Running an e-commerce site requires a great deal of technical expertise, and although the most basic requirements are sufficient enough to get the site online, exceeding the minimum will enhance your chances for success. Much of this depends on the capabilities of your web host.
Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when choosing an eCommerce host that’ll be able tomeet all your e-commerce needs.
One of the most important aspects of e-commerce hosting is invisible from the customer side of the site: security. Hosts with shared packages or managed dedicated servers should be installing patches and upgrades for server-side aspects such as the operating system, mailing system, PHP package and database. If you choose an unmanaged dedicated server, though, you’ll be responsible for this aspect, so you should only choose an unmanaged server if you or someone on your staff is already competent at handling security.
Up Time is King
It won’t matter how secure or fast a server is if it’s down. Although every host occasionally has to shut things off to install updates or perform maintenance, these scheduled down-times should happen in the middle of the night, not when would-be customers are hammering on the virtual doors. Watch out for reports of hosts going offline during the day.
The Need for Speed
Speed gets plenty of press, and for good reason. Today’s customers don’t want to wait several seconds for your pages to load. The speed of a site depends on a combination of server power and programming. A server that has a large amount of CPU power and RAM will be able to chew through calculations much faster than one that’s more limited.
The programming of your site is also important. Clunky programming chews up extra CPU cycles and can bog down even the most powerful server. Use a popular, well-tested e-commerce cart solution to avoid this problem.
Many hosting companies brag about the bandwidth lines they have going to and from their data centers, but this aspect shouldn’t be a concern. Nowadays, any company that isn’t operating out of someone’s basement should have decent Internet connections. Avoid the dirt-cheap tier, and you should be safe on this one.
Watch Out for “optimized for” Sales Pitches
Many hosts love to say that their servers are optimized for popular e-commerce software packages such as Zen Cart, Magento, and others. Ignore that spin. All it takes to run most pre-packaged e-commerce software is PHP and MySQL, and pretty much every paid host with average pricing has those things.
Keep Scalability in Mind
For most start-ups, there’s no need to worry about this right away, but eventually, though, you should outgrow a basic shared hosting package. To ensure that future upgrades will be easy, choose a host that offers a full range of options, including dedicated and managed dedicated servers. Some will even help you migrate from their shared packages to their dedicated offerings when the time comes.
With these main points in mind, you should be able to track down an e-commerce hosting provider that will meet your business requirements. Other factors may be important, but hitting these key aspects will save you from grief as you start up your site.