These days, even the smallest independent business has a website. It’s become table stakes for your customers. But for larger retailers, just having a website and an online presence isn’t enough. It’s not something that you can just tick off the list once it’s built and move on to the next thing. In this era of connected commerce – where customers often expect to buy online from almost anywhere using their smartphone or tablet – retailers need to constantly refresh, refine and redefine their eCommerce strategies to stay ahead. In fact, many customers will select who they do business with based upon the functionality and “user experience” of their eCommerce presence.

We’ve been talking a lot on the blog recently about connected commerce and the opportunities and challenges this poses for businesses. However, first things first: In order to innovate and take advantage of these new opportunities, you need a strong base to build upon. As I wrote a few months back about managed hosting, retailers need a firm hosting foundation that will put them in good stead to keep innovating and growing with their customer base in years to come.

With managed hosting, retailers can simplify their IT infrastructure by trusting a provider to “host” data and applications in the provider’s data center facilities and manage the retailer’s computing, network bandwidth and storage capacity. Managed hosting is often combined with or delivered on top of cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), providing a flexible platform to scale based upon customer demand.

With a strong hosting foundation in place, providing reliability, resilience, and high performance, retailers can concentrate on innovating to create the best online and mobile shopping experience for their customers. That’s why it’s important to work with a trusted hosting provider with a strong pedigree in your industry, and across industries. In 2013, Internet Retailer ranked AT&T as the number one Web hosting provider to the top 1,000 North American e-retailers, based on our clients’ total Web revenue as listed in the 2013 Top 500 and Second 500 Guides. Entrusting your hosting to a provider like AT&T means that instead of spending time worrying about keeping the lights green, you can innovate to create a richer eCommerce experience for your customers. AT&T supports over 100 major e-retailers’ eCommerce solutions, including some of the largest brands in the world, as their hosting provider. During the last Holiday shopping season, our customers saw green lights across these platforms enabling them to focus on their top line businesses.

Check out the report for yourself here and let me know: Do you have a strong enough hosting foundation to allow you to focus on for your online retail customer experience?