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5 Tips to Choose an E-commerce Hosting Package for Business

5 Tips to Choose an E-commerce Hosting Package for Business post image

It is not difficult to find a hosting package these days as they are very heavily advertised on the Internet. It is a little harder to sift through them to find the good and the bad ones, but online reputations have a habit of sticking. You can blame this on the happy online nerd community who will not let slights go. And, why should people let slights go? One person sat at a desk has no power in the real world, but is able to set up and stoke the fires of an online hate campaign for months at a time. They are only limited by how much free time they have to dedicate to smearing the company that treated them badly.

Here are five tips to help you choose your eCommerce host. Choosing an eCommerce host is not as difficult as choosing a host for a video library or social media network. The only thing you need to think about is the fact that you need more bandwidth than usual websites because you are expecting a lot of visitors. You may also need less hosting space than regular websites unless you have hundreds of products to upload.

1 – Look for hosting reviews

This means searching out any references to the hosting company you are looking to buy from. There are going to be a lot of positive reviews for the hosting service. This is because the company has written the reviews themselves or has had other people write them. What you need to do is look for negative reviews. Once you have found a few you need to look for patterns or commonalities.

Do they all complain about the same thing or different things? Do they mention how they like the company but they have a problem? The negative reviews are often the most honest. You can tell how bad the service is by how angry the writer is. Sometimes, if a company is good but lets the user down, they complain but you can tell they don’t like doing it. However, when a company really angers a person then they will relish telling everyone about it at every opportunity.

2 – What is their downtime like?

Do they have a terrible downtime score? Are their downtime scores a little too good to be true? If they advertise or promise a certain amount of “up-time” in their agreement and fail to deliver, then you can ask for your money back. There are tools that will check the downtime of a server for a full year.

If your website is down for more than 2% of the year then the search engines will start to take exception to it and start ranking your website down on the search engine results pages. Check the reviews to see if they mention anything negative about downtime.

3 – Can you upgrade your service at a later date?

A very cute trick is to attract and catch you with a very low starting rate for a basic hosting package. The trick is that when it comes to time to upgrade they charge you a fortune to upgrade your bandwidth, tools or hosting space. Some services are so cheap that they max out their capacity and are unable to offer you upgrades until their other customers leave.

You need to research how you can upgrade, how much they charge, and any terms and conditions they have. For example, do they ask that you lock yourself into their hosting service for a year if you want to upgrade? This is going to make it impossible to switch hosting services if the host starts to cause you problems.

4 – Decide how much hosting space you need in advance

Once you have created your website you will be able to see how much memory it takes up. You do not need much more than that amount for hosting space unless you are going to have automatic backups placed on your server too.

You need to decide this in advance because hosting services offer great deals where they charge you a few dollars more for lost more GB of hosting space. But, if you do not need the hosting space then don’t waste your money. Just upgrade later if you need more space.

5 – What is their security like?

Security on a hosting service is a very big deal. The good hackers in this world are able to break into a server, which means they have backdoor access to your website. If your host service is playing fast and loose with security then your website may be inadvertently hacked. On the one hand you will not be able to do a darn thing about it, and on the other hand you may have been hacked years ago and still have no idea.

There is a legal side to it too. If you are completing sales over the Internet then you have a due diligence duty to make sure that security is above and beyond the required standard. This is because if you use an insecure host then you are still responsible for stolen money from your customer’s bank and credit cards.

About the author: My name is Sonia J. and I work with students at Admission-service.com

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • MoBowen

    Great article and your third point about upgrade charges is truly something readers need to be aware of.

    I helped a friend of mine start an e-commerce site selling shoes. After I began uploading the images, I realized she was going to need more space. The package she initially ordered simply wouldn’t be enough to house the rest of the images.

    The hosting service was going to charge her (hold on to your hats…) $30 to upgrade to the next package. It was actually cheaper for her to leave that service and sign on with another one – which she did.

    Never sign on with a web hosting service that charges you an extra premium to upgrade your account. It really doesn’t take much effort for the host admin to click a few keys and add more space to your account. Everything on their end is fully automated. It’s not a $30 task by a long shot.

