It’s no use having a fantastic ecommerce store if the hosting isn’t up to par. You might as well work on an impressive indoor art installation and then lock the doors and shutter the windows so no one can actually see it. Your store host makes sure that everything works as it should — that people can reach your store and order through it without experiencing any major delays.
But it isn’t as simple as choosing from a set of web hosts ranked on a simple linear scale, because each has its advantages and disadvantages. You must think carefully about what your particular store needs: what platform it uses, what speed it demands, and what level of support you’ll likely need from a host.
Here are some tips for choosing the optimal host for your ecommerce store:
While many hosting providers — most, in fact — will gladly (and competently) host a website using any functional platform, it’s common for any given hosting provider to adopt a strong focus on one specific platform. The practical consequences of this vary, but if a host mentions a preference for a certain platform, you can reasonably infer several things:
This is important because you’re always going to encounter some issues with your CMS of choice, no matter how polished it may be (and no matter how many resources its creator can bring to bear). When that happens, you can of course try to resolve them yourself, or seek support from the wider online community — but being able to go directly to your web host will save you a lot of time and effort.
For example, SiteGround is a very popular host that places a lot of emphasis on its use for WordPress (and WooCommerce) websites. In fact, it has committed so strongly to that angle that WordPress.org actually recommends it specifically. If you’re interested in using WooCommerce for your store, then, you’d get excellent results with SiteGround.
Critical reviews from expert sites aren’t likely to prove sufficient when you’re trying to get an idea of what you can expect from using a hosting service. They’re exceptionally useful in general, of course — consider the nature of this site! — but they don’t tell the whole story.
In many cases, for instance, a hosting service will offer a critic an extended trial of a service, and have the opportunity to allocate extra resources to ensure that everything performs optimally. This leads to the resulting review reflecting an experience that has little in common with the service provided to the average user.
Similarly, consumer reviews aren’t always particularly useful. Conventional users can’t be relied upon to do much research before they offer their thoughts — an unsatisfied customer might bemoan the lack of a particular feature that’s actually present in the system (having simply missed it), or slate the company for its pricing despite comparable services being no cheaper.
What’s truly important is that you form your own impression in the end: one that’s as well-rounded as possible. Only then will you be able to make a fully-informed decision about which hosting provider to choose.
You may find a hosting provider that boasts a great amount of relevant expertise, but simply having that expertise won’t do much if they prove unable (or unwilling) to share it with you. And when things go wrong, you need to know that you can get some assistance in a timely fashion. Savvy advice that only arrives a week after your site stopped working won’t help much.
Very often, beginners to ecommerce don’t give too much thought to support requests, assuming that they’ll be able to figure things out as they go. This is a mistake. The quality, nature and convenience of your hosting support will prove vital. Once you’ve established a solid shortlist of viable contenders, narrow them down using support as the primary factor.
At a minimum, consider each of the following:
You might find that a support package that sounds good actually has small print stating that the company can decide to stop providing support if it feels that you’ve placed too many requests. Do you want to risk needing assistance during a time of crisis but seeing a fair-use policy cited as a justification for leaving you in the lurch?
Wrapping up, following this process — lining up hosts that cater to your platform, filtering them using reviews, then filtering them down to optimal candidates based on support provision — should leave you in a strong position to decide. Commit time to the matter now so you can proceed with confidence that your store will prove robust.