What to Look Out for in eCommerce Hosting?
The eCommerce industry is booming and is expected to reach $25 trillion this year. Yet even with major players such as Amazon dominating the scene, digital technology has advanced to such an extent that even the smallest businesses can extend their reach to cyberspace easily.
However, smaller businesses can’t afford the major resources that big business has. To overcome this, they need to be especially selective in their hosting options.
Ideally, eCommerce hosting should focus on;
- Hosting Speed – Consumers today are demanding and will not hesitate to leave an online store that takes too long to load.
- Reliability – Likewise, sites that are frequently unavailable due to whatever reasons tend to get a bad reputation and likely lose potential customers.
- Security – eCommerce often involves personal and financial information processing and customers need to know that their details are safe.
- Auto SSL setup – eCommerce platforms / hosting that auto setup and renew your SSL certificate is preferred.
- Shopping Cart Support – For self-hosted online store, a web host that support your specific shopping cart software (PrestaShop, Magento, WooCommerce etc) is preferred.
- Online Payments Support – Depending on your online store revenue and your geographical location, a good online store hosting should allow you to integrate a merchant account and collect online payment seamlessly.
Best Hosting Solutions for Online Stores
Shopify is a niche among niches. Website builders are a subset of web hosts since they are designed around the premise of rapid site development and offer web hosting as a by-product. Shopify is a website builder that has chosen to focus heavily on the eCommerce scene.
Although this limits its target market somewhat it does mean that Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms around. Today it hosts over 170,000 online stores and offers almost any feature you could want to include in an eCommerce website.
This means not just creating the digital storefront but also ancillary services such as support for worldwide payments processors, marketing tools and even the ability to help you integrate your digital store with a physical one.
- Unmetered storage and bandwidth
- List an infinite number of products
- Multiple online sales channels
- Website builder with free templates
- Multiple discount code formats
- Fraud analysis with Shopify payments
- Unified dashbaord with finance reporting
- 24/7 Support via chat, phone, and email
- Lite plan allows easy sales on existing websites
- Integration with Facebook and Google ads
- Retail integration with POS system
- Access to discounted shipping rates
- Discounts for annual and biennial plans.
- Free trial available
- Multiple fees and commissions payable
- No free domain name provided
- Limited SEO options
BigCommerce may not have the lion’s share of the eCommerce platform market but it does lay claim to many famous brands such as Hush Puppies and PayPal among its clientele. It may be a little more complex than Shopify but in terms of additional features for both web and sales, BigCommerce comes out strong.
Aside from just the eCommerce platform the experienced BigCommerce team also offers services that would be useful to those who are new to eCommerce. This includes launch and account management services which would help you hit the ground running.
The entire system is designed to help people with little technical skill and knowledge build and launch successful online stores with all the necessary bells and whistles. You can handle so many things here including digital payments, discounts and coupons and even customize your product offerings.
- Agile drag-and-drop website builder
- Customizable pre-built themes
- Complete mobile-responsive capability
- Supports coupons and discounts
- Bulk import tool allows easy migration
- Digital Wallet compatible
- Choose from over 65 payment gateways and supports over 250 currencies
- No transaction fees
- Pricing customization for B2B sales
- Analytics Dashboard has comprehensive reporting
- Supports cross-channel sales
- Integrates with WordPress
- Extensive and powerful APIs available
- Pricing can be prohibitive for new stores
- Limited add-on applications
- Complicated to migrate away from
SiteGround is one of the most prominent names in the web hosting business and has a stellar performance record. They have a full product range so no matter the size of your site there is room to grow here.
One of the key things to note where eCommerce is included is that SiteGround sells specialized WooCommerce based plans. This is added to by the inclusion of support for shopping carts and the provision of a free SSL certificate for security.
SiteGround has five data centers in three key global locations supporting the Americas, Europe and Asia. This means that no matter your target audience, you will be able to locate your site close to them for maximum performance.
They have the distinction of not just being recommended by WordPress.com but also Drupal, another great platform which can be used for eCommerce activities. Still, at the end of the day, sites will most likely gain success with SiteGround through their outstanding server performance on higher plans which will make an impact.
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Choice of five server locations
- Highly scalable plans
- Excellent customer support via live chat
- Automated backups with self-restore
- Free site migration for new customers
- HTTP/2 enabled in all plans
- Free SiteBuilder
- Shared plans offer limited storage
- Relatively high renewal prices
- Limited developer options on some plans
TSOHost brings us back to the land of traditional hosting. They offer specialized WordPress eCommerce plans that are suitable not just for new sites but also websites that are looking for a change of host. Their almost one-and-a-half-decade history in web hosting inspires confidence and they back this with solid money-back guarantees.
