Ecommerce Hosting Problems: The Most Important E-Commerce Hosting Choices

Balancing The Good With The Bad

Running an e-commerce business is a fine balance. On one side of the scales is no traffic, no business, and therefore no profit. On the other side of the scales is too much traffic, server overload, massive overheads, and the end result is still no profit. The point in between where the profit margin lies can be a very fine line but if you get it right then the fine profit line can yield excellent results. Managing this balancing act is a job that entails covering every aspect of your site and your business. As well as suppliers and customers you must place a large emphasis on your website and your host.

Why Hosting Should Be Considered Important

A host is important to every website because without one there would be no website, only a website design. Yet so many Webmasters that pay thousands for a site design, hundreds for the proper shopping cart, and untold amounts of money on marketing and advertising also take their site into their own hands by opting for the budget-hosting plan. It’s true that at less than $5 or $6 per month it won’t directly break the bank if it is the wrong choice but it is more than possible that everything will run along smoothly while you have a relatively quiet initiation into the world of e-commerce.

The Worst Case Scenario

As soon as you start to receive traffic and the money is rolling in your site experiences “technical difficulties”. Customers can’t log onto your site and take their money elsewhere – probably to your main competitor. As soon as you ring your host in agitated panic you realize that the $1 per minute phone call is getting you nowhere. Eventually, after waiting five days (with no website and no profit) the technical service desk respond to your ticket to inform you that the technical difficulties are due to the fact that you are exceeding your traffic limit.

Reaching And Exceeding The Limits Of Your Unlimited Account

You try to explain that you can’t possibly be exceeding your traffic limit because your account entitles you to unlimited traffic bandwidth, and point out that it says so on the account features page. Having been directed to the terms and conditions page following another five-day wait you realize that, beyond all belief, there really is a limit to your unlimited account.

Inability To Update Your Account

After another lengthy discussion on the $1 per minute phone line you subsequently learn that you can’t update your account because there are no accounts that allow that amount of traffic. Eventually you decide to look elsewhere for a host. This time you pay attention to all the details, you consider the unlimited offers and quickly discard the majority having found the actual limit to the unlimited offer is far less than other accounts offer.

This is a somewhat pessimistic view of the budget hosting accounts that are available on the Internet but all the factors could potentially happen to you if you don’t take care in picking the right host; the kind of host that can effectively look after your e-commerce site requirements.

Overloaded Servers Means Lost Revenue

As an e-commerce business deciding on a host should be one of your main priorities right after deciding what to sell. Choose a host that doesn’t overload its servers. Ring the support desk and ask how many sites will be hosted on the server that you are hosted on. In an ideal world the answer should be ten, or twenty at the most. This is especially important for an e-commerce website. Product catalogs are notorious for consuming vast areas of space on a server hard drive so be sure that you have enough room on yours.

The Features An E-Commerce Site Needs

Features are another aspect that you will undoubtedly want to look at. Some hosting companies not only offer the usual array of file managers and brief statistics but it is also possible to get free shopping cart software and other highly beneficial e-commerce tools. Secure pages and a secure certificate offer excellent incentive for your customers to trust your service and, therefore, purchase from you. Generally e-commerce specialist hosts also offer a payment gateway and even a merchant account so you can tale online payments.

Allowing Room For Expansion

When you first start looking for a host it is important to allow your site room for growth. You may not have any visitors yet, which is unlikely if you have no host, but hopefully this will change in the future. When it does you really don’t want to find that you simply don’t have the capabilities with your existing plan to cope with it. At the very least you should find out how simple it would be to upgrade to a better account if this does happen.

Windows Or Linux

You are more likely to find a greater number of features and scripts with Linux hosting because it is an open source platform. There are a large number of developers that have created excellent programs to do many of the tasks that you need your website to do and they can be easily and quickly installed onto your server.

Bandwidth And Disk Space Limitations

The most important numbers are essentially your disk space and bandwidth. Disk space is the amount of space on the host that your website is entitled to use. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be downloaded by your visitor’s browsers on a monthly basis. Both can be quite high with an e-commerce store. If you have a large number of products in a product catalog then you are likely to also have a large number of images. The software you use and the scripts you run also take chunks from both of these figures.

Support And Technical Support Levels

Support is crucial during times of need. You don’t want to find yourself in a scenario whereby you are suffering from some unexpected “technical difficulties” but can’t get technical assistance. In these instances phone support is usually the best option because it offers a quicker solution than web based or email based support. Ensure that the option you decide on is the option that makes you happy and be aware that some budget accounts do not offer free technical support as part of the account. You may need to pay a fee or a high priced premium rate number.

E-Commerce Hosting Conclusion

E-commerce hosting is quite different to other website hosting. It has a different set of requirements with a unique feature set. Hosting accounts that include shopping cart, payment gateway, and merchant account software is generally the best option. A good level of support at reasonable costs as well as an acceptable amount of bandwidth and disk space is also important. Finally, your decision should come down to the one that fits most closely with your budget. Don’t pay for more than you will reasonably need but similarly ensure that you have enough in the event that your website takes off and you need more to fulfill your e-commerce site needs.