When starting an ecommerce business, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Business plans, marketing plans, technology decisions, logistics management, and so much more. Sometimes people don’t put much thought into their webhost. That`s a bit like buying a Ferrari and putting cheap tyres on it. The tyres might not be the most interesting or fun part of a sports car, but the performance will suffer dramatically if you make a bad choice or cut costs.
Likewise, using a cheap webhost could end up being a very costly exercise. Some problems that happen with a bad host:
- Downtime: the host could go down regularly. Unless you have a server monitoring service, it may be down for hours at a time and you won’t even know it, you`re left scratching your head why your sales are down.
- Slow performance: your website needs to fly. There’s many factors in speed, from fast shopping cart software, well optimized code and images, but also how fast your webhost is. Many studies have shown how impatient people are on the web, don`t give them an excuse to leave.
- Poor support: what happens when something goes wrong? Will the webhost play the blame game, or will they help you sort the problem out?
- Backups: many webhosts keep no backups, or only weekly backups, and may charge for restoring files from a backup, sometimes even if it’s their fault! This is the sort of thing most people don’t think about till it’s too late. Imagine losing a week’s worth of order details - disaster!
So what are the important considerations in choosing a webhost to maximize the chances of ecommerce success?
- Technology: your shopping cart software will specify technical requirements needed. At the simplest, this will mean a Windows or Linux host. Beyond that, they will usually specify a version of PHP, ASP.NET or similar, database software needed, and so on. If your host can’t support that, expect the shopping cart support department to wash their hands of you.
- Support: how do you tell who has good support before you’ve signed up? Sites like Hostsearch help you find credible hosting options with proven track records. You need to think about support times (do they guarantee to respond in one hour or 24 hours?), whether they have a phone number, and so on.
- Speed: you can look at a few customer sites, but there’s so many variables in speed, that can be a bad way to assess the speed of the host. Once again, Hostsearch can help you find proven, reliable hosting companies. It is important to find a host in the same country as your target audience. For example, a site aimed at Australians should always be hosted in Australia, regardless of where you live, to maximize speed.
- Other considerations: look at their backup policy, user reviews and complaints, how long they’ve been in business, and of course, their prices. While we would all like a high end dedicated server, most start-ups can’t afford $500+ per month hosting fees so you may have to be more conservative.
Without going overboard, don’t skimp on your webhosting and maximize yours chances of being the next Amazon.com!