While many hosts offer site migration services, tsoHost goes one step further by offering to help move eCommerce sites. Moving transactional sites is often more complex than simple content-based sites but tsoHost will assign an engineer to do this for you.
Their shared hosting plans are also Cloud-based which means that they are not just ultra-reliable but offer you the potential headroom that you need in order to scale your business seamlessly. There are also a ton of freebies including free domain name and SSL certificates.
The company is based in the UK and manages their own data center there. This is idea for users who seek a very central location in the world. Best of all, administering their own data center means very reasonable prices for their clients.
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free domain name
- Free site migration
- Daily backup
- Only UK-based servers
- No free SSL
- Limited phone / chat support
- Limited storage space
5. A2 Hosting
Another hosting provider that offers superior products and services is A2 Hosting. They have a ton of hosting solutions but specifically offer eCommerce plans that are optimized for Magento and PrestaShop. In fact, they are a recommended host by the latter as well.
eCommerce hosting plans with A2 Hosting come along with free SSL certificates, shopping cart solutions and support for a wide variety of eCommerce platforms. Aside from the focus on Magento and PrestaShop you can also opt for others of course. This includes WordPress and its famous WooCommerce plugin.
In all, A2 Hosting offers a wide range of potential solutions to fit almost any need. They also back this up with excellent performance and reliability. Time as you know is money and having that extra speed can make all the difference in closing the sale or not. When hosting here, you have a choice of three strategic locations covering the US, Europe and Asia.
A2 Hosting Pros
- Server locations in North America, Europe, and Asia
- Free website migration assistance
- Custom optimizations tools available
- High sign-up discounts and anytime money back guarantee
- Developer-oriented features even on shared hosting
- Encrypted backup solutions available
- Root access with all VPS plans
A2 Hosting Cons
- No free domain name
- Free site transfers mainly for cPanel installations
- HTTP/2 only on TURBO plans
Why a Good Web Host is Important to Your eCommerce Business?
In line with the increased number of online shoppers and increased spend, more businesses are starting to move into the digital arena. This means that competition is just as tough and a good eCommerce host can make a difference for you.
Just as location and size matter to physical stores, online stores have their own unique requirements in hosting. Depending on the needs you have for your store, not all hosting companies would be an idea fit for you.
Slow Hosting Loses Customers
Speed is the lifeblood of any online store and studies have shown that website loading speeds affect customer conversions. This means that the slower your site, the more likely it is that you will lose potential customers.
Here at HostScore we constantly test and analyze web host speeds and reliability to help you make better choices. Here’s how HostScore works.
Self-hosting versus One-Stop Solutions
There are two main ways that you can create an online store.
|Self-Hosted Online Stores||One-stop eCommerce Solutions|
|Highly scalable||Easier to build and deploy sites|
|More flexibility in choice of features||Integrated features such as payments, shipping, etc|
|Easier to migrate host||Requires little to no technical knowledge|
|No extra fees||-|
|Less specialized support||Generally more expensive than self-hosting|
|More difficult to set up||Extra features could cost more|
|Host migration might be problematic|
1. One-stop eCommerce Solutions
The first is the easiest and involves using a platform designed to help build and deploy online stores. Platforms such as these charge monthly fees and have tools that will enable even the least-tech savvy amongst us a fighting chance of creating a professional online store.
This option is ideal for smaller businesses which have limited resources to sink into a digital transformation. Simply by paying a small fee, you can quickly build and deploy an eCommerce site.
One-stop eCommerce Solutions are ideal for;
- Smaller businesses
- Businesses with limited technical capabilities
- Those who require reliable reporting tools
2. Self-hosted Online Stores
For those who have some skills in web development or are able to invest a bit more, self-hosting an eCommerce site could offer greater flexibility and, in the long run, lower your financial commitment.
In self-hosted online stores, you have greater control over your host which means that you can optimize your site to its maximum efficiency. You are also open to a wider range of solutions, both in choice of web application and payments processing.
Self-hosted Online Stores suit;
- Medium to larger businesses
- Stores with potentially higher volumes of sales
- Those needing specific platforms
- Online shops that require specific payment methods
Verdict: Online Stores Are the Way to Go!
As you are probably realizing by now, eCommerce is simply the way of the future. Not only has payments technology caught up to enable eCommerce activities on a broad front but consumer trend is indicating positivity as well.
There are also so many ways you can approach eCommerce that there really isn’t a reason not to do it. You can either choose to move completely online or even maintain a balance of physical and digital while integrating the inventory management for both.
Setting up a store now is probably as simple as it’s ever going to be. There are also the additional benefits that come from the optimizations offered by all the excellent hosts we’ve covered here. You don’t need to be a big business to go digital and doing it doesn’t have to mean massive investment in web development either.
Success still won’t happen overnight, but take heed from the way the world is moving and take the time to get it done now.