There is a multitude of moving parts to consider when putting together an online business– especially when that business model includes an e-commerce website. From design considerations that encourage sales to the technical side that allows your site to function at optimal levels, every detail plays a role in your overall success.
That’s why it’s important to choose the right website host for the job. As migrating a website from one host to another can be a nightmare, it should be avoided at all costs. Here are some tips to help you choose the best website host the first time.
Compare Cost, Storage, and Speed
Take some time to understand what options are out there and make a side-by-side comparison. Cost is often the easiest variable to identify, while speed and storage can be challenging to comprehend if you’re not tech-savvy. Take the time to read user reviews and get honest, unbiased feedback about which hosting works for businesses similar to yours.
There are two other things to consider when assessing and comparing hosting services under this umbrella. First and foremost, for an e-commerce business to be successful, you must also consider the scalability of the service they use.
Additionally, stop and consider who is telling you that a certain hosting service is the best. Many hosting services use an affiliate program that encourages their users to recommend the service for a kickback. This sometimes encourages dishonesty or exaggeration about how well a particular service works.
Assess Your Support Needs
How much guidance will you require to be able to correct issues that arise? Take some time to assess what support options your potential hosting service offers. What is the protocol when the website is down? Do they have an email support line that might take days to yield response or do they have instant chat capabilities that can help you right away? Does your hosting service have a user forum where people share their common problems and solutions?
Those who are more experienced in programming and e-commerce site management may wish to have more control over things that go on within the site. However, those who don’t wish to concern themselves with security and debugging should look for a hosting service that handles those issues (often at a higher price point).
Look for a hosting service that allows you to have a separately owned domain transferred to and from the service. This will ensure that you are in control of your domain name, and that should you decide to transfer it, you’ll be able to do so without too much difficulty. That means being able to switch hosting and taking your built up SEO with you.
While many website hosting services will also offer domains for purchase, it’s important that you read the fine print. You don’t want to have to rebrand and update all of your links in the future because your hosting site isn’t sufficient and you failed to establish ownership of a domain name.
You need to consider how much bandwidth you’ll require by estimating your traffic. An e-commerce site will always require more bandwidth and storage than a small business website that simply lists contact information. Also, while most businesses dream of getting featured on a website and going viral, it’s not a smart business plan to depend on this happening for success. Remember, more bandwidth equals higher costs.
While most hosting services use a shared server, e-commerce sites should consider using a virtual private server (VPS) hosting provider. This removes some of the dependence from the other websites on the shared server and improves performance, which is key for an e-commerce site.
The key takeaway when choosing the best hosting service for an e-commerce site is that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Furthermore, if you don’t understand what you’re looking for, do some research and ask other businesses about their experience. Choosing the right hosting is the foundation for e-commerce success.