Step one in having a successful ecommerce company is availability. Your store must be open at all times, around the clock, with few exceptions. That’s why selecting the best host is so vital to turning a profit.
Hosting is crucial for ecommerce because it determines how your online store operates and performs. Your ecommerce website is essentially a digital storefront that needs a physical location, and hosting provides that space on the internet where your site can be accessed.
Ecommerce hosting typically includes web hosting services, which provide server space to host your website and make it accessible on the internet. Additionally, ecommerce hosting providers may also offer features like content delivery networks (CDN) shopping cart software, payment processing integrations, security measures for credit card payments and website builders.
If you’re making $100,000 a day, a single second delay in load times could lose you $2.5 million in annual sales. This is avoidable, of course, if you make the best ecommerce hosting decision for your unique circumstances.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options include external platforms provided by vendors, accessible through the internet. Most IT burdens are placed on the vendor, although this comes with additional costs.
SaaS platforms typically fit within an existing tech stack and may include parts like a shopping cart, storage and networking. This is a popular ecommerce hosting solution for small businesses.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides businesses with on-demand access to IT infrastructure resources, such as servers, storage, networking and computing resources, without having to purchase and maintain physical hardware.
For ecommerce companies, IaaS can be a cost-effective solution for online retailers looking to scale their businesses quickly without having to invest heavily in physical infrastructure.
Headless hosting refers to an environment where the frontend and backend of an ecommerce website are decoupled, allowing for greater flexibility and customization.
In a headless hosting setup, the website's presentation layer can be developed and managed independently of the backend, allowing the platform to create more unique shopping experiences.
On-premise hosting has a site living in physical data centers owned and managed by the company. These are typically used by enterprise organizations or those with stricter regulatory environments.
By self-hosting, an ecommerce business has complete control over the servers — as well as the burden of managing and securing them.
The expansion of ecommerce has brought with it an expanded roster of companies that serve the industry. These are the largest and most commonly used ecommerce web hosting companies used by ecommerce stores.
Long a popular solution in the small-to-medium business space, BigCommerce has recently become a popular choice for mid-market and enterprise businesses as well.
It has a straightforward dashboard, top-rated SEO, many native features and the advantages (like lower TCO and reduced deployment time) that come from SaaS.
BigCommerce has highly flexible APIs and a strong headless commerce offering (more on that shortly).
BigCommerce offers a personalized Enterprise Customer Onboarding, catalog transfer services and robust educational resources to ease the replatform process.
Enterprise Account Managers and Technical Account Managers also provide additional resources and personalized help to support BigCommerce Enterprise clients’ needs.
BigCommerce also has a large team of partners and agencies who are experts on the platform and can assist with design, development and SEO needs. Because the platform has more native functionality, the learning curve may be more difficult than with some simpler platforms available. However, BigCommerce University offers specialized training — on campus, on-site and on-demand — that can get you and your team up-to-speed on the platform quickly.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (previously Demandware) is a SaaS option for businesses looking to streamline their omnichannel retail.
It offers an integrated platform that enables businesses to manage their sales in digital and physical channels with one unified solution.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud is intended for B2C businesses, so if you are operating a B2B or hybrid business, you will want to look at Salesforce CloudCraze instead.
However, while the platform provides a suite of related services that can complement the ecommerce offering, it may require previous programming and web development expertise.
Used in a wide range of industries, commercetools is a microservice-based and API-driven SaaS platform.
commercetools provides the backend functionality, while the merchant integrates with web applications or digital experience platforms to complete the frontend experience. The platform can integrate with Cybersource, Contentstack and Frontastic, as well as with DXPs and frontend CMS systems like Bloomreach and Adobe Experience Cloud.
commercetools can connect to all frontends and applications, and it can help businesses connect to a variety of digital touchpoints including mobile apps, IoT, AR/VR applications and more for unique user experiences.
Although commercetools has only a small ecosystem of partners, the platform does offer features for inventory management, returns management and multi-store management.
Adobe Commerce, powered by Magento and part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, has the flexibility to be an on-premise or cloud-hosted option.
Magento allows you to have complete control of your platform, supports a large product catalog with many variants, has many native features related to product bundling, multi-store functionality and more.
Magento also has a strong market presence and is a well-known brand.
To use Magento Commerce, you will likely have a heavy dependence on designers and developers as well as expensive maintenance and support, which can make it difficult to calculate your total cost of ownership. However, Magento does boast a strong developer community that can answer any questions and help resolve issues.
SAP Hybris Commerce can be hosted on-premise or through cloud infrastructures, and SAP Commerce Cloud is its cloud-based offering.
