E-commerce Hosting

By Robert Rand

Why online stores need a reliable hosting partner

E-commerce stores are completely reliant on their web hosting environments in order to perform consistently well for their shoppers. Anything that gets in the way of those shoppers will ultimately hurt e-commerce revenue. It’s important to remember that e-commerce websites are complex, and hosting them successfully requires skill and dedication… even if great web hosts make it look easy. Here are some of the most common issues that merchants experience with web hosting services that aren’t engineered for mission-critical online stores:

Support

The Challenge: When an e-commerce merchant is experiencing a hosting issue that’s hurting their revenue, they need immediate support.

The Solution: You’ll want a web host that’s proactively monitoring your account 24/7. Whether there’s a DDoS attack, or a resource usage issue, you want to address the situation quickly and effectively. In regards to reactive support, you want a team of true e-commerce hosting experts that you can reach in seconds to address issues and clear roadblocks. 

Case Study: Collin Street Bakery:

https://jetrails.com/case-study/collin-street-bakery/ 

In order to get the support that they needed, https://collinstreet.com/ found that they needed to pick a better e-commerce web host. After moving, Evan Rosay, the IT Director at Collin Street Bakery reported: “Better response times, more competent resources, and the receipt of root cause analysis documentation when there are hiccups.”. In addition, Evan shared that their new host is “a partner that goes above and beyond, making recommendations of how to improve and even helping with the selection of vendors and add-ons.”.

In e-commerce, a lot of moving parts need to come together. Your web host should absolutely play an active role in supporting your business.

Speed

The Challenge: Slow websites have higher than necessary bounce rates and lower than desired conversion rates.

The Solution: Your e-commerce hosting environment should be optimized around your specific website. From Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to caching layers, to manual configurations, your host should enable your developers to create a blazing fast web store.

Case Study: Zanders:

https://jetrails.com/case-study/zanders/

Before finding the right web host and web developers, the total loading time for the https://shop2.gzanders.com/ website averaged 5 to 10 seconds. It’s now down below 2 seconds. Along with other improvements made to the site, this B2B merchant has experienced a 3x increase in e-commerce revenues!

Security

The Challenge: Merchants need to make sure that their websites stay secure and PCI compliant. However, that takes tools and time, and as we all know from ongoing cybersecurity news, website vulnerabilities are frequently exploited by hackers. 

The Solution: Your web host should provide comprehensive tools, including web application firewalling (WAF), intrusion detection systems (IDS), and malware scanners. Hosting environments need to be PCI compliant and be configured with the least-privileged access in mind. They should also be monitored around the clock so that if your security tools identify a security incident it can be quickly mitigated. Tools alone aren’t enough.

Case-in-point: Cardbleed

In September of 2020, a new attack on thousands of e-commerce sites was discovered. Websites hosted by some of the biggest web hosting providers were all susceptible to this attack. It wasn’t about the infrastructure, it was about security best-practices being leveraged. Merchants with hosts that provided more complete security and PCI compliance services were unaffected.

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Cardbleed hacked magento 1 stores

          Scalability

The Challenge: On busy sales days, like Black Friday, it’s essential that e-commerce sites perform perfectly. Unfortunately, we all know that many sites don’t live up to this standard, leading to the sometimes significant loss of sales. 

The Solution: Your host should offer solutions that meet your business needs, such as elastic autoscaling hosting environments that can elegantly support unpredictable traffic spikes. They should also assist with load testing to make sure that there aren’t any other bottlenecks, such as coding issues, that could hurt scalability.

Reliability

The Challenge: No shopper wants to reach a 5xx error page. No merchant wants to deal with intermittent issues because a hosting solution isn’t properly configured or isn’t robust enough. 

The Solution: Your host should be monitoring your error logs. You may also need additional server resources acting as failovers and safeguards to ensure that your site is stable and shoppers are having a consistently good experience.

Case Study: MagicMurals:

https://jetrails.com/case-study/magic-murals/

Scott Woodard, CMO of MagicMurals.com reported that after moving to a better e-commerce web host: “Our hosting has been extremely reliable and performance has improved dramatically.  Average page load times are down 43%, domain lookup times are down 49%, and server connection times are down 80%.” 

Flexibility

The Challenge: Merchants choose open-source platforms like Magento so that they can truly customize their websites. Unfortunately, many web hosts provide cookie-cutter hosting environments that can’t support the needs of evolving e-commerce websites.

The Solution: Rather than rely on prefabricated hosting, merchants can benefit from environments that are architected, configured, and optimized just for them.  The upfront costs for getting a properly personalized hosting solution are typically outweighed by the long-term performance increases.

Case Study:Image3D:

https://jetrails.com/case-study/image3d/

Image3D required a tailored hosting environment for their Terabytes of user-uploaded images. They also needed that hosting solution to be scalable and redundant. Since choosing an e-commerce host that provided a personalized hosting solution, Liz OeDell, their Consumer Relations Manager, reported that “It feels like having another member of the Image3D team who always has my back. As a small company, that is invaluable!”. 

Cost Containment

The Challenge: Merchants will often spin up hosting resources with major infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), only to find that their hosting costs skyrocket.

The Solution: Teams that focus on optimizing hosting environments with proper tools and configurations, rather than simply adding more server resources to mask inefficiencies, can cut your costs while simultaneously improving performance.

Partnership

The Challenge: Your web developers, whether they’re in-house, freelancers, or part of an agency, need to be able to work closely with your web host. When there’s a challenge and your e-commerce revenue is at stake, you need experts on both sides to be able to come together, strategize short-term and long-term solutions, and get these implemented. Unfortunately, developers often feel like they’re simply being bounced around support teams, and don’t have a partner to work within earnest.

The Solution: Your web host should have an established partnership program, and experience in working in collaboration with developers like yours to achieve outstanding outcomes.