with all data privacy and security regulations as they’re issued, so you’re assured your solution is PCI-DSS, GDPR, and CCPA compliant. As the regulatory environment changes, your security changes with it. You can rest well at night knowing that power surges or hard drive failures won’t take your business down as you sleep – or while you’re at the office for that matter.
Even healthcare-related companies benefit, as you can maintain HIPPA compliance while using cloud-based hosting for your webstore.
Aside from saving on resources you aren’t using, cloud-based hosting saves money in other ways. Instead of a staff devoted to maintenance, you rely on your vendor to maintain the application, so maintenance costs are reduced.
Providing your own security involves facilities, personnel, and software costs. With cloud-based hosting, these security costs are paid by the vendor.
An in-house IT structure consumes an enormous amount of power, and you have to keep it running and cool 24/7. That’s a sizable increase to your electrical consumption, which means higher power bills.
Another cost associated with hosting in-house is the compensation and benefits costs for the additional IT staff. With those functions outsourced, you need a smaller headcount.
You also eliminate the costs associated with back-ups. There’s no need for redundant systems and off-site storage because your cloud-hosting vendor provides back-ups as part of its services.
As a rule, cloud-based solutions have a lower total cost of ownership than premise-based solutions.
Improved Customer Experience
Today’s buyer is more concerned with customer experience than price. It’s a key differentiator, and great customer experience drives higher revenues. That’s because 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience.
Everyone from tech startups to enterprise-level manufacturers and distributors can add speed and agility to their offerings with cloud-based hosting.
Financial organizations that need to offer up-to-the-minute reporting and notifications benefit from the power behind a cloud-hosted platform. Communication and collaboration are enhanced with a live chat that’s actually delivered at the speed of live. It’s possible with cloud-based vendors.
Deliver rich multi-media experiences without worrying about storage limits. Make sure your customers have access to high-quality product information, helpful videos, and downloadable brochures and user guides. These all enhance the customer experience.
Support for Multiple Locations
How do you support multiple offices or locations without resorting to a slow or clunky VPN? You opt for cloud-based hosting for your B2B eCommerce webstore.
All workers have access to the data and tools they need to get their jobs done. If they have an internet connection and a cell phone, there’s a way to work. This benefit is even more crucial as more workers are clocking in from home. There’s no need to download or install special software or apps, and the file size isn’t a concern either.
One of the great benefits of eCommerce is the ability to be open around the clock, every day of the year. With cloud hosting, your site is never down for maintenance or repair. Connected cloud servers keep you up and running 24/7, so you can expand globally knowing that every office in every location is always fully supported.
With cloud-based hosting, customers and employees get a clean and speedy interaction to get the information they need and get the job done.
Gain a Competitive Edge
eCommerce is an ever-evolving industry and thrives on innovation. A cloud-hosting solution for your webstore allows you to focus on designing the best customer journey while your cloud-based partner worries about delivery.
Once freed from IT procurement, maintenance, and operation worries, your company will focus on providing exceptional products and services and delivering superior customer experiences. That’s a true competitive edge in the digital age.
When your B2B eCommerce solution is hosted in the cloud, you spend more time doing business and less time running your business.