We all know WordPress has been trending as an e-commerce solution for years now. Even though its primary purpose was to be a blogging CMS, the development of additional plugins and features has allowed WordPress to grab a big share of the market, if not to dominate it.
Building your online store via WP can be beneficial for many reasons:
- WordPress is probably the most user-friendly CMS out there, so it's quite manageable
- the blog is already built-in, so when it comes to creating content and attracting visitors through it, you won't have to create a separate option
- upgrading your store is possible with a minimal hassle involved
- the platform is more flexible than most e-commerce solutions you will find, especially those paid on a monthly basis
So, if you're here, you've probably made a choice already and decided to bet on WordPress for your online store. The great function of your shop, however, is tightly correlated to other factors as well, such as design, promotion, strategic partnerships etc.
We're here today to discuss one of the more technical determinants in particular - the web hosting.
Wait, what is web hosting?
For those of you that are just getting started with their online, let's make a quick note.
Web hosting is basically where your website is stored, once it's created. Same as with files on your computer, sites consist of data that need to be stored somewhere, and this is where web hosting enter the scene.
While hosting comes in numerous forms, most people start with shared hosting at the beginning, since it's a cheaper option, but still offers a decent amount of featurs.
Of course, even shared hosting then can vary significantly from one provider to another, so how would you know what to choose? From our experience as a hosting company, we collected some information from our colleagues and decided to offer it to future store owners.
Let's dive in together in this article and discover which features appear to be essential for WordPress e-commerce websites and their proper functioning.
How To Choose the Best WordPress E-commerce Hosting
As promised, here are the 5 fundamental features you should be looking for when choosing a WordPress hosting for your online store.
1. High availability
The major advantage of having an e-commerce store is that it's always online. Unlike its offline counterparts, websites are open 24/7 and this is important as the schedule will not affect your customer's ability to make a purchase.
Online magazine "Hosting facts" reported in one of their articles that most websites will be offline 3 hours per month on average due to server downtime. If your site is not accessible, this may have a massive impact on your website in terms of sales and online reputation.
Having this in mind, it's crucial to select a hosting provider that will offer maximum uptime (in other words, that will guarantee that their servers do not go offline often). What this means for you is that your website will always be online and accessible to potential customers.
Most reputable hosting companies will indeed offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee and if there is some sort of technical issue, they will act fast in trying to resolve it.
2. High-performance WordPress hosting
In addition to above stated in our previous point, another key factor is the performance of the server. Basically, this refers to the capability of the hardware on which your e-commerce site runs.
The website loading speed plays a vital role as it directly affects both your Google ranking and customer engagement.
Think about the last time you had to wait more than 3-4 seconds for a site to load - annoying right? If the waiting time goes over 5-6 sec there is a high chance you just hit the X button, and so would the majority of the online users. We all got quite spoiled!
Also, as you may have heard, speed will affect your Google rankings as well - both directly and indirectly. Search for any keyword of your choosing, and you will seldom find a slow site within the first results. Of course, ranking is not just a matter of speed, but the fact that there are no slow websites on the first page (while other metrics may vary) is quite indicative.
While your WordPress speed won't depend only on the hosting (by the way, you can read more on how to achieve better website speed here) its performance is part of the equation.
Since WordPress is specific and not very light in terms of consuming resources, specially designed WordPress hosting is recommended. Usually, you will see written "WP hosting" or "Managed WordPress hosting" etc.
If you're in doubt, the respective sales department can help you. Many people never contact Sales unless they've actually purchased something, but one of the main things these departments are great in is providing information!
3. Excellent Security
Clearly, security is one of the most important issues for online businesses. Just as with regular stores, sites can experience security breaches, but instead of being robbed they get hacked/and or infected.
A frightening amount of online businesses had unfortunately dealt with such attacks. Is this a business-ruining experience? Most likely no, but it can cost you. From sites down to malware spread from your store, security is not to be taken lightly. Therefore, some features are especially valuable:
Advanced anti-hacking technology: Features specifically developed to protect your website from cyber-attacks (such as Firewalls, DDOS protection etc). For example, we implement such technology, and as hosting provider Hostpulse will guarantee 99.99% protection from DDoS attacks.
Automatic updates: Hackers use specialized tools to scan the internet and look for websites with outdated, vulnerable software. This is especially true with WordPress since they know it's an extremely popular platform. The countermeasure to this is of course keeping your site updated - both the WordPress and its plugins. This is the main reason that all software is updated automatically as soon as a new version gets released. If you don't want to worry about updates, having an automated option constantly is the simplest yet most effective solution.
Backups of your site: Suppose you accidently remove your data or your site breaks, gets hacked etc. The immediate action here is to restore a backup, which means return the website to a previous point in time, just as it was. Now keep in mind this doesn't always solve issues when it comes to malware, but for the most part backups are an essential thing to have in your toolbox.
Look for hosting companies that will offer automated backups (as with updates). These may seem like simple tasks, but remember, when you spend your time doing things that aren't your specialty, you're losing revenue by not engaging in what you're doing best, i.e. your products!
4. Developer features
You may not care about this, but trusts us, your developer will. From their perspective, it's absolutely crucial to have some flexibility and possibly additional tools.
If you're running an ecommerce website and your business grows, you will need to make additions and modifications to your site.
In traditional systems, the main problem faced by website developers was that they weren't able to test their updated sites before going live with the changes made. Nowadays, with WordPress hosting, you can easily manipulate your website and make your website live instantly.
An example of such a developer tool would be a staging area, or the possibility to clone your website and test on it without risking to break the original one. Also, several features might be available, such as WP-CLI, Git version control, phpMyAdmin, server-side optimization, caching, etc.
If you are unsure what you need, you can consult your developer or if you're creating the site yourself, make sure at least the hosting has basic features like specially designed WordPress tools. This usually includes WordPress installation, management, cloning, and optimization.
5. Fast and Efficient Technical Support
Any person who has ever owned a business knows how easy is for things to go wrong. If you own a land store, you may forget the keys to your store, or an employee on shift may get sick or a natural disaster may strike etc.
Online stores come with their own set of potential problems. Aside from marketing, most commonly what you'll have to deal with are technical issues. Whether your site is down, or you can't achieve something by yourself, or you simply need a piece of information, communicating with hosting support will become habitual.
These days, of course, most company will provide support and more often than not is 24/7 (though not necessarily) but the main point is - will they be helpful?
Clearly, you can't know the answer unless you've interacted with them and by that time usually you have bought a product already. There is a way to test that though before a purchase by contacting them with an informational request. Are they fast? Have they answered your questions? If the answers to these questions are "No" chances are, it will get worse once you start having technical queries.
You can also Google the company - not all of them will have reviews and one or two unhappy customers doesn't always mean the service is bad. If the prevalent opinion, however, is negative, then likely there is something wrong with the quality of the service the respective company offers.
Hopefully, you've gathered some useful pointers from our article! Choose wisely and always make research before committing to any purchase. And if what you have doesn't satisfy your needs, remember, these days switching to a better-quality hosting provider is a matter of hours.