by Jason MacNeil
With the preparations finished, the business plans done, and your site ready to launch, it’s time to find a host. You may feel as if the tough decisions have all been made, but there is a critical one still ahead of you: picking a host. Reseller hosts offer the most practical solutions, but it’s imperative that you know what your reseller can and cannot offer you, and whether it is compatible with your company.
Essentially, resellers are middlemen or subcontractors for larger hosting companies; often their phone lines and equipment aren’t even their own. They purchase space from larger companies, usually at a discount of about 30 percent, and then mark up the price that they offer to the consumer. The most reliable resellers are the ones who buy from established hosting companies; the host delivers reliability and innovation, and the reseller allows the parent host a chance to add more customers. Web sites that require NT hosting are slightly more expensive than those that use UNIX hosting, but, on average, resellers charge about $20 per month.
Because speed and user-friendliness are essential to e-commerce, you should ask detailed questions about your potential reseller’s capabilities. How secure is the transaction or credit card software? Does the reseller have any offerings other than virtual storefronts? What can the reseller do to strengthen your site? Outline potential disaster scenarios, and ask how the reseller how he or she would resolve each problem. If answers are vague or indirect, look elsewhere. Most importantly, find out what support or backup systems the reseller offers in the event of a crash. Asking for names of satisfied customers is another way to find out if the reseller can back up its claims.
It is always important to know how much one-on-one time you can expect. Some larger resellers may provide exceptional service, or may be on top of the latest trends – but if they are spread too thin, they may hinder your site’s performance by prioritizing another client’s problems over yours, or by not giving you prompt service. When it comes to resellers, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Finally, keep in mind that communication shouldn’t just be one-way. Your reseller should certainly keep you informed of new ways to attract visitors, or to enhance your site. Services like 24-hour support are also vital. Like a casino, your site has no opening or closing time … so neither should its support team!
If a reseller can meet your needs and enhance your site’s capabilities, then it is the right company for the job. Ideally, your reseller should act like a Better Business Bureau: always seeking improvement, with your best interests in mind.