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What are IP addresses and what do they mean for ecommerce?

An IP address, otherwise known as an Internet Protocol address, is the thing that allows us to connect to the internet and live in a modern digital world. For businesses, they allow you to do anything from launching a website to emailing customers about your latest product. They work through a server/router and without them, firms would still be living in the dark ages. 

What Exactly is an IP Address? 

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, IP addresses help connect the billions of devices out there. Every single device that is connected to the internet has a unique set of numbers and letters assigned to it. An IP address is that collection of unique characters. 

The internet in general is made up of global networks. So, having an IP address helps to know where information should be sent, and that it is being sent to the right place. 

Think of an IP address like a personal street address. It’s a unique code that makes sure that information is delivered to the right place. It helps internet data go from one location to another, no matter what machine it is on and where in the world it is based. 

With a growing range of objects connecting to the internet, such as computers, mobile phones, printers, or smart speakers, it’s important that they can all be individually identified. From selling the best VoIP phone service in the area to using omnichannel marketing, companies today rely on the internet and connected machines for all sorts of reasons.

How Does an IP Address Work?

An IP address is made up of a set of numbers that helps the internet differentiate your specific device, so it knows where to send information. Say that you use a search engine to look for something like, “free 1800 number”. Within a millisecond, the search engine will know to send the results to the unique IP address you are using and not some random person. 

The numbers in an IP address range from 0 to 255 and consist of four sets of numbers. For example:

Each IP address is made up of a network ID and host ID. The network ID helps to identify the network you are connecting to the internet with. Be that home Wi-Fi, 4G on your phone, a wireless router at work, or public internet in the park. Whereas the host ID is more related to the actual machine that is being used. Be that laptop, PC, phone, or smart speaker. 

A network address can change, but a host ID tends to stay the same. So, say your company sends out an email about your latest retail ERP software to customers around the world. It will be directed to all the wireless routers, 4G networks, and Wi-Fi hosts through the network ID. Then it will be delivered to different devices, like laptops, phones, and computers through the host IDs. 

Why is an IP Address Important? 

As we have already learned, an IP address is important to make sure that information is being sent to the right place. However, an IP address is so much more than just making sure data goes from one part of the internet to another. On a personal level, it also gives away your location and can reveal sensitive information. This is why you should protect your IP address as much as possible. 

Fortunately, finding your own IP address is very straightforward. All you need to do is ask a search engine what your personal device's IP address is, and it will show you.

It’s vital to keep every single piece of information as secure as possible online. All it takes is the tiniest piece of information for cyber criminals to get hold of, and they can create huge amounts of damage. And with IP addresses being so freely available on the web, it’s easy for hackers to replicate this information and use it for illegal activity. This is why it’s so important to keep your IP address safe, especially in public. 

It is possible to encrypt your IP address using a secure VPN. This means if you need to use public internet, you can hide your IP address and if anyone tries to find it, they will just see the VPN instead. Doing this also helps you to access different servers in different countries so you can access local servers without blocks. 

If you are a business trying to develop your brand globally, you can take advantage of a secure VPN and a free territory map maker, and think like a local. 

It’s also a great way to build trust with customers. This is because it shows that you take security seriously and that you will be there for them no matter where you are based. 


Having an IP address is vital to have access to the internet and to connect to people across the world. However, it’s important to keep it safe, and hopefully, understanding a little more about how it works will help you to do this.

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