What Key Features do I need from a Cheap eCommerce Hosting Plan?
As you may already know if you’ve done even a small amount of research on the subject, buying a good hosting plan for your new eCommerce website involves different criteria than it would if you were say, starting a blog or launching a corporate brochure style website for your business.
Rather than the kind of static, passive experiences that both of these latter two websites provide, your eCommerce store is going to be a fully functioning, dynamic and highly interactive experience, where your customers can click around, order the products they need and ultimately pay for them, all through the power of the web.
With that in mind, even a cheap eCommerce hosting plan needs to provide certain things so that:
- Your website performs and functions at its optimum best
- Your customers enjoy an easy, hassle free and enjoyable shopping experience
- Your customers’ payment details and other personal data is kept safe and secure.
Sure, it’s all well and good just telling you that, but what key features do you actually need from your eCommerce hosting? Here’s just a few of the essentials.
Ample bandwidth and disk space
In order to generate the kind of revenue you need for your new online business to thrive, it’s vital that your website is available and working at its best 24 hours a day, seven day a week, 365 days per year. Even the briefest periods of downtime could clash with the exact same period that a potential new customer wanted to come by and buy whatever it is you’re selling.
If they can’t do that, the most persistent and loyal of your customers might refresh the page a few times just to make sure it’s definitely down, but almost everybody else will simply hit the back button on their browser and go elsewhere.
Insufficient bandwidth is a major cause of downtime and other performance-related issues, so if you’re going to be certain that your site is always there when your customers need it, it’s important that you get a package with as big a bandwidth allocation as you possibly can, preferably unlimited.
Hosting comparison sites like Cheap Web Hosting Now often provide a full breakdown of the kind of bandwidth resources offered by leading hosting companies so that you can quickly find the best deals at a glance.
Shopping cart integration
Whilst you’re busy comparing the different cheap hosting options available for your new online store, pay attention the kind of shopping carts they support. These are the tools that will transform your basic, bare-bones website into a powerful eCommerce platform, giving you a complete store front, shopping cart and checkout services.
Leading options such as ZenCart and OsCommerce come as standard with most top hosting providers, as does WordPress (with its free eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce) and the online store CMS Magento.
SSL certificate and dedicated IP address
Two features that are often absolutely vital in providing your customers with the kind of protection and security that helps them to trust your business. Without such tools, your customers’ payment information and other personal details could be at risk, so if there’s any entry on this list that’s more important than any of the others, it’s this one.
In some cases, you’ll find that premium priced shared hosting packages do include free SSL and dedicated IPs, though often times you may have to purchase these separately.
Providing top level customer support via your website is another key component of successful eCommerce. Though you might well have your own phone system set up, and possibly even online website chat, some customers are going to prefer to contact you via email, and when they do, they’ll expect to see professional email addresses based at your domain name rather than a free email service. Think about it this way, as a customer yourself, would you feel more like you were dealing with a professional company if their email address was email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?