Even if you have the best products to offer, a good eCommerce store requires a powerful web hosting provider. It is not a decision that you would want to rush into. You need to ensure that your eCommerce store is providing a streamlined and convenient customer experience. With the wrong hosting provider, your online store can slow down to the extent that your customers could leave and never come back.
As an online entrepreneur, you need to ensure that the buyer’s journey is hassle-free. You should focus on making it as easy as possible for the customer. Your choice of a hosting provider will influence your website’s loading speed, uptime and overall performance. A good hosting provider will contribute to a unique and smooth customer experience.
Ensure that you are following these best hosting practices for your eCommerce store.
1. Say No To The “Free Domain” Gimmick
A cost-free domain sounds appealing, however, ask yourself:
Who owns the domain? The domain may be free, but many times the hosting provider retains ownership. Where does that leave you? Stuck with the hosting provider forever, or having to pay a huge amount to buy your own domain back from your web host.
What about renewal? The free domain gimmick usually means that the first year is payment-free. But when the time comes for renewal, the hosting provider charges handsomely.
Before purchasing services from any provider, ask them about the domain ownership and ensure that the standard renewal charges are reasonable.
2. Purchase a Premium Web Hosting Service
To begin with, your website speed is one of the essentials of eCommerce growth. You need to ensure that each page loads quickly in order to yield higher conversions. However, if you go for a budget-friendly web hosting provider, it will eventually cost you.
A one second delay in page loading can reduce customer satisfaction by 16% and increase conversion loss by up to 7%. If your website page takes two or three seconds to load, you can kiss your success goodbye!
But slow page load time is just one aspect of losing customers. Website crashes, glitches or error reports are even worse. This is precisely why you must spend some money on a premium web hosting provider and avoid dealing with such headaches in the long run. Yes, it’s totally worth the investment!
3. Higher Traffic, Better Performance
While your eCommerce store grows, you will need a web host that can keep up as well. There is a good chance that you will outgrow your shared host.
You need to ensure that your web host can support your current traffic and resources without experiencing a fall in your online store’s performance. Depending on the size and traffic of your online store, you can opt for a VPS, dedicated, cloud or managed server.
4. Higher Uptime
Your eCommerce store will not earn you any money if it is offline. A poor uptime will ultimately result in a poor customer experience. When you’re searching for a web host provider for your eCommerce store, many will offer you uptime guarantees. They may also offer a money back guarantee against the time period that your store was offline. But this amount is nothing compared to what your eCommerce store would have earned if it was online.
Opt for a web host that offers on-site tech support skilled enough to fix your issues at any time of the day. Also, take care of routine upgrades. Ideally, a good web host should be able to deliver an uptime of 99.8% or better.
Your website should not have a downtime of more than 90 minutes per month. So instead of looking for appealing guarantees, find a web host that offers great uptime and can also demonstrate its track record.
5. SSL Encryption
When running an eCommerce store, the security of your customers’ data should be your top priority. You should encrypt your customers’ sensitive information – such as credit card or banking details – at every step. The most effective way to do so is to install an SSL certificate on your online store.
Depending on your web host, you may get a bundled SSL certificate with your hosting plan. However, reliable web hosts support the use of an SSL certificate without any additional charges. For example, you could choose an eCommerce hosting service that offers a free SSL certificate with their hosting plans.
6. Database Speed is Everything
Your eCommerce store will rely heavily on the speed of its database. When customers are browsing your store for products, they are interacting with your database, prices and availability. Customers are unforgiving when it comes to slow web pages. They might even post negative reviews on public forums.
Frankly, databases usually prove to be a holdup when it comes to eCommerce website speed. You need to make sure your website developers focus on it. Optimize your store for a speedy customer experience. Request that your web-hosting provider demonstrates the health and speed of your database.
7. Automated Backups
Automated backups are mandatory for every eCommerce entrepreneur. Imagine waking up one day to find that all your hard work has disappeared. Imagine all your product listings being gone. You will hate yourself for choosing an unreliable hosting provider.
It is a good practice to prepare yourself for data loss or hacking because such incidents do take place. Choose a hosting provider that offers regular, automated website backups. You may depend on your web host for timely backups as part of your hosting plan, however, we recommend creating backups of your own. You can do so via numerous plugins or third-party software.
8. Unlimited Storage
Unlimited storage looks like an appealing offer, doesn’t it? That’s what web hosting providers want you to believe. Call me a heartbreaker, but there is no such thing as unlimited storage – period!
Did you study your hosting provider’s Terms of Service (TOS)? Like many, you must have scanned it but didn’t read it carefully. There is a section in the TOS that clearly states the CPU/server usage.
In simpler terms, if your online store uses more than a certain amount of storage, it violates the provider’s TOS. Your eCommerce store will then be at risk of termination. Of course, it is mandatory for hosting providers to have it in their TOS in order to attract customers. But mainly it protects their server resources from inappropriate use. Choose your web hosting service wisely after thorough research, reviews and verification.
9. Tech Support
Tech support is an essential feature that you must not neglect when choosing a web host for your online store. If your website goes down, tech support is the superhero you will need. You must ensure that you are getting all the assistance you need from your provider. Tech support is a core feature that separates a good web host from mediocre ones.
Your hosting provider should have a dedicated team in place for customer support. When things go south, their customer support will hook you up with a real person who can figure out the problem and educate you on how to fix it. Many times, you won’t even have to blink, and reliable tech support will fix your problems for you. Also, check whether the tech support is staffed 24/7 or if they are being outsourced.
Pricing is a tricky point. Everybody wants a hosting provider that is affordable. It might also make you opt for shared hosting, which would certainly be a mistake for an eCommerce store. In all honesty, a web host that charges less than $3 per month will not offer you free SSL or 24/7 tech support. Such features will end up costing you big time.
Compare features instead of pricing plans while searching for your web host. Figure out which features are important for your business and let go of the irrelevant ones.
In a nutshell
Web hosting providers offer a variety of features that distinguish them from each other. You need to find the ones that suit your business needs. User experience is an essential ingredient that leads to both popularity and profits. If your user experience is off, you might end up struggling in the long run. Select a provider that offers all the necessary features that enhance the user experience you want.
Sajjad Shahid is an Ecommerce Community Expert at Cloudways. He loves helping out Ecommerce store owners, merchants, and marketers in establishing their businesses and startups. You can also find him on Twitter!
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