There are lots of moving parts to an e-commerce store. Getting yours up and running can be an exciting process, but don’t go full steam ahead and forget one of the most fundamental parts: finding the ideal hosting for your online store.
Pick one in a hurry, and you might find later that it doesn’t quite meet your needs. But take just a little time upfront to figure out what you need and compare web hosts to find the right one, and your store will be built on the best possible foundation. Here’s how to choose an excellent web host that works for you.
Understanding Your Hosting Needs
Step one is understanding what you need from a web host. This depends largely on the size of your business; you can always upgrade hosting once your business grows, but if you’re already established, you can’t afford to skimp on this!
Small to Medium-Sized Businesses
Start-ups or smaller stores can get away with shared hosting if the budget is very tight. But if at all possible, we recommend choosing VPS hosting at a minimum—your store won’t be subject to fluctuations if another website on the server gets an influx of traffic.
Large Businesses and High-Traffic Stores
Bigger stores or those that already get a lot of traffic will need dedicated web hosting at the very least. This will be able to handle the demands of traffic. If your budget allows, we highly recommend cloud hosting—it’s by far the most reliable, most stable, and most flexible.
E-Commerce Specific Features
Once you’ve settled on what type of hosting will work for your e-commerce store right now, you need to choose a host that offers e-commerce-specific features. Research and make a list of hosts that offer:
Shopping Cart Integration
Make sure the host you choose is compatible with e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. If your customers can’t check out, you won’t make sales!
Payment Gateway Support
Choose a host that supports your preferred payment gateways. Not all hosts do, so double-check that you aren’t choosing one that excludes popular payment methods.
Inventory Management Tools
Managing your inventory effectively is essential for success. Choose a web host that offers easy, intuitive inventory management tools.
Security can’t be understated. Go for a host that emphasizes secure transitions and uses SSL certificates and other security measures. This is key not only for the security of your website but for the security of your buyers.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing E-Commerce Hosting
Got your list? Compare web hosting providers based on these factors to find out which ones would help your e-commerce business grow.
Performance and Uptime
The web host you choose should guarantee 99.99% uptime (or more). This is the industry standard. Drop below that, and your store’s downtime may start cutting into business. The more your store is offline, the more business you’ll lose—and customers may not give you a second chance if they try to buy once and you’re offline.
Do your research on each host’s server speed and response times. You want a host that’s fast and reliable and prioritizes fast page loading speeds. The slower your site loads, the more people are going to jump ship and find a store they can browse fast!
You can never have TOO much security. You’ll be handling sensitive information, like your customers’ credit card details. Trust us—just one breach and all trust in your brand will be lost. Choose a host with security features like:
- SSL certificates: protect and encrypt important data.
- Firewalls: prevent cyberattacks and unauthorized transactions.
- DDoS protection: an essential to protect against cyberattacks.
- Regular security updates: Keep your site up-to-date and healthy.
- Vulnerability scanning: identifies and addresses threats quickly.
Of course, you want your store to grow. However, not all web hosts will be able to grow with you. Choose a web host that offers scalable plans, so you can easily move up a tier or add extra features to your plan as your business gets bigger and busier.
Cloud hosting is the most scalable of all. If you’re serious about scalability, we recommend cloud hosting from the start—you can increase the resources you need as you need them, effectively personalizing your hosting to suit exactly where your business is at the time.
Features Tailored to E-Commerce
Not all web hosts cater to the needs of e-commerce stores. Before settling on a host, make sure it offers features tailored to e-commerce, and make sure those features are accessible on the plan you’ll be using.
- Compatibility with popular e-commerce platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc)
- Secure payments gateway option to cater to the majority of buyers
- Easy shopping cart function to make the buying process simple
- User-friendly inventory management tools
- Easy-to-access data analytics for your store
- Third-party integrations depending on what you need (shipping, marketing, etc)
On-demand customer support is a must. If something goes wrong with your store, you can’t wait hours for a customer support agent to come online, or you risk losing out on sales and annoying customers!
Web hosts with 24/7 customer service should get priority on your list. Find a host that’s reachable by phone, email, and chatbot so you can get quick assistance when you have an issue.
Choosing the ideal hosting for your online store is a bit of a process, but trust us—spend some time on it upfront, and it’ll save you hassle down the line. Choose a host that ticks all the boxes that your business needs and you’ll have a strong foundation to build your e-commerce business on.
Don’t fall into the trap of skimping on web hosting! It’s easy to justify choosing cheap hosting, but you’ll kick yourself later on when you realize it doesn’t have the oomph to push your e-commerce business to new heights.
About the Author
Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related on his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting.