Launching an ecommerce site, while similar in many ways to other web endeavors, brings its own unique challenges and requirements. Your standard informational site has fairly easy content management and website hardware requirements are low in comparison to an ecommerce site which is much more resource hungry.
Depending on your level of expertise, you may not know where to start when it comes to getting your site into a functional state. Maybe you’ve heard great things about Magento as an ecommerce platform and want to get right to uploading product listings. If Magento has too much of a learning curve for you, there’s always WordPress with its fleet of plugins to make it a respectable ecommerce platform. The CMS you choose is up to you, but once all of that is established it’s time for the million dollar question; where am I going to put this thing?
Shared hosting? Not so fast.
Right off the bat, unmanaged shared hosting has to be disqualified. Yes, no one wants to accrue more overhead and money needs to be saved wherever it can be. But, the money you’re saving by opting for shared isn’t worth the headaches you’re setting yourself up for. Being on the losing end of your server “neighbors” resource usage can take your site offline during critical business hours. Of course, you could also be the person using a tremendous portion of server resources that takes others offline. Ecommerce sites tend to be the sites that push shared to its limits. Either way, you’ll be dealing with more disruptions than you’d care to. Perhaps even more importantly, there are security issues you can avoid by not using shared hosting. If someone else’s site doesn’t have the proper security, all of the sites on the server could be exposed to a malicious attack. As the owner of an ecommerce site, remember what happened to Target’s image in the aftermath of its massive data breach. While you may not expose over 100 million customers’ personal information to the dark web, just one instance of compromising a customer’s personal information could damage your business beyond repair.
What’s the best option, then?
While a VPS is a step in the right direction, and perhaps even enough for some smaller storefronts just starting out, it’s really a dedicated server that’s probably the best option when it comes to ecommerce sites specifically. If you’ve got exponential growth in your future (as every business owner hopes) you might as well skip straight to the hosting solution you’re going to eventually need anyway.
There is no question opting for dedicated is a more expensive option compared to sharing. But this is all relative. If your site is the main driver of your business, the extra resources that come with it are critical to your success. If you’ve experienced running an ecommerce site using other solutions, you’ll see that switching is like getting a supercharge when it comes to loading times, bandwidth, and handling high traffic loads. Using a “dedi” may actually increase how much business you do. Yes, your hosting can actually have impacts on how well visitors respond to your site.
Why would a customer care where I host my site?
Technically speaking, they won’t. They have no idea who your host is. But they’ll certainly feel the difference throughout their experience visiting your site. Let’s look at some stats. How long do you think the average visitor will tolerate waiting for the site to load? Ten seconds? Five seconds? Not even. You’ve got a whopping two seconds to convince someone coming to your site that you’re open for business. Still think slow loading times and unresponsiveness are something you can tough out?
Much like in a brick and mortar store, wait time plays a big part in customer satisfaction. Have you ever stood in a checkout line that you thought would never end? After evaluating the situation, did you abandon your goods and just leave the store without buying anything? Most people have probably been in that exact situation. Online shoppers are no different. They’ll absolutely move on to the competition if they think they’ll have a smoother experience. And in this case, it doesn’t include having to take a drive across town to the other store. Studies have shown that customers will switch to the competition if they find the competitor’s site is slightly faster than yours. How much faster? About 250 milliseconds, which is about the length of time it takes you to blink your eyes.
Shopping cart abandonment is a real problem that using a more powerful server can help cut down on. About 18% of abandoned carts are due to slow loading times, which over the course of the year could end up costing you thousands of dollars in lost sales. The opposite is also true. By reducing your load time by mere seconds, you could see a positive trend in sales numbers.
Also keep in mind that site speed does have a minor role in your marketing efforts. If you’ve ever engaged in a search engine optimization campaign you know that part of Google’s “secret sauce” that makes up their algorithm is page load times. One of your key goals when marketing your ecommerce site is getting as close to the top of the Google search results as possible. While optimizing your site’s code plays a big part in how well your site loads, your server will also contribute to quicker load times for that Google bonus.
Managed hosting helps
Now that you’ve decided that using a dedicated server is the way to go, take it a step further and opt for a managed one. Managed hosting is a must have when it comes to ecommerce because of the high traffic, heavy demands, and extra need for security to protect sensitive information. When you use managed, you can take some of the focus off operational concerns such as making periodic backups of your site and upgrading software. You also get complimentary DDOS protection, which is important when you consider the large scale attacks we’ve seen recently.
Other things you’ll need
With your host squared away, there are a few more elements you’ll want to make sure are in place on your site. An SSL certificate increases your security and also acts as a signal to your customers that you take their safety seriously. A dedicated IP is another component of site security and contributes to fast speeds during peak traffic times. Lastly, a 99.9% uptime service agreement (which would be included with your managed plan) to ensure customers don’t suffer the effects of downtime.
A dedicated server is the preferred hosting solution for the owners of large ecommerce sites. The boost in speed, security, and reliability will give your business a supercharge. Whether you’re just getting your site off the ground or you’re interested in migrating your site to a new host because your current situation isn’t working out, KnownHost can help. For help or questions regarding getting a powerful server at a great price, contact us today.