What Sort of Website Hosting is Best for Ecommerce?
 

What Sort of Website Hosting is Best for Ecommerce?

If you own an ecommerce store, then reliable performance and a great user experience should be near the top of your list for your website.

The website hosting you choose plays a big role. It can either help your website performance or cause it to take a frustrating dive. In fact, choosing the type of hosting is probably one of the most important things on the list for any ecommerce site.

There are different types of hosting to choose from, but what sort is best for ecommerce? We’re breaking down the types along with the pros and cons of each:

Types of web hosting

Every website needs a host. That means that your website gets housed or hosted on a server, which stores all of your website files and delivers your website on-screen when users call it up. 

Hosting services are everywhere, but not all are created equal. Sometimes what appears to be a great deal turns out to be not-so-great, especially if your cheap hosting deal means a slow-running website.

Here are the different types of hosting you’ll find:

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is where the hosting company hosts your website on a server that is shared with other websites. An advantage of this is that it tends to be a cheaper option. You share the cost of the server with the other websites being hosted on it, as well as all of the server resources. Those super-cheap hosting deals you see will almost always be for shared hosting.

A major disadvantage of shared hosting, especially for ecommerce stores, is that you can end up at the mercy of both the hosting company and the other sites sharing the same server. For example, sometimes hosting companies will try to cram too many websites on the same server. When this happens, just one or two popular sites can put a heavy traffic load on the server and slow down other sites. As a worst-case, sometimes the server can quit altogether and shut down service to all sites if it becomes overloaded.

As an ecommerce site, you need to consider the potential for a surge in traffic. If you were to run a Boxing Day sale and draw a large amount of traffic, you need to know that your website hosting will hold up and provide a good experience. Any slow-downs or website downtime can cost you a lot of money.

Website hosting for ecommerce

Virtual private server (VPS)

A virtual private server (VPS) could be described as the next step up from shared hosting. VPS’s share one physical server, so multiple websites will still be stored on the same hardware. However, each website gets its own dedicated amount of server resources that can’t be impacted by whatever is happening on other websites on the server. This avoids the potential of other sites on the server bringing down yours!

An advantage is that you get more customized configurations and storage space for your own website. It can almost feel like a private server. A disadvantage is that most still can’t handle significant spikes in traffic so you can find your site slowed down on that Boxing Day sale! You still have to play by the rules of the hosting company in terms of what and how you configure your hosting.

Dedicated server hosting

Just as it sounds, dedicated server hosting means that your website gets a whole server to itself. You don’t have to share resources with anyone else, and you get full root and admin access to the server.

This is a costlier option, but any busy ecommerce site will find a dedicated server well worth it. You get peace of mind that no other sites on the server will cause problems and that it should be able to handle any traffic surges. (We say “should” because there are still some older servers out there that are running older technology).

If yours is a busy ecommerce website, then consider also that when you opt for a dedicated server, you also need the technical expertise to manage it. You might need to pay a system administrator, for example.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is a relatively new option. It lets hundreds of individual servers work together so that it works as one giant server. Basically, as the need grows for the server, the hosting company can add more servers to support it. It also means that if one server goes offline, others will seamlessly pick up the slack.

You could look at cloud hosting as next-level VPS hosting  – there will be many other websites on the same hosting, but there is more hardware to hold it all together. This reduces the risk of downtime or slow running.

Cloud hosting allows websites to scale up or down, depending on what they need. They’re usually charged out according to how much you use. For many ecommerce websites, this is an ideal solution.

As more companies are entering the field with cloud hosting available, this is helping to drive down the cost a bit. For smaller businesses, this means cloud hosting may be a good option too.

Managed hosting

A lot of maintenance activities are involved with running a server and a website. You need regular updates to keep your website working optimally. Managed hosting is where the hosting company takes care of that maintenance for you.

Most web hosting companies will offer some form of technical support, if not fully managed hosting. Without it, you’re on your own for all of those maintenance activities.

Another thing to look out for is managed hosting that specialises in the type of website platform your ecommerce store is built on. For example, you’ll see “managed hosting for WordPress” frequently advertised. This means that the host company has expertise in the platform they’re offering managed hosting for.

As a final note, some ecommerce platforms include managed hosting as part of their package. For example, if you have a store on Squarespace, your store is hosted by them and you can’t take it elsewhere. An advantage of these platforms is that they tend to be quite user-friendly for store owners and relatively simple to get started on. A disadvantage is that you give up some control over your site. Your website files stay with the platform – you can’t just decide to switch from Squarespace to somewhere else one day and take your intact website with you.

Website hosting for ecommerce
What type of hosting is best for ecommerce? Always look for speed and reliability Share on X

Considerations for ecommerce hosting

With those hosting options in mind, you might already have an idea of the type of website hosting that will be best for your ecommerce store. There isn’t one right answer, but there are some points to consider when making your choice:

  1. Fast and reliable wins. You can’t have your website running so slowly that it scares off customers, nor can you have it going down or experiencing outages. Fast, reliable hosting should be your #1 criteria.

    You’ll find that every hosting service claims they are the fastest and best, so doing a little digging can be necessary. Hosting Facts presents uptime and other performance data on hosting services.

    If you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few contenders, have a look at their reviews. People are very quick to go public when their hosting doesn’t work for them! You can also look on channels like Twitter. Search for a hashtag like “#[name of host] down” and you’ll find any Tweets from outages.
  2. Bandwidth and file storage. Ecommerce websites typically have large files and take up a lot of storage space. You need the capacity to handle that, along with the traffic volumes you expect. For example, what if you were to add a whole new product line? You’d need more product images and potentially other forms of media that take up a lot of space. Your hosting needs to allow for that.
  3. Support. No one has ever had a completely error-free website at all times. There’s a good chance you’ll need some help at some point, so looking for a hosting service with strong, reliable support is important.

Final thoughts

Website hosting is an important decision to make for your ecommerce website. There are several different options and not all will provide you with the speed and reliability you need.

When choosing your website hosting option, consider needs that are important for ecommerce. What happens when you get a surge of traffic? What happens if another website on the same server gets a surge of traffic?

The bottom line is that it’s about providing an optimal experience for your customers so that they’re more likely to buy, and to keep coming back!