With the advent of Shopify and other online marketplaces the E-com revolution is in full swing. Hundreds of manufacturers and other distributors have set up their own shops.
However the biggest new contender in this marketplace are individuals looking to setup their own shops.
Before the optimized images, Facebook ads and product sourcing comes actually building and maintaining a functioning shop is your top priority.
In today’s post we are going to cover what you need to look for in an e-commerce host and at the end we will recommend two hosts who we believe through our ten years of experience provide the best value for money.
Let’s get into it.
How We Pick
- 0.1 How We Pick
- 0.2 Types of E-commerce Hosting
- 0.3 Our Criteria to Find the Top Host
- 1 Australian Web Hosting For E-commerce Review 2017
Our team has worked in web development for the last ten years. Read more about it on our bio page. With our combined experience we have built and actively maintain over 900 sites with almost 50 being e-commerce shops.
That has given us a treasure trove of first hand real experience on what works and doesn’t. Monitoring uptime, security and dealing with support has definitely given us some strong preferences for what works and what doesn’t.
How Does E-commerce Hosting Differ From Regular Hosting
Well it doesn’t.
All web hosting works by utilizing computer resources (servers) host side and then basically selling usage of those resources to users. The more more resources on better computers you buy the more powerful your hosting will be.
Each host is given a unique IP address which may or may not be shared with other websites. Essential the more money you pay the more exclusive your IP will be.
Think of it as an apartment building. If your rent is cheap there is a good chance that you’llbe sharing your space with a lot of people. The more rent you pay the bigger place you will get until eventually you have your own address or IP.
The truth of the matter is support is a HUGE issue when it comes to E-commerce. You’re running an online business and having website issues can cost you a lot of money, especially while running paid advertising campaigns.
Types of E-commerce Hosting
These are a few of the options. It’s important to know that our recommended hosts offer seamless transitions on their service between any of the below forms of hosting. If you can’t pick just go with the basic bread and butter which is shared hosting.
This is the most common form of hosting for E-commerce. In shared hosting you basically utilize an IP with lots of other websites. The result is extremely cost effective web hosting.
Great for new websites that don’t get much more traffic or want to keep costs low.
Dedicated hosting is just that, your own dedicated computer with its very own IP. This means you are actually renting out a physical piece of hardware somewhere in a datacenter. This is by far the priciest method of hosting but extremely fast.
Great for websites with tons of traffic or businesses that want extremely reliable hosting.
VPS Virtual Private Server
A VPS works by creating a droplet on a cloud computer. It functions like dedicated hosting but the servers are not stored anywhere. It’s a mix between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. The only downside is that it’s harder to setup.
Great for sites who want faster dedicated service that isn’t biased towards specific geographic areas. Also good for running resource intensive web tools or databases.
Cloudflare or Content Distribution Networks
Cloudflare is a free option to add to most WordPress websites. What happens is your regular IP on any hosting gets redirected to an IP in the cloud that is widely used. Content is sent from multiple locations on the cloud so it actually reaches visitors’ computers faster.
Great for sites worried about speed and security. Also a good choice if sending thousands of emails from your @domainname address.
Our Criteria to Find the Top Host
Here are some of the criteria we used to find the best e-commerce hosts. Take a look..
- SSL or Secure Socket Layer
SSL – Secure Socket Layer Protection
Ever see that green “Secure” writing beside the URL?
You can see it on this site. What it means is that the website utilizes encryption. Data from the server and the visitors computer is encrypted in a tunnel that only the two can access. It protects information and more importantly is required for taking online payments which is essential.
SSL is an absolute MUST, with some payment processors denying payments on non secure websites. In order to get it setup you’ll need a certificate issued from your host.
Here’s the problem.
A lot of greedy hosts like… GoDaddy (hope you’re reading this) will charge you an arm and a leg. Certificates are free online but still already filthy rich hosting companies will upsell SSL for $59.99.
Don’t fall for this.
All the hosts we usually use offer entirely free SSL. Not to worry.
Uptime and Downtime
This is the amount of time your website is up and running. The higher your uptime the better your hosting. Most hosts operate on Linux based computers which are much more reliable than Windows based hosting.
Downtime refers to the amount of time a website is down or unable to be accessed by visitors. Avoid servers with high downtimes like the plague.
We tested over thirty servers and shared some of our results in our hosting guide. Basically anything below 99% is not worth getting.
Just like a regular physical store you need to protect your customers and more importantly their financial data. Having your customers info stolen by hackers is a bad place to start when it comes to building an online shop.
Hackers, Ransomeware and Stolen Info
When it comes to protecting your site there are some extremely simple options that can make your website very unlikely to get hacked. However, the most important thing you can do is invest in quality hosting as they actively monitor for hackers and security issues.
