Of all the important steps that need to be taken in order to successfully run a small business, it may be the backend operations that are the most confounding. That’s because all web hosting isn’t the same. Depending on the specific kind of website and business you are developing, you’ll have certain requirements that need to be met by your hosting provider in order to achieve the performance levels you need to be successful and to meet any regulatory rules that might exist in your industry.
There are some features that are a must have if you’re looking to launch an e-commerce based business. By following some simple guidelines during your search, you can quickly narrow down the list of viable hosting solution candidates. Dedicated hosting with managed services or managed cloud hosting can cover most of your needs, but let’s explore why they make the most sense for your e-commerce business.
There are key attributes to look for in a hosting environment that are ideal for an e-commerce website. The appropriate level of bandwidth, processing power, security measures, and regulatory compliance will all be required in order to protect your business and provide an excellent customer experience. By establishing your e-commerce business on the appropriate hosting solution from the beginning you can set yourself up for success and avoid the complications of needing to perform a migration in the future when your needs become more robust as your business expands.
The hosting solution you end up choosing will have a significant influence on how well your e-commerce business performs. Many customer behaviors are tied to the technical aspects of a site like load time, so it’s important to recognize that it’s not just the content of your site that leads to conversions. Though the focus here is digital minded, the customer experience still rules all even if it isn’t the traditional brick and mortar storefront.
Here are the aspects of an ideal hosting solution that would best suit your needs as the owner of an e-commerce business.
Calculating how much bandwidth your site needs to run successfully and up to standards is probably one of the most difficult parts of deciding what kind of hosting solution would make the most sense for your business. If you’re running an e-commerce operation, it’s hard to have too much bandwidth, really, and here’s why.
Every time a visitor comes to your site they need to download information from the server. It could be text, it could be video. Both use up bandwidth and they differ in how much they use. Video uses more, clearly. With respect to e-commerce, there are many moving parts. Not only will the content need to be delivered, but the user’s browser will also need to load the content management system’s activity. Popular content management systems like WordPress or Magento are often more taxing when it comes to page loading than many people realize because plugins and pre-made code require relatively significant resource usage to populate properly. E-commerce sites are generally “heavy” for lack of a better word. Between images, site functionality, and multi-step navigation, bandwidth limits can be quickly reached if you have high traffic volumes.
This is where the resources provided by the server you choose begin to come into play. When your site is hosted on a dedicated server, you’re not sharing your resources with other companies or sites. So, the CPU is yours to leverage. In a shared environment, each site is regulated regarding how much processing power can be accessed at any given moment. Factor in higher amounts of RAM, larger hard drives to save all of your site assets including your large product database, and you can see why a dedicated server makes sense.
You don’t have to go the dedicated route, though, as managed cloud servers provide many of the same benefits while giving you the flexibility of a cloud based solution. Some of the benefits of going with managed cloud hosting include a guarantee of resources reserved when provisioning the server and underlying encryption which is beneficial for security purposes and remaining compliant with certain regulatory bodies. Additionally, cloud hosting is flexible and scalable so your resource pool can grow along with your business.
Having all of these resources at your disposal will also improve the performance of the site. This goes back to bandwidth and the customer experience. Investing in hardware that will create a great customer experience is critical to your success. Customer behavior shows that the average person is quite unforgiving when it comes to dealing with slow sites and long page load times.
Here are some statistics put together by Kissmetrics that are sure to give you pause. High bounce rates have a direct correlation with long page load times. 47% of customers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. 40% will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Finally, each second of page loading delay creates a 7% decrease in conversions. That means if your site is making $100,000 a day, just a one second delay could add up to $2.5 million in lost sales in a year.
Customer satisfaction and security are paramount to your business’ success. While security is certainly important to both you and your customers, it could also be required of you. This brings us to the topic of PCI compliance.
Compliance hosting is important when talking about e-commerce. PCI compliance in particular should be at the forefront of any business owner’s mind when launching a business that will accept credit card payments. There are many conditions your business must satisfy in order to be compliant with PCI standards. The focus of PCI standards is to ensure that an e-commerce operation is properly handling sensitive credit card data. In order to remain compliant, a site must meet a myriad of security requirements. Anti-virus scans, firewalls, SSL certificates, encryption, and rigorous authentication are all part of remaining compliant.
It’s preferable to find a host that specializes in PCI compliant hosting so you know that the infrastructure is already there to meet all of these requirements. This, along with managed hosting, make running an e-commerce operation much easier for you and your team.
When looking for a hosting solution, your business will benefit from opting for managed services. What this means is you don’t need to allocate team resources towards watching the server environment all day. By leaning on experts, you can reduce the need for dedicating IT resources to doing the most basic of tasks on the server. Managed services give you peace of mind. You know that your server is being watched around the clock to guarantee uptime.
Some of the benefits of opting for managed services when establishing a hosting solution include security analysis, patching and updates, a 100% uptime service level agreement, automatic daily backups, VPN access, and intrusion detection. In addition, consider adding managed load balancing so that your site is always up. If one site goes down, it automatically fails over to another site. We provide six international redundant locations for this purpose. Having many of the basics being handled for you by a team of experts allows for some breathing room when it comes to you and your team’s daily work. This is invaluable. It leaves you and your team to focus on what you specialize in, which is providing your customers with the goods and services you’re selling.
Among the major concerns for small businesses is the cost of having their website hosted. Choosing Cloud Hosting is generally a more cost-effective choice than a dedicated server, and they share almost all the same benefits. However, in some cases, it is better to go with a dedicated solution. Cloud also provides increased scalability and flexibility. Combined with no-contract billing rates, Cloud is a compelling solution for the small businesses. It is best to contact a few hosting companies and try to get the best solution that fits your budget and is in line with your vision and growth.
The hosting solution that you ultimately decide to go with will have a real impact on your business. You need to partner with a hosting company that has years of experience hosting large e-commerce websites. At Atlantic.Net we specialize in providing high performance hosting solutions that meet the compliance standards you need to safely operate your e-commerce site. Contact us today. Our team of experts can work with you to find the ideal hosting solution that best meets your needs.