By Rodney Laws | Ecommerce
The ecommerce world is very competitive and held to ever-rising standards of user experience. Due to this, ecommerce hosting isn’t something you can afford to take lightly. Choosing the right hosting solution is the key to having a store that can meet demand, deliver a top-notch shopping process, and keep running smoothly without needing constant maintenance.
If you choose a managed service like Shopify or BigCommerce, it must be noted, then you don’t need to worry about comparing hosts. Hosting is supplied for you: you don’t have a say in the matter. Either you use the provided hosting or you find another platform. It’s simple and time-saving, but it isn’t for everyone — many sellers need freedom and control.
So what if you want to run an ecommerce store with the largest number of setup options? Well, you’re going to be using WordPress with an extension such as WooCommerce — after all, the world’s most popular CMS is obviously going to have far more ecommerce hosting options than any other.
This number of options can be daunting, though, particularly if you’re not extremely familiar with the hosting world. You need to know what your options are, what factors you should be considering, and what different providers bring to the table. You don’t want to use free hosting because it won’t be good enough, but you’re not sure how to spend. In short, you need a guide — and this is where we come in.
In this roundup, we’re going to run through some of the best ecommerce hosting providers on the market today in the UK, giving you the information you need to make an informed choice. Reviews of web hosting companies are always interesting. Let’s begin.
One of the most well-known and widely-used hosting providers, SiteGround is popular (hitting a million domains back at the start of 2018) and for good reason — and it’s now a better option for ecommerce hosting than ever before due to the option to have WooCommerce pre-installed with a suitable ecommerce theme. If you don’t particularly enjoy the configuration process, this can be a huge help, saving you some time and effort.
The basic tier is currently positioned at £5.99/mo (excluding VAT) if you pay for a year in advance, or £11.99 if you want to go month by month. This gets you one website with 10gb of space and a cap of 10,000 monthly visitors (which should be plenty for a modestly-sized store). The top tier is £12.99/mo if paid annually, or £29.99 if paid monthly, and has a 100,000 visit cap over as many websites as you want to create.
Included in even the basic tier is an SSL certificate (vital for ecommerce), an email inbox, automation updates, daily backups, a CDN, 24/7 support, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee. If that 99.9% figure isn’t hit in a year, every percentage point drop will be compensated with a free month of hosting. With top-notch service and official recognition from WooCommerce, it’s the pick of the bunch.
Often pitted against Siteground in the battle for WordPress-hosting supremacy, Bluehost is certainly a contender. The most eye-catching thing about Bluehost is how little you can pay if you’re willing to make a lengthy commitment. Pay for a whopping 36-month term and you can get your bill down to just £2.96/mo (excluding VAT) for the Basic tier (allowing one website).
Note also that the price hike for higher tiers is much gentler than it is for Siteground and others. The top Pro tier comes out at £10.44/mo (excluding VAT) for that same 36-month investment, and allows unlimited websites and storage, a CDN, an SSL certificate, and various privacy and backup services. That said, this hosting isn’t aimed at ecommerce — so what is?
Well, if we look specifically at ecommerce hosting options, prices aren’t so attractive. We run into two tiers — Standard and Premium — with costs of £11.94/mo and £18.67/mo respectively (still excluding VAT), and that’s again with the 36-month commitment. This makes the service more expensive than Siteground’s equivalent. Is it worth it?
You get a lot of the work done for you, with WooCommerce configured and a suitable theme installed, so that’s definitely helpful if you want a hands-off approach. But since you need to know how to work the system eventually, this isn’t that much of a boon. What we see with Bluehost, then, is a distinct set of options. You can go for maximum value using shared hosting (which has its pros and cons), or you can spend extra for some upfront convenience.
Overall, though, Siteground provides a better balance — and its support is much more highly rated.
If you’re really looking to cut costs, InMotion can beat Bluehost with the value of its shared hosting, with its Lite tier starting at just $2.49/mo with a 36-month commitment (ostensibly on discount, though it’s likely a staple). For that money you get one website with 10gb storage and unlimited bandwidth — but the performance wouldn’t suffice for an ecommerce site.
Since you need that performance, let’s skip to the specific WordPress-hosting options. They start at $7.99/mo, which gets you two websites and 100gb of storage, and you can keep going up through the tiers — though this is indicative of a broader issue, which is the presentation of options. There’s no user-friendly ecommerce option here: no dedicated tier for sellers.
You can certainly use InMotion Hosting for ecommerce, but you’ll need to know what your requirements are ahead of time to get the best value: you’ll otherwise end up overpaying or simply failing to get the performance you need. Support comes highly recommended, at least, so you should be able to get some relevant pointers.
The value war continues with iPage taking the lead: for one website with unlimited bandwidth, a 36-month term will come to just $1.99/mo (or £1.99 for UK users). You can step things up with a WordPress-specific tier, but we’ll again skip to the most notable option: the eCommerce tier attached to its dedicated and intuitive website builder.
Hitting the same $12.99/mo price point regardless of how many months you commit to, this tier gives you everything you need to get started with ecommerce. You use the provided builder to generate your site, then use the default features (including PayPal integration) to start selling. This presents an interesting option, then: if you’re willing to give up some customisability and use a defined builder, you can get great hosting value and reliability.
Note, though, that iPage is owned by the same parent company as Bluehost, EIG — a company that has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the years (well, quite a lot).
It doesn’t mean you’ll have a bad experience, but it makes it tougher to suggest as an alternative to something like Bluehost. Siteground’s relative independence is a strength.
It may have confusing branding, but Ionos from German company 1&1 is a venerable hosting provider.
Alongside various other options, it offers managed WooCommerce hosting starting at £4/mo (excluding VAT) and going up to £18/mo (excluding VAT), though you can get a much lower rate for your first year. The middle Business tier seems like a good starting option.
On paper, everything looks great, but the user experience doesn’t get rave reviews. The interface in particular attracts criticism for being dated and difficult to use, which doesn’t inspire confidence. Having all the ingredients for a great store won’t help you that much if you can’t figure out how to add and update your products.
Because its first-year offers are so great, there’s an argument to be made for giving it a try anyway. Pay just £1/mo (excluding VAT) for a year and you can see how you fare. You can even run it alongside another hosting solution to form a stronger comparison. If you want to immediately invest in a long-term ecommerce hosting solution, though, this isn’t the best choice.
There are so many good hosting providers out there, even for WooCommerce in particular, that this was never going to be an exhaustive list. Instead, we set out to highlight some of the most interesting options around. Let’s recap, then:
In the end, any of these options can serve as a great foundation for your WooCommerce store, so choose whichever one appeals to you the most and proceed with confidence.