It’s important to remember that it’s in their interest too to protect their servers. A compromised sever means not only one site or customer being affected but literally hundreds and that’s bad for the bottom line.
Don’t skip out on this. This is one of the most critical mistakes that a lot of new websites can make. Just like photos you’ll need to regularly backup your web data. When it comes to this, you have two choices. First, you do it yourself and set reminders to periodically backup your web data. Second, you use a host that does it automatically for you which can seriously put your mind at ease.
Here are some other tips:
- Use wordfence plugin for WordPress
- Pick an alphanumeric password
- Avoid excessive plugins
- Update your CMS
- Change the login URL
- Use a CDN
Speed is an essential issue for one main reason, e-commerce websites are media heavy. What I mean is all those images and videos that you have on your product listing require a lot more server power than your average business website that gets only a few visits a week.
People expect websites to load in one two seconds.
We can thank Facebook and Google for that with their insanely powerful servers. In this next little bit I’ll cover how to find the speediest server for your business.
Datacenters are where your web server is physically based. Since we aren’t teleporting information from here to there your data will need to transverse optics cables. Luckily they are very fast.
Generally speaking the closer the datacenter the faster the visitor will load your website. That being said the datacenters throughout Australia are just as fast as the centers in Singapore, the only difference is they lack the reliability, security, free services and great support that some of their foreign counterparts offer.
If you’re a patriotic Aussie and thinking I only want an Australian host then go ahead but we’ve been doing this for a long time and we can definitely say you’ll be getting ripped off especially on up-sells.
Singapore has some of the closest and best maintained datacenters. They use modern Linux based computers that greatly increase speeds. With our Singapore based servers we were getting under 600Ms times from Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
That covers everything you’ll need to know about finding a great e-com host.
Here are our top picks.
Australian Web Hosting For E-commerce Review 2017
1. Siteground – Best Overall Hosting for Price/Speed/Uptime & Unbeatable Support ($3.95/month)
Average Uptime: 99.95%
Average Load Time: 475Ms
Siteground just knocks it out of the ballpark every time. It’s also our top pick for our main review page and for all the right reasons. The biggest difference in Siteground is a company that is obsessed with improving.
While most hosting companies are relics from the 1900s that basically started off as domain registers and quickly realized they could make exorbitant amounts of money by selling hosting too. The result is garbage service and companies that don’t care about you at all, Siteground changes that.
Also did I mention big discounts on all plans.
We look forward to talking to Siteground support. They are always pleasant and extremely helpful. With 24/7 support they are there anytime you need.
Siteground has extremely fast hosting even on their most basic packages. You can easily move up or down their different services without fees.
While other companies will charge you Siteground offers simple one click installs for hosting.
Some other features:
- Free Backups
- Free SSL
- Hack protection
- DDOs protection at the DNS level
- Easy site migration and transfer
- Free Domain
- Free Cloudflare
- A2 Hosting
2. A2 Hosting – Great Speed and Loading Times ($3.92/month)
Average Uptime: 99.1%
Average Load Time: 601Ms
These guys come in a close second and they could just as easily be number one and they are in our small business review. They offer everything that site ground does
A two hosting offers some really good support features too. Their stuff is extremely knowledgeable and quick to answer any technical questions that you might have. Also 24/7 support is available for any users and flexible transitions from one plan to the other without any additional fees.
Like we mentioned earlier a lot of other hosting companies like Go Daddy try to make you pay a lot more for SSL services. However with a A2 hosting SSL is included for free and it’s extremely easy to install. A2 also offers free backups, free site migrations and a host of other really good features for little to nothing.
Recap of Everything We’ve Learned
So let’s recap everything we’ve learned in this post. The first one is speed, as a website that relies on lots of media, graphics and videos you’ll need extremely fast hosting that allows your users to access and digest your media from any location.
The second issue that is of huge importance is SSL and transactional security when making purchases on your e-commerce site. Most financial institutions require websites to have extremely secure servers that allow people to transfer their financial information without worry. If you want to be competitive in the modern e-commerce world you’ll need a website that it adheres to these standards and regulations.
At this point if you’re confused about what hosting provider to choose or what plan let me just suggest one thing. Start with shared hosting. Shared hosting plans allow you to scale up as your business with increases in traffic and online sales. There is no need to jump into a higher tier plan and spend more money when you can use that money where it’s better served – on marketing. Also another great benefit of shared plans is that they are a lot cheaper than other plans.
Picking the right host for your E-commerce brand is something that you shouldn’t take lightly. You’ll want to make sure uptime and speed are both top notch especially with more visitors using VPNs to access web data.
Well that’s it I hope all the information that you read here was very useful. If you need anymore please check out our guide page for more helpful tips tricks and walk-throughs for web hosting.