SAP Commerce Cloud (along with SAP Hybris) offers native functionality appealing to businesses with a large international presence including multi-site, multi-language and multiple currencies.
They also offer complex data management tools, Salesforce automation, subscription order management, options for multiple catalogs and omnichannel capabilities.
Oracle CX Commerce, formerly known as Oracle Commerce Cloud, is the cloud-hosted product spin-off from the on-premise Oracle Commerce. Oracle Commerce Cloud supports both B2B and B2C customers in a number of verticals in a single SaaS platform.
Oracle Commerce Cloud was built with an API-first architecture that lends itself to flexibility in development, and it also has AI features and supports multi-channel strategies. However, some customers warn against high maintenance and overhead costs, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious retailers.
Shopify has a strong market presence in the ecommerce space. In 2014, they launched Shopify Plus as their solution for enterprise clients.
As a SaaS solution, the Shopify Plus platform offers the benefits of handling PCI compliance and security and solid uptime stats. The Shopify Plus platform also offers ease-of-use, mobile optimization and a customizable checkout.
The platform has a dedicated Merchant Success Manager and Launch Manager to assist their enterprise clients, as well as a robust catalog of apps, some of which are exclusive for Shopify Plus.
Unfortunately, Shopify Plus relies on third-party apps to make up for gaps in native functionality, which can greatly increase your total cost of ownership once you add in all of the apps you will require. Make sure to factor these costs into your decision-making process.
Additionally, you will need to pass data between your platform and third-party systems using APIs. However, Shopify Plus has rigid API call per second limits.
A couple of other considerations:
Besides the monthly subscription rate, beware that you may have to pay additional transaction fees, particularly if you don’t use Shopify’s proprietary payment provider, as well as for paid extensions, themes and plug-ins.
B2B functionality is limited on Shopify Plus compared to other platforms, and Shopify Plus can only support up to 10 storefronts.
WooCommerce hosting is an open-source, customizable WordPress plugin that merchants can use to transform their websites and blogs into online storefronts. It offers SEO features, various payment gateways and options for multichannel.
It’s free to use, features a fully built-out integration with WordPress hosting and has a large and growing application and extensions store. It also requires store owners to be responsible for their own PCI compliance, features like abandoned cart recovery and coupons require additional costs and, as a Wordpress plugin, it is reliant on their platform.
Though there is some overlap in solutions in features offered, each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing a host that works well with your existing infrastructure is vital to the continued growth of your platform.
Cost is always a consideration. The most expensive option does not make it the best one — though the cheapest one is rarely the preferred direction either.
Having a list of requirements and “nice to haves” will help you determine the best vendor to go with. Bandwidth needs will also need to be considered. Having an unmetered bandwidth option provides cost certainty.
Integrations and migrations are hard. A team with deep skills may be able to work with a more complex solution that also offers more tools and features. However, if you’re a beginner at this, you may need additional help, pre-built templates, robust control panels or add-ons.
If you have an experienced team that is fluent in PHP and has done this kind of complicated work, you may be able to use a vendor that doesn’t offer as much customer support. Research the support teams to understand how helpful they can be.
Though your specific needs may vary, these factors are fairly universal and should be considered when selecting a host.
Customers expect lightning-fast speeds — 47% expect a page to load in two seconds or less. It’s on the seller to deliver a user-friendly experience that connects the customer with products as quickly as possible. Customers expect a one-click site experience. A site with quick caching or uses fast SSD storage helps.
Downtime can be devastating and will cripple an ecommerce platform. One minute of downtime would cost Amazon over $220,000, for example. A reliable host that keeps your doors open at all times is vital. You may want to include uptime guarantees or money-back guarantees in your contract.
Look for a host that offers advanced security features such as SSL certificates, two-factor authentication and encryption to ensure that your customers' personal and payment information is protected.
Hosts should include firewalls and tools to combat malware or DDOS attacks. Integrations with security providers like Cloudflare are becoming more common.
All ecommerce retailers must meet PCI compliance standards.
Up to 90% of the logins to ecommerce websites may be fraudulent. Almost 20% of people who learn about a breach stop shopping at a particular retailer altogether. A little more than 30% stop purchasing from that company temporarily. Being PCI compliant is mandatory.
Retailers are required to abide by PCI DSS, standards that protect customer information. When you choose the right web host, they’ll ensure PCI compliance so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Ecommerce sites are typically rich with images, which can slow down some sites. A host must have the bandwidth to support large numbers of files without impacting the customer experience.
You should always be ready for the worst. If something happens and your site disappears, your host should have the ability to restore a backup quickly and easily. Daily backups — and automatic backups, at that — are now the standard.
Be aware of what comes with your hosting agreement and what doesn’t. Read the fine print and have a full understanding of what