Your e-commerce website is only as good as its host. The best designed and organized site in the world won’t attract customers if it’s insecure, unreliable or constantly subject to outages. Here are some key elements to look for when you’re choosing a host.
This is the first question to ask a prospective host. The percentage of uptime is perhaps the single most important factor in determining whether you should entrust your site’s hosting to a particular company. At a bare minimum, an e-commerce host should give 99.8 percent uptime – many hosts nowadays offer as much as 99.9 percent.
It’s crucial to find out what they are prepared to offer in terms of compensation if you don’t get the uptime you were promised. Some hosting companies offer a money-back guarantee, while higher-end hosts may offer more generous compensation.
Check how much storage space the hosting company is offering with the account you’re considering. Steer clear of packages that include anything less than 1GB. While a basic e-commerce installation might only need about 100MB of disk space initially, this offers you little “growing room”. As your business expands, you’re bound to want to add more material; this will often include data-hungry audiovisual content such as instructional videos or animations.
Bandwidth is important for any website, but it’s even more important for an e-store. The higher your bandwidth, the more visitors your site can support simultaneously. You might be able to get away with 50GB of bandwidth if your site is fairly modest. If you want to offer high-bandwidth content, such as product videos, you will probably need at least 500GB to keep everything running smoothly.
Server hardware is the Web host’s Achilles’ heel. Even if everything else goes right, poor server hardware can undermine your e-commerce site in a number of ways. Unexpected outages are often related to shoddy or outdated hardware. As well as reducing the risk of unscheduled downtime, better-configured hardware means that your site will operate more smoothly, with fewer glitches and faster page loading times. Slow page loading times are one of the main reasons for visitors “bouncing” (leaving without making a purchase). Slow loading times and poor functionality also count against you when search engines rank your site.
The majority of Web hosts offer Linux-based hosting which supports site software programmed in PHP/MySQL. If you’re planning to use a shopping cart programmed in Asp. Net, you’ll need to find Windows-based hosting.
When you’re running an e-commerce site, you will be handling customers’ sensitive personal information. Your store should offer your customers the reassurance of SSL (secure socket layer) certificates when they log in. Your site should also be backed up by state-of-the-art data security at your host’s end, protecting your valuable client information against unauthorized access.
Security is extremely important. An impression of poor security is one of the biggest barriers to closing a sale – customers won’t want to make a purchase from your site if they don’t feel that they can trust you with their financial information. Depending on the situation, you could also find yourself held liable for damages in the event of a security breach.