This is 5th and final article in the series based on interviews with 4 founders of online retail stores: Gokulraj of Zapstore.com, Abhishek Shah of Fetise.com, Nimish Adaniof Engrave, and Vijay Singh of Aaramshop. The introductory post for the series can be found here.

What are your criteria for selecting a Hosting Provider?

Gokulraj: I would recommend Cloud services from Rackspace, Amazon, Microsoft, GoDaddy, etc.

Abhishek: We opted to shift our servers to an Indian host Netmagic to cut down on latency and improve website loading speed. A good host should of course carry years of reputation behind its services and should be able to completely manage services with tight uptime service-level agreement (SLA) and support guarantees.

Nimish: If you can’t predict traffic levels and expect sudden spikes, I would recommend a cloud-hosting service such as AWS and RackspaceCloud. But if it’s predictable, I would recommend a VPS (Virtual Private Server) such as Linode. We have been using them since the last 2 years and it works like a charm. Great service, though you’ll rarely need it.

Vijay: There are lots of criteria- however the biggest are reliability and security. It is then dependent on the specifications that you want for your business

What works better – in-house or outsourced technical team?

Gokulraj: In-house technical team is mandatory. If none of the co-founders are tech guys, then outsourcing is the only option available, in which case I strongly suggest that they look for a full time tech guy for the core team.

Abhishek: E-commerce is not different from traditional retail – the only big difference is use of technology to facilitate smarter business. I really believe e-commerce is more about technology compared to retail, so it’s very important to start with an in-house technology team if the management is really serious about e-commerce. My experience says outsourcings hardly works and though it’s very tempting, avoid it for better results in future. It’s always better to hire and build things in-house and learn and re-learn from your own mistakes.

Nimish: I don’t think technology is what drives an e-commerce business. Open source platforms are aplenty and you can just pick one and get started. What drives an e-commerce business like ours is great products, right pricing and on-time delivery – much like a normal retail store. So I would recommend that one should focus on these aspects rather than worrying about technology. If you can afford great in-house technology, it’s great, but if you can’t then you can safely outsource it.

Vijay: It is my view that it is very important to have a core in-house team. Technology is a key lever. Basic maintenance and predictable processes can be outsourced, however, not the strategic technology thinking.

This concludes this series on interviews with founders. We will continue to bring you these interviews.

Our next set of articles will focus on analyzing each of these technical topics in some depth. Specifically, we will attempt to answer following questions:

  1. Building a Storefront – Cost vs. Features
  2. Payment Gateway Selection
  3. Selecting Shipping Vendors
  4. Back-end systems – what are these and how best to use them
  5. Marketing Strategies that work
  6. Building a technology team
  7. Mobile Access – App or web?
  8. Social commerce – how to make your store social?

Stay tuned for for more exciting articles on RetailBiz!