What to Consider When Choosing an E-Commerce Host

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August 2, 2012

Finding a reliable web host can be a very frustrating experience. Establishing how much bandwidth or disk space you need is not an easy task. When you add ecommerce website to the equation, everything gets even more complicated.

The following are some of the things you need to consider when looking for a suitable host for your e-commerce site.

Bandwidth and storage space

Bandwidth and storage space are the main requirements for any kind of web hosting. Since e-commerce sites come with shopping carts, they usually require more bandwidth and storage space compared to normal sites. However, this will depend on the design of the cart, as well as the level of usage. It is therefore advisable to start with a few selected products so as to lower your hosting costs. As your store becomes more popular, you can then upgrade your storage and bandwidth.

Shopping cart

The kind of shopping cart chosen is very important. Most web hosting providers offer different options. You need to select the right shopping cart from the onset since trying to change it later can be very lengthy process which might force you to close down your store temporarily. Therefore, don’t just accept the first cart offered by a web host. Try out their demos first. Make sure the program used is one that you can easily learn.

Get as much information as possible about your potential shopping cart software. Find out if it supports SSL, a security feature which protects your customers’ credit card details when transacting online. In addition, make sure the software supports your payment gateway and merchant account. If possible, find a host who offers all these services as a package. You also need to find out the product limit of the cart. Exceeding this limit will result in a poorly performing store.

Finally, you need to ensure that the shopping cart is able to do exactly what you need it to do. For instance, some carts by default don’t support the selling of downloadable items or services. If you need this functionality, you might have to look for 3rd party add-ons. Find out if the host can support such add-ons.

Support and reliability

The reliability of a web host is very important. Anytime your online store is down, customers cannot access and hence you cannot sell anything. Therefore, you need to find a host who will guarantee you 99% uptime. However, don’t just take the company at their word. Carry out some research and find out what other people are saying about the prospective host. Be cautious about hosts who free services or ridiculous bargains. In most cases, you will have to dig deeper into your pocket to get a reliable company which will guarantee good support and uptime.

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  • Peter Gogh

    The point about bandwidth is definitely true. If your web host is Volusion and your customers download more gigabytes than you have paid for, then you’ll be charged $7 per gigabyte over. This can vary for other web hosts. If this has happened to you, don’t immediately think about switching to a new host! Consider using a service like BandwidthDiet or Amazon S3 to save you some money. I highly recommend it. Cheers