The first question that stares at you in the face while starting your online store is this: “Who do I choose for my hosting?”
Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business is a crucial subject that needs to be given its due importance.
Because, if your web hosting platform is not effective, you may very well forget about making your online store a success.The typical successful host will have expertise intertwined with foresight to drum up a ‘simple & seamless’ online store.
Whether its speed and stability or security and uptime, you have to be confident that the web host you are about to finalize will give you all of this and more. Taking onboard the wrong web host can cause endless headaches. As noted by KissMetrics, more than 50% of web users will not wait for more than 2 seconds for the page to load. Another 80% of online shoppers say that they will not visit the store a second time to make a purchase if the performance parameters of the site are not up to the mark. What’s more, 44% say that after a bad experience, they usually ask friends and relatives to avoid the site.
Whew! Looks like we really need to be doubly careful not to start out on the wrong note.
And starting out with the right web host is no less than a great plus point.
So how do you decide which web host to go for once everything else is in place?
But before that, for the uninitiated, I would like to throw light on: What exactly is a host?
Hosting refers to a company that rents you virtual space so that they can host the site for your online store.
There are a number of factors to choose when evaluating the hosting solution that is best for your online store:
When you sign up with a hosting company, you’ll be given an I.P. address (space on the company’s server) that people can use to access that space. For example, the I.P. address of the server hosting the main Google site is 188.8.131.52.
You can check it out right now, just paste this on your browser and hit enter.
The problem with IP addresses are that they are so complicated. To counter this and to make remembering simpler, domain names have come into existence. So instead of remembering the IP address, all you need to do is just keep the domain name www.google.com in mind. So much easier!
For site owners, a strong domain name means more brand recognition and recall.
Image Source: hostingadvice.com
Hosting when it comes to an ecommerce system:
There are two types of ecommerce systems you may use – standalone ecommerce sites and plug-in based ecommerce.
Let me give you an example: You can build a standalone ecommerce site using a system like PrestaShop, or you may opt for a plug-in such as Easy Digital Downloads for WordPress. To give you a broader sense, standalone ecommerce system is actually just another type of CMS, with the additional feature of its UI and security measures being optimized for the creation of an online store. Like a regular CMS, most systems will require PHP and MySQL database. Here are some requirements for popular standalone ecommerce systems. Magento, Opencart, Shopify, ZenCart and PrestaShop. Alternately, if you are opting for the plug-in/extension path, you’ll first need to make sure that the CMS you are building on top is supported by your host.
A few requirements for ecommerce plug-ins are: Easy Digital Downloads, Jigoshop, WP ecommerce etc. It is generally true that regardless of whether you are using standalone or plug-in, mostly you’ll find it necessary to accommodate additional security measures like SSL certificates.
Before settling for a software, it would be wise to spend as much time as required to investigate each one in detail. Your life will be much simpler, if you start out only after finding answers to questions like:
How is the support for your ecommerce and CMS software?
What’s the average overhead cost of an ecommerce site? What add-ons will you need? Is there a demo available to see the admin interface? Or what about user reviews, are they good or bad? What about the server requirements? When it is about support, you need to dig into all this.
Can you maintain enough control over the software?
Keep in mind that you will need more control over software updates so that it doesn’t run into compatibility issues later. Go for it if it allows you to customize the software that you will be running.
What are the database capabilities of your ecommerce hosting plan?
When evaluating potential database options, look for details about supported databases and database limits to ensure that you don’t run into performance issues or resource limits later on.
After ensuring storage space is sufficient, you’ll then need to check on the bandwidth allowance. As a very general rule:
Bandwidth = site data × traffic
Let’s look at an example.
- You have an image gallery with ten 200KB images, totaling 2MB
- If that gallery is viewed by 100 people, 200MB of bandwidth is consumed
- If the gallery is viewed by 1000 people, 2000MB of bandwidth is consumed, or 2GB
Generally speaking, most startup sites will be just fine with the bandwidth allowances of a typical hosting offer. However if:
- You have an especially large amount of data to serve…
- You know you’ll have a large influx of traffic from day one…
…then you’ll want to choose a host that tells you exactly how much bandwidth you have allocated so you can make sure you’ll stay inside your allowances.
Is there enough support for high database requests?
Thousands of customers will browse and search for products at the same time. Is the software equipped to respond instantly? Look at the technical specs and try choosing a plan that comes with high processing power and an optimized concurrent database connection limit.
High speed processing of data is a prerequisite for your online store.
Image Source: godaddy.com
Can it perform while handling high traffic?
Performance architecture and luxurious managed services are prerequisites for the best managed servers. Our top choice prioritizes reliability, security, speed, and support no matter how you choose to configure your server.
You need to ensure that your website will handle increased traffic that will come with the growth of your online store. Be sure that the ecommerce hosting plan you are going for, provides an isolated environment with dedicated resources for enhanced security.
Shared and dedicated/VPS resource:
Image Source: hostingadvice.com
Can this plan support a high order volume?
You need to keep in mind the potential for high sales during the festive seasons. A plan that comes with an isolated environment and dedicated/VPS resource will be able to handle this. So be sure to find out whether it has shared or dedicated storage with high-speed SSDs.It would be a good idea to ensure a plan with a minimum of 2GB RAM and 100GB allocated for CPU.
A hosting plan with high RAM means faster reading and writing of your stored data.
Image Source: hostingadvice.com
Is there enough security to safeguard customer information?
If possible try investing in an extended validation (EV) SSL certificate to add an additional level of security, credibility and trust to your ecommerce store. This will make customers feel secure when providing their credit card information.
Does it have an easy-to-use visual interface?
A growing ecommerce business usually leads to more complexity. This server management and administration consumes a lot of time, energy and money. Choose an ecommerce hosting plan that offers an intuitive control panel so that you do not need to waste time on administration.
Can you view the error and log files?
By chance your website runs into problems, your web developer should be able to access log and error files to investigate and debug the problem. Go for a cPanel which will enable you to quickly identify problems and solve issues.
To sum up, what do the best hosts provide when you sign them up?
Protecting customer and payment information while also providing beautifully designed templates, access to shopping cart software, and integrations with services such as PayPal and email marketing tools are some features that the best hosts provide.
Other than this, there is also IP Deny – a feature that allows you to deny access to certain IP’s. Sometimes, despite the best preparation, it’s possible that damage can be done by hackers or spammers. A host that keeps regular backup can put up your site in case everything else fails.
An ecommerce website is much more complex than a normal one. By choosing a hosting plan that provides dedicated resources with simple administration, dependable security and the ability to support growth, you can build an online store that performs 24X7 and contributes towards exceeding customer expectations.
Given the security demands with processing payments and storing credit card information, not to mention the difficulty coordinating inventory management, order processing, and shipment services, it’s no wonder that a strong ecommerce host can make a huge impact on your business.