If you have an online store, choosing a good ecommerce host is more important than you might think. Too many businesses go bankrupt due to poor load speeds, insufficient security and poorly managed web servers.
But what makes a good eCommerce host? I’ve addressed a list of the top qualities you should always look for in a web host to support your research and make a more informed decision.
Ready to start? Let’s dive into the heart of the matter!
What is online hosting?
Any website and online store needs one key element to get online: a web host. Hosting provides a server where your site resides, giving it the ability to connect to the internet and let people visit it.
Basically, you buy the right to someone else’s unused server space and you get the service of a company that knows how to secure and optimize their servers.
Accommodation comes in different forms and specializations. Some types of accommodation are named after the hardware they are based on, while others have specialized plans with unique characteristics.
This is ecommerce hosting.
A quality e-commerce hosting package is a set of special features suitable for this type of business. It could be free SSL encryption, help setting up payment gateways, additional security, or scaling up during times of high traffic.
Types of eCommerce hosting
There are several different types of hosting that you should be aware of that determine your server hardware and configuration. There are traditionally three main types of hosting: shared hosting, VPS and dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is the lowest level, suitable for start-ups and individuals who just want to be online. It’s generally very inexpensive, but it comes at the cost of slower speed and sharing server space with several other websites. This type of hosting is not suitable for eCommerce sites unless you can’t afford something else.
VPS stands for “virtual private server”. Your server shares a machine with other websites, but its resources are isolated, which eliminates many of the problems associated with shared hosting. Then, dedicated hosting is the next level, giving you your own private physical server. Of course, this is not cheap. Both of these types of hosting work well for eCommerce, but there is a better way.
Cloud hosting is a popular solution to a common problem for e-commerce sites: the rapid growth of their server environment. Cloud hosting is completely scalable. You can add or remove resources at any time. And it is very affordable for start-ups!
For growing e-commerce sites, the cloud is almost certainly the infrastructure you want.
There is also another layer for hosting types: managed hosting and unmanaged hosting.
Unmanaged hosting is generally cheaper, but there is a big downside. You should take care of the installation and configuration of the server, as well as security and maintenance. In fact, you are simply buying the right to an empty server.
With managed hosting, everything is covered. Installation, configuration, security, maintenance, support and updates. Managed e-commerce hosting will help you run your store and keep it functional.
In short, cloud hosting is probably the best solution for an e-commerce website.
5 things to look for in an eCommerce hosting provider
There are certain characteristics that every ecommerce host should have. When looking for an ecommerce host that will suit your online store, look for these key features.
1. High performance
As an ecommerce site, your first priority should be finding a fast, reliable web host. 57% of consumers will leave your site if the load time is greater than 3 seconds, and 80% of them will never come back. That’s a lot of lost potential.
The problem with shared hosting is that it is slow and experiences frequent downtime, which is unacceptable to any online store. You also need to be careful with who you choose, as some web hosts have unreliable infrastructure that can cause slowdowns or crashes.
2. Bandwidth and file storage
E-commerce sites take up a lot of file space and are also the type of website that generally attracts the most traffic. You will need a web host that has sufficient resources, unless you want to pay high overage fees.
Images are a key part of the design of any site and you will need a lot of them no matter what your project. E-commerce sites, in particular, tend to consume storage quickly. Each product you upload is going to need several high definition images, and when your store gets big enough, it’s easy to wonder where all your file space has gone.
3. Proactive support
Problems and errors are sure to occur in your new site. If your web host doesn’t have a good support team ready to help you when you need it, your site could be down for hours. Support should be user-friendly, helpful, quick, and able to proactively work with you if something goes wrong.
Look for 24/7 support, as server issues can arise anytime, even in the middle of the night. If you are awakened by an alert that your site is down, you will need to get it fixed. You don’t want to lose traffic at all, or worse yet, you don’t need to wake up at odd hours just to fix your site.
4. Total security
E-commerce sites are often targeted by hackers because of the sensitive data they protect: credit card numbers, Paypal and bank passwords, and often the full names and addresses of users.
Hacking a poorly secured online store is very lucrative – and new businesses often don’t know how to secure this important data – so you need to secure your website now.
Securing your own code is up to you and your developers, but a lot of hacks happen due to poor security on the part of your web host. Flaws in the server code allow malicious actors to easily infiltrate your website, access user data, save passwords as they are sent from the server, or even place malware on your website that targets users.
This is why you should choose a web host that knows what they are doing. If it doesn’t have an anti-piracy policy, beware. They can have very poor security, and if you get hacked they probably won’t do anything to help you repair the damage.
5. Automatic backups
We cannot stress enough the importance of backups for e-commerce sites. Automatic data backups are an absolute must. Daily, weekly, even hourly in some cases: a strong backup system should be in place to protect your essential store and database files.
If you don’t have a recent backup, you’ll waste a lot of time and effort trying to get everything back to normal. You might even end up losing everything. That’s why you need a host with built-in backups, so you can run your business with peace of mind.
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