With the innumerable ecommerce hosting providers flooding the market today, it is indeed a nerve racking process for beginners to make the right choice. The following 10 factors will enable you to effectively adjudge the best hosting for your ecommerce site:
1. Shared vs. VPS vs. Dedicated Server: In case of a shared server, a number of ecommerce sites share a common security certificate provided by the server, and collectively access the administrative functions of the server. Many e- commerce startups commit the mistake of choosing a shared server in the beginning. This might seem to be a cost effective option at first, but once your business outgrows the capacity of the shared server, you will have to shift to a VPS or dedicated server, leading to downtime and subsequent loss of business. A VPS Server is basically a shared server that is divided into a number of virtual servers by means of a Virtualization software and implies that separate resources are pre allocated for different sites. A dedicated server is the best choice any day, as it will exclusively remain dedicated to your website. Moreover, in a dedicated server, your security standards will be higher, and your custom software and databases can utilize specific functions on the server, which is not possible on a shared server.
2. Security: Needless to say, security is of prime importance for any eCommerce site, from the merchant’s point of view as well as the customer’s point of view. The SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate for data encryption is the basic minimal security requirement that you need for your ecommerce site today. Apart from this, Digital Signatures help to authenticate the information and Firewall blocks any unwanted intrusions. Make sure that your ecommerce hosting provider equips you with all the necessary security compliances.
3. Credibility: Pushy salespersons will always tell you that their services are the very best, but how can you determine the true picture? One of the best ways to gauge the reliability and credibility of any ecommerce hosting provider is to read consumer reviews. One or two odd complaints are fine, but if you can notice persistently bad reviews, then it would be in your best interests not to choose the particular hosting plan. The second best way is to take a look at the sites that they have hosted in the past in terms of their load time, server efficiency, scalability etc. You can share your concerns and seek opinions in online forums and communities before taking a decision.
4. Reliability and Uptime: Review the server uptime statistics (past statistics as well as real time figures). Is the average uptime percentage satisfactory? Does your hosting provider give you the option of load balancing during traffic peaks, emergencies or server maintenance periods? The lower the uptime, the higher are the chances of abandoned shopping carts, failed transactions and customer dissonance. 99.99% uptime guarantee is certainly what every ecommerce business owner seeks, but very few hosting providers can guarantee this.
5. Pricing: We all have our budgetary constraints that we need to stick to; yet, if you are being offered ecommerce hosting at rock bottom prices, you should certainly not think of it as a viable option. Also beware of providers who lure you with cheap offers in the beginning, and later start charging exorbitant amounts for upgrades and maintenance. For your best interests, the trick is to attain a balance between price and quality of services.
6. Bandwidth: The bandwidth of your ecommerce site determines the number of visitors that can visit your website at one time. The best hassle free option would be to go for unlimited bandwidth packages. However, if you cannot afford the same, the minimum bandwidth requirement for images would be 50 GB, while for videos; it would require at least 500 GB.
7. Storage Space: As compared to normal websites, ecommerce websites require higher storage space owing to the voluminous content and applications involved. As per rule of thumb, 1 GB is the minimum acceptable storage space required for effective functioning of an e commerce site. But for huge ecommerce sites, even 500 GB might fall short of their requirements.
8. Geographical Location of your Server: For instance, if your target market segment is majorly based in the Asia-Pacific Region, it is advisable that you choose a server within the region to host your site. A US based server (or for that matter, a server belonging to any other region) will definitely work in the Asia Pacific Zone, but it is best that you choose a server from the same region for maximum effectiveness.
9. Statistics: Once your ecommerce site gets going; you would require a lot of data for effective marketing. Hosting plans with tools like Webalizer, Analog Log File Analysis, Stats2Web Analytics etc are necessary in this regard.
10. Technical Support: Most ecommerce hosting providers guarantee 24/7 customer support, but it is necessary to check beforehand. Check their toll free numbers work, try to speak to their existing clients and read reviews about their support services.