    Also, never lock yourself in to a long-term contract with an e-commerce host you’ve never been. I’d rather pay a higher month-to-month fee, than lose money because I need to leave a service. Good reviews today doesn’t guarantee great service forever.

    • oivas

      Mo Bowen,

      Good point. I did hear stories about hosting service providers conning people on upgrades, but I used to just brush it aside. From your testimony and Sonia’s article, it does seem to be something I should check out and be wary of. Thanks!

  • Phyllis Moore

    You have made some great points in your overview. I agree especially about the necessity of seeking out negative reviews. Many hosting companies offer extremely lucrative affiliate programs, and this is one of the reasons you will find so many glowing reviews, especially if you Google the host company name + reviews. Super affiliates go out of their way to rank well in the SERPs for such terms.

    I agree, it’s the negative reviews that will ring true and give a more accurate picture of what to expect especially in regard to downtime and technical support which are crucial. Likewise security issues. If people find that their hosting company is not up-to-date on security measures, that’s the kind of news that will spread.

    Speaking of, Twitter is also a great place to look to see how a company fares with its customers. Search for the company’s Twitter name and see if customers are Tweeting them in an attempt to get service or if they are Tweeting about downtime.

    Customer service and technical support are the make or break factor for me. I’ve had the extremes. I once had a hosting company that used support tickets as the only option for contact, and their support team was outsourced overseas. On the other hand, I’ve had hosting companies with 24/7 tech support phone service that was not outsourced. It’s worth the extra money in my view. When you have an issue that needs resolving, there’s nothing better than being able to discuss it in real time with someone who is a native speaker of your language.

    As for upgrade fees, yes, that’s something to watch out for. But also be aware of companies that charge downgrade fees or who will charge you if you migrate your site(s) from one type of server to another. That also seems unfair and it may be cheaper to just go elsewhere.

  • Sharon

    I really enjoyed this post! You provided great tips for the ‘average’ person to keep in mind when searching for hosting services. Oftentimes, people forget to look at the bigger picture for their start-up. When they begin building their business, it is often just them with a small ‘flow’ of things. However, when shopping for hosting – it is important to think ahead. This is why I really agree with point #4!
    Never sell your dreams short and plan ahead!

  • oivas

    Lovely post! Extremely useful for people like me who need to host a website. I must admit that I was not aware that any fraudulent transaction happening on my site will render me liable too. Good that I have this insight now itself.

    Well presented article!

  • Great tips pointed out in this article!

    I do agree that if you are going to be selling products online and setting up your own ecommerce website, then it is important that your hosting does what you need it to and is reliable.

    Personally for all my sites I use HostGator whether they are ecommerce or not. The reason for this is that they are a solid company that has been around for a long time and have a good reputation in the online community.

    Before when I started out online I used mom and pop hosting and it turned out that it was very unreliable so I ended up just paying the price for good quality hosting.

    If you are going to get hosting for your ecommerce site, it is important to get good hosting up front even if it may cost you a little more than others.

    • Phyllis Moore

      @thevirtualtraveler, I agree, it is well worth the extra money to get quality hosting with a company with a solid and proven track record, such as HostGator.

      The downtime and other technical problems you may otherwise experience with a hosting company that is not up to such high standards can be costly in the long run, especially with an eCommerce site. A site that loads slowly, for instance could cause potential customers to click away rather than wait for the site to load. Also, if a customer is attempting to make a purchase, and the site suddenly does not load properly, they may be unable to complete the purchase or may wind up reloading the page and getting charged a second time. This leads to unnecessary customer service issues which then must be resolved.

      Also with eCommerce there are security issues to keep in mind, and so it’s important to have a hosting company that is up-to-date on security measures.

  • Really great tips and advice. Many people looking for webhosting will benefit from this. I am a big fan of reading reviews and comparing many of the positives and negatives. Getting a good mix of reviews is a great way to choose the right hosting provider, not just placing all of your eggs in one basket.

  • Danna Brown

    These are some great pointers I am so glad I found this website before I started my e-commerce business. I really like the point about researching about upgrade policies. I never considered looking into upgrade policies before choosing an online hosting company.