E-Commerce Web Hosting Guide: Is It Time for an Online Store?
Jun 23, 2020
Different kinds of websites are meant for different purposes. For instance, entertainment websites are for entertaining content, while portfolio websites are for showing off your skills and your best work. Then, we also have business websites for representing your company and believe us when we say that people expect you to have one. The question here is: Is your business website enough or is it time for an e-commerce website? And if you expand your website to e-commerce, can your web hosting handle it?
Difference Between Business and E-Commerce Websites
Before you try and figure out if you need an online store, you need to understand the difference between a business website and an e-commerce website first. Business and e-commerce are terms that some people use interchangeably, but keep in mind that they are not the same. As mentioned previously, the purpose of a business website is to represent a company and bear its branding. It is the company's first point of contact with their target market because let's face it, people are going to search the internet for information about you before they trust your products and services.
So what is an e-commerce website? An e-commerce website allows a company to sell products and consumers to buy said products through an online transaction. Unlike your regular business website, an e-commerce website does not focus on providing information to users. You can consider e-commerce as a subset of your business website.
How Can You Tell If You Need an Online Store?
Simply put, if you sell products instead of services, an e-commerce website can help boost your business. So if you already have an existing business website, you have the option to expand and give your users the option to shop through your website. However, keep in mind that an e-commerce site has different requirements from a regular business website. For instance, you will need a web hosting service provider that has enough capacity and security to handle your online store.
Just Basic E-Commerce and Web Hosting Stuff
Okay, e-commerce web hosting is similar to general web hosting in essence. However, an e-commerce website will be handling heavier data and more sensitive information-- so you will need more space, better capacity and additional security features from your web host.
Needless to say, finding the right web hosting service provider is essential to business owners planning to open an online store. You may not know this yet (well, if you read our other blog posts-- then you would), but the quality of your web host will significantly affect customer satisfaction and website performance. You need to make sure that your web host can provide optimal uptime, fast loading speed, security, and more.
What is E-Commerce Web Hosting?
As mentioned previously, e-commerce hosting is similar to regular hosting-- but with extra features. This type of hosting is specially made for websites that sell products online. Online shops have features that regular sites do not, like shopping cart and payment processing features. On top of that, an online shop handles personal information from users. Sensitive information that e-commerce sites work with includes names, addresses and credit card details.
From those features and functions alone, you will already need a lot of things like SSL certificates, payment processing, shopping cart software, etc. Finding the right web hosting provider is important in the process of creating an online shop or expanding your business site because not all web hosting plans are created equal. You want to work with a web host that can provide you with solutions and functionalities that will help your online business survive.
How Does It Work?
E-commerce web hosting is like its regular counterpart, but with extra steps, so some things remain the same. For example, you need to register a domain name before your online shop goes live, but unlike with regular business websites, your e-commerce site also needs to set up payment processing. So, you should consider web hosts that offer these solutions and functionalities.
Web Hosting Options for Creating an Ecommerce Website
Much like how there are different types of normal web hosting, you also have options when it comes to e-commerce hosting: Hosted and Self-Hosted Platforms.
Hosted E-Commerce Platforms
Hosted e-commerce platforms offer e-commerce features and functionalities on top of hosting your website. Many hosted platforms are available out there but Shopify and BigCommerce are the most popular options for both new online shop owners and seasoned e-commerce business owners.
This e-commerce platform offers an extremely user-friendly interface and plenty of apps that sellers and buyers can enjoy. Shopify is also flexible, so online shop owners can customise a wide range of features on this platform.
Aside from e-commerce services, Shopify also offers web hosting solutions, which means that you can set up your online shop as you would with any other platform. On top of that, Shopify already offers e-commerce-related features like the SSL certificate, payment process and shopping cart features-- which makes things easier for you.
BigCommerce is another popular choice for e-commerce web hosting. This e-commerce platform offers multi-layered security, DDOS protection and automated fraud detection. As mentioned previously, security is one of the most important features that your web host should have since your website will be handling sensitive information. BigCommerce also offers a 99.9% uptime and claims that they have the fastest loading speed available out there.
Self-hosted platforms allow you to choose your own web host. It is similar to how you can use WordPress CMS but proceed with a web host other than their offers in WordPress. In this case, you need to look for two sets of providers: an e-commerce platform and a web hosting service provider.
Tips for Choosing E-Commerce Web Hosting
Regardless if you proceed with a hosted or self-hosted platform, you need to keep some factors in mind when choosing your service provider. Here are some tips for choosing your e-commerce hosting provider:
Look for the right e-commerce web hosting plan.
Don't settle for a provider because "they said they're the best", you need to consider whether their plans are suitable for your needs. For instance, if you are running a small business, you don't need anything extreme right off the bat. Loof for a provider that offers plans suitable to your needs. But of course, check what your options are with the same web host if you plan on expanding in the future.
Check if you should go for VPS or Cloud hosting.
If you are planning to proceed with a self-hosted platform, do your research about VPS and cloud hosting. These two types of web hosting are the most common options for e-commerce. They are pretty similar, but of course, one may be more right for you than the other.
Ensure that the web host can provide fast loading speed.
You can lose LOTS of potential customers by just having a slow-loading website. Imagine doing everything right on your design and content but still lose customers because your website won't load right away. People are impatient, they would rather leave your site and find another online shop instead of waiting for your page to load.
Make sure that your online shop is user-friendly.
Make sure that your e-commerce site is user-friendly and easy to navigate. You want to have everything handed to your customer. Their transition from searching for a product, adding to cart and checking out should be smooth and seamless.
Make sure that your online shop is secured.
This fact cannot be stressed enough, people will be providing their information to you and they trust that you will take care of it. SO make sure that your website is secured by choosing a web hosting service provider that offers extensive security. This is not optional for an e-commerce website.
How to Setup Your E-Commerce Hosting
Setting up your e-commerce hosting is similar to regular web hosting. Here the first few steps to help you get started.
Choose your web host.
If you decide to proceed with a self-hosted platform, then make sure that you choose a general web hosting provider that has all the features and functionalities that you need for an online shop. If you want to go with a hosted e-commerce platform, then they will take care of your hosting.
Choose your plan.
Determine your goals and make sure to consider the size of your business when you choose a plan. Your web hosting plan should include the features you want. You don't need to go with an expensive plan right away especially if you're starting out as a small business. However, if you are planning for a bigger business then you will want to go for the plans with a broader array of features.
Register your domain name.
Some web hosts offer limited options for domain names, sometimes you even have to pay extra for a URL if it's in-demand. There are times when you have to register your domain name from a different service provider from your web host. Domain name registration is easier and cheaper with most hosted e-commerce platforms.
Make sure to import your store data.
If you are converting your existing regular business website to an e-commerce site or you want to expand your small online store into a bigger e-commerce website, then you need to import your customer and product data into your new website.
Simply put, if you are selling a variety of products then you need an online store. An e-commerce website is going to make many lives easier-- including yours. Your online store eliminates the need for your potential customers to awkwardly send you a direct message to inquire about a product. Your e-commerce site also attracts people who are determined to purchase your product. But of course, before you reap all these benefits, you need to sow a good foundation first and that starts with the right e-commerce web hosting. Speaking of web hosting, check out our web hosting offers.