Hosting has a big impact on your eCommerce business. It affects the experience you can provide to shoppers, how much money you spend on infrastructure, and how easy it will be to grow your store as your business expands.
Taking the time to choose eCommerce hosting wisely pays off in the future. You aren’t short of options, but the quality of hosting varies widely between providers. The last thing you want is to choose the wrong hosting provider and then be forced by poor performance and reliability to migrate in a few months.
I’m going to talk about a few of the criteria you should keep in mind when assessing eCommerce hosting providers. But before we get to that, I want to address low-cost shared hosting — it isn’t worth the money.
eCommerce applications like Magento and WooCommerce are resource hungry and low-cost shared hosting providers are not generous. It is better to spend a few more dollars a month from the start than have to move to a different provider because your hosting plan can’t cope with the traffic your store generates.
An eCommerce store is a money-making machine that can’t make money if it isn’t available to customers. The reliability of an eCommerce hosting provider depends on its technical ability, its hardware, and its willingness to go the extra mile. It can be hard to assess reliability without experience of the hosting platform, so I would urge prospective hosting clients to look carefully at reviews and forum posts by current and past clients. WebHostingTalk is a useful resource.
After reliability, performance is the next most important quality of a good hosting provider. Online shoppers are particularly sensitive to performance: slow stores lose sales. Try to ascertain whether an eCommerce retailer has a positive reputation for performance. Do they tailor their hosting platform to the performance requirements of applications like Magento and WooCommerce? Do they provide caching tools like Varnish and Memcached on their hosting accounts? Do they provide easy integration with a content distribution network?
This is an opinionated take, but I would advise eCommerce retailers to opt for self-hosted eCommerce applications like Magento and WooCommerce rather than hosted solutions like Shopify or marketplaces like Etsy.
Self-hosted solutions combined with a good hosting provider offer more flexibility and freedom. They can be hosted by many different providers so retailers aren’t tied to a particular platform.
You are likely to need help from your hosting provider at some point. When you need help, you don’t want to wait for it. Support is a major cost center for hosting providers, which is one of the reasons low-cost hosting isn’t the bargain it might seem. Check out the hosting provider’s reputation for support before committing.
- Room to grow
Finally, your hosting should be able to grow with your business. High-quality shared hosting is a great starting point for a small eCommerce store, but can the hosting provider accommodate your store as it grows? Do they offer dedicated hosting, clustered hosting, or cloud hosting capable of supporting busy stores? Do they have a track record of hosting large successful eCommerce retailers.
If you can’t find the information you need, don’t be afraid to ask. A reputable eCommerce hosting provider will be more than happy to talk you through your options and how they can help your business.
Suggested reading: Cloud Hosting Comes Out as a Winner! Here’s Why…
About Guest Author:
Graeme Caldwell works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting.