E-commerce 101: Choosing The Best Website Host

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The prevalence of online shopping has increased dramatically in recent years. As technology has evolved, the ease of access to e-commerce for businesses has also improved. This evolution has created new and exciting opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners.

If you’re considering starting an e-commerce business, you’ll need the right website hosting to start your business on the right foot. Here are some important considerations to help you choose the best website host.

Website Speed is High Priority

One of the most important considerations when choosing a hosting service is website speed. The importance of this feature is two-fold.

First and foremost, website speed directly impacts your user experience. The general online experience has become more streamlined over the past two decades. Whereas people used to have to wait for their dial-up connection to take hold and individual lines of pixels to load, today’s consumer is primed for instant gratification.

In fact, a one-second delay in loading can result in a 7% loss of sales. Nearly half of customers expect a website to load in under two seconds before they start to get frustrated. 40% will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds.

On the other hand, Google also takes loading time into account when ranking websites. Tech delays will ultimately down-rank your site, giving a competitive edge to your competition.

In other words, site speed is vital for e-commerce success. Look for a hosting service known for its loading speed when trying to find a provider to suit your needs.

Look at the Server Options

Not all servers are created the same. When choosing your hosting, it helps to be familiar with the different server options and what each has to offer.

Shared Server

A shared server is a common starting point for new businesses, as it tends to be the most affordable option. When you use a shared server, that means there are other sites using the same bandwidth as you. This shared approach keeps your costs low.

However, your site’s performance will be affected by the actions of your virtual roommates. If one site gets extremely busy, it could slow your loading time. Additionally, if one site has poor cybersecurity features and allows a breach, it could impact your page as well.

Dedicated Server

As the name implies, a dedicated server allows you to have a server to yourself. As a result, you’ll have more flexibility and bandwidth, as well as autonomy for your site. Having a dedicated server tends to be more expensive than a shared server, making it challenging for new businesses.

However, a dedicated server gives you more control, faster loading times, and enhanced security and scalability. Take some time to learn more about dedicated servers before making a decision.

Virtual Private Server

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a cloud-based alternative to the shared server. Like a shared server, there will be other sites on the same VPS. However, the flexibility offered by the cloud reduces some of the concerns about bandwidth and speed.

Cloud-based hosting is also ideal for those who have fluctuating needs throughout the year.

Consider Bandwidth and Scaleability

Bandwidth refers to the speed and volume of data processing offered by your hosting service. In other words, it’s your site’s ability to meet demand while offering a consistent user experience. If you’ve ever been on an e-commerce site during Black Friday and had it load much slower than usual, that’s because of the bandwidth.

Scalability and bandwidth are important considerations for seasonal e-commerce businesses. Your business might only need the bandwidth for 100 visitors on an average business day. However, during peak times (like Black Friday), you might need to be able to host 1000 visitors at the same time. Looking for a hosting service that offers that flexibility will help prevent downtime.

1% Downtime is Too Much

Downtime is when your site is inoperable. Many of the cheaper hosting services will advertise that they boast a 99% uptime rate. This is an example of clever advertising; don’t be fooled. 99% uptime means 1% downtime. In other words, you can expect your site to be down for 87 hours each year. A reputable provider will guarantee 99.8% uptime or higher. It seems like a small difference, but it means an hour of downtime each month instead of seven.

What does downtime mean for your e-commerce business? When Amazon’s infamous Prime Day crash occurred, the business lost an estimated $1.2 million per minute for a total loss of $90 million in just over an hour.

While your e-commerce business is unlikely to become the next Amazon, this example shows why uptime is so important. If a potential customer clicks on your URL and gets an error message, they’ll turn tail and run to your competitor.

Consider Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a multi-faceted area of concern. When business owners think of cybersecurity, they tend to envision a Hollywood depiction of a hacker cracking codes in a poorly lit basement. However, the vast majority of data breaches and data loss are caused by employee error.

When choosing hosting, there are two main focal points for cybersecurity features. First is an SSL Certificate. This file encrypts data as it’s being transferred, protecting sensitive information, like your customers’ credit card numbers. Not only does this prevent a damaging loss of data, but it also keeps your business in compliance with regulations and impacts SEO.

The next area of concern with cybersecurity is automatic back-ups. This protocol will protect your business in the event of data loss, as you can reset to a previous time. It’s estimated that over half of businesses that experience data loss or a breach go under within six months.

While customers aren’t as stringent as they used to be when spending money online, data security is important to them. Be sure to choose a website host that’s in alignment with those concerns.

Cost vs. Value

When you get down to it, choosing the right hosting service is about finding the right value. It’s worth it to pay more for better customer support, enhanced cybersecurity, fast loading times, and more uptime. Shop around to find the right provider for your e-commerce business.

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