Your choice of website host is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your ecommerce store. It’s not something you’d want to rush into. A successful ecommerce store must deliver an intuitive and seamless customer experience. If you go with a wrong host, your site’s performance will take a beating, something that could eventually kill your business even before it gets off the ground.
Your primary goal as an ecommerce store owner is to make the shopping and purchase process as easy as possible. The web host will determine your site’s uptime, response time and loading speed all of which are critical to the customer experience. Studies have shown that nearly half of internet users will abandon a website if it takes longer than a few seconds to load.
To make sure you get things right from the get go, here’s a look at the key considerations when choosing a hosting service.
1. Traffic and Performance
You’ve probably developed a growth plan for your ecommerce store with an expectation that you’ll hit certain visitor and revenue targets within 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years. If your business does gain traction and meets or exceeds these targets, you need a host that can keep up.
If you are initially signed up for a shared hosting plan, you might quickly outgrow this capacity. A good host will work with you to make rapid changes to your hosting plan in order to accommodate your evolving resource and traffic needs without temporarily stifling performance.
Depending on how large your store becomes and the volume of traffic you receive, you may have to swiftly transition to a virtual private server (e.g. see fastest VPS hosting by AccuWeb Hosting) or a dedicated server.
Anytime your ecommerce store is offline, you are losing out on potential sales. Worse still, it earns your site a bad reputation with anyone who may have attempted to access it when it was down. The average modern consumer is notoriously impatient and won’t hesitate to move to a competitor if they experience the slightest inconvenience.
Some website hosts offer an uptime guarantee that provides some form of financial compensation for the period your website was offline. However, this amount is rarely commensurate with the actual loss of business you experienced when your site was down.
Ergo, instead of banking on cash-back guarantees, focus on keeping downtime at near zero. Find hosts that have a solid reputation for high uptime with numerous independent customer reviews to prove it.
Protecting your customers’ data should be at the very top of your priority list. Data loss and security breaches not only damage your brand but may also leave you vulnerable to legal action and regulatory penalties.
At the minimum, all customer data (e.g. credit card numbers, social security number and physical address) as well as any other sensitive business information (such as employee remuneration and detailed business strategy) must be encrypted at all times. The most effective and convenient way to do this is installing an SSL certificate. Don’t sign up with a website host that does not support SSL certificates.
Other nice security features to have include server monitoring and regular automated backups.
4. Customer Support
No web host can ever be problem-free indefinitely. Even the best hosting service will run into issues every once in a while. In addition, you may experience some problems with your site that need the advice or intervention of the web host. No matter what the source of your problem is, you want to be certain that it will be addressed as soon as you raise it with the web host’s customer support.
Steer clear of any hosting provider whose customers are constantly complaining about slow, indifferent and inconsistent support. Imagine you are in the midst of the biggest sale season of the year and you experience a major issue with your site. In the absence of fast and effective customer support, you’ll suffer huge losses in potential sales.
With these tips, you have a better understanding of how you can identify the right web host for your ecommerce store.