Without hosting, you wouldn’t be able to have an online store to begin with. However, eCommerce platforms are much more demanding than a regular three-page website. Online stores require secure and reliable eCommerce hosting that prioritises loading speeds and user security.
Whether you’re new to the world of eCommerce or you want to take your existing store to the next level, these guidelines will help you make the right choices.
eCommerce Hosting – The Basics
Hosting involves servers, which give websites homes and the ability to connect to the internet, allowing users to type in a URL and explore.
When you purchase a hosting package, you’re leasing space on a secure server. However, hosting comes in various different forms and offer unique features depending on the needs of your site.
In terms of eCommerce hosting packages, they usually include SSL encryption as well as payment gateway and scaling capabilities.
A Look at the Types of eCommerce Hosting
There are four main types of hosting:
- Shared. This type of hosting is best suited to startups and individuals who want to get a brand online. Shared hosting is cheaper because you share a server space with several other sites. Unfortunately, this also means that your website speed suffers.
- Dedicated. If you want a dedicated server that will give you faster loading times and better security, dedicated hosting can do this.
- VPS. A virtual private server shares space with other sites but resources are isolated. This eliminates a lot of the issues associated with shared hosting.
- Cloud. This has become increasingly popular amongst eCommerce brands because of its scalability. Site owners can add and remove resources at any time.
Each type of hosting can also be managed or unmanaged. Unmanaged hosting requires website owners to set up and configure the server themselves. Security and maintenance are also DIY. Managed hosting providers take care of everything and ensure your store is always up and running as it should be.
What to Look for in an eCommerce Hosting Provider
When it comes to selecting the right type of hosting for your online store, here are a few things to look out for.
Speed & Performance
If your online shoppers get to a slow website, you’re going to end up losing out on a lot of sales. The hosting provider and package you select should be fast and reliable. Shared hosting probably isn’t the best choice in this instance. What you also want to do is read a few reviews to decide whether the host you’re considering has a reliable infrastructure. This is not the time to rely on marketing but reviews from past and existing customers.
As an added bonus, look out for hosts that offer uptime monitoring so that you’re always aware when your server goes down and can take action accordingly.
Knowing your hosting provider can support you when you need it most is essential. Excellent customer support is one thing but proactive support is even better. You want someone to reach out to you about issues and your site being down instead of you having to contact them. Support teams generally consist of developers and IT professionals who maintain servers and ensure customer websites are running as they should. Hosts that offer 24/7 would be the ideal choice.
eCommerce sites require more bandwidth than most since traffic levels are usually much higher. It’s for this reason that bandwidth and file storage should be considered when choosing a hosting provider. Images are just one aspect of an online store that requires a lot of space so compare packages to see which one offers the best bandwidth and file storage options.
Backups are easy to push to the bottom of your to-do list, until the day you really one. Hosting packages that offer automatic backups are the preferred choice. This way, you always have a copy of your site should things go really wrong. Not only are hackers a concern but even making a simple setting adjustment could require you to restore a backup of your site. Backups should ideally take place once or twice a month.
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eCommerce stores can sometimes be unpredictable. Sales and holidays can trigger an influx of traffic that will require you to add more resources. It’s always better to have the option to scale your online store if you need to. Auto-scaling is even better because resources are automatically added when you need them most. Ideally, you want a host that won’t lock you in if you do need to increase resources for a short period of time.
eCommerce sites are a hot target for hackers because of the sensitive data they collect. A poorly secure WordPress site could spell disaster if a hacker has to get hold of bank passwords and credit card numbers. Hosting your site on a secure server that has advanced security measures in place is important as an eCommerce business owner. Find out more about the security measures that a hosting provider has in place and compare options before you go ahead.
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If you are planning to customise your site quite extensively, your hosting package should give your developers access to your core files. If you know that your developers will require advanced access to your site, find out more about the development capabilities that your host offers. For example, many developers prefer to make major changes on a staging site first. Does your host offer this option?
Many WordPress eCommerce sites run on WooCommerce. Unfortunately, not all web hosts work well with this plugin. If you are planning to build your site using WooCommerce, find out how easily you can integrate the plugin with your site. Your hosting package will need to be able to handle the advanced functionality of WooCommerce if you want your site to function optimally.
Too many website owners end up struggling with slow loading speeds and poor security when they’ve spent months developing their online store. And it all usually comes down to bad web hosting. You may want to save money but investing in hosting is one of the best things you can do for your eCommerce site, especially if you have big plans for it. If you take the time to shop around, you can find a hosting provider that offers good prices and excellent features.
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