What Impact Does Hosting Have On Your Online Store?
Those who aren’t overly familiar with how web hosting works might well think that it doesn’t really matter. After all, how can it really vary? Either your website is there, or it isn’t.
But of course it isn’t anywhere close to being that simple, and the hosting solution you use affects your website in various ways, big and small.
What significance does this have in the world of ecommerce where traffic is high, competition is fierce, and vast profits are on the line? Unsurprisingly, a great deal. Let’s take a look at the factors that can really affect your business.
Imagine that you need to keep display of precious jewels safe, so you hire a cheap security guard. They’re competent enough, being intimidating and thorough, but then you discover that they’re narcoleptic and keep falling asleep on the job. What’s your reaction?
Do you think, well, it’s not as though they’re fending off crooks every minute of every day, so it doesn’t really matter if they’re occasionally unconscious at their post?
Or do you conclude that you must replace them, because even if no one has tried to steal anything while they’ve been asleep, an attempt could be made at any time?
Plenty of web hosts are like that guard. Sure, they’ll give you a good hosting deal, and they’ll keep your website up most of the time, but even with the best of intentions they won’t be in a position to guarantee that it’ll be up when you need it the most.
And if users can’t trust your website to be operational, they won’t trust your company in general.
A user clicks a link to (or on) your website, and then sits (or stands) there impatiently. How long will they wait for it to load before they give up entirely?
Probably not very long. After all, the internet has seemingly-unlimited alternatives to explore, so if your chosen link isn’t responding, you can simply go somewhere else.
And no matter how well-optimized your pages are, or how efficiently you’ve compressed the images, the response times of your website will all come down to the hosting.
A sluggish web hosting service can be sufficient for some websites. If you’re running a personal blog or hobby website with no meaningful monetization or desire for growth, then there’s no good reason to invest in high-quality hosting.
But if you want to stand any chance of succeeding in the lightning-quick world of online retail, being slow simply isn’t an option.
Let’s say you’ve checked and determined that a hosting solution can serve up some speedy response times. That’s good, yes… but can it do so at scale?
Think about a bank that’s low on funds. If an account holder requests to withdraw some money, the bank can easily accommodate that request, but what about when a thousand account holders do so at the same time and the sum is greater than the bank’s current balance?
Since the bank can’t accommodate all the requests, it has to turn some of the account holders away, leaving them furious and likely to consider moving to other banks.
Many low-cost hosting solutions have inferior bandwidth as a result of having limited technical resources or spreading them thinly across far too many websites. Using such a solution might be perfectly adequate on days with low traffic and minimal demand across the hosting platform, but if general activity picks up enough, you might well find your site slowing to a crawl.
When someone purchases something from your store, they are trusting you to keep their personal and financial information safe from the prying eyes of those who would exploit it, and any failure to do so risks both legal trouble and the shattering of your company’s image.
Now, you may take the protection of your customers’ data very seriously, but you can’t necessarily trust web hosts to do the same. Operating services via the cloud from remote locations is certainly the trend for good reason, but there is something to be said for being able to deal with people in person.
That’s not to say that web hosts are likely to actively leak that kind of data though; they simply might not have invested the resources required to make their platforms adequately secure.
The variability in quality is one of the big reasons why buying and selling ecommerce businesses through online marketplaces has become so prevalent in recent years; people want to know they’re dealing with firmly-established platforms.
When looking at hosting solutions, be sure to do your research on things including, but not limited to, the platforms they use, how frequently they update them, how they tackle cyber attacks, and what they are ultimately willing to guarantee about their security practices.
If you already have a web host, make sure you know what you can expect from them, and consider moving if you’re not confident that you can trust them with sensitive information.
Tying into the factors we’ve looked at thus far, but holding both technical and interpersonal significance, the level of support you receive from a web host is very important.
Realistically, no matter how good your hosting is, you will encounter issues at some point. A power plant will fail, or a cable will snap, and you’ll lose service temporarily. At that stage, you’ll need to reach out to your web host for answers, and how they support you will have a knock-on effect when it comes to your business.
If they’re honest, helpful and realistic, you can get on with things and mitigate the effects of the unavoidable issue; but if they’re deceitful, indifferent and prone to providing inaccurate estimates, you’ll have to invest a great deal of time and effort in figuring out what’s going on.
And once you’ve checked all the other factors, be sure to get an idea of the quality of their customer service, because, sooner or later, you’ll need to deal with it.
Regardless of whether you have an online store, plan to create one, or think that you might want to just buy an existing business (an increasingly-common option through trusted online marketplaces), you simply must prioritize the hosting quality very highly.
In summary, if you don’t give choose your hosting very carefully, you will invariably find that all your hard work on your store ends up thoroughly undermined by technical problems, underwhelming user experiences, and drawn-out service disagreements.
Can you really afford to let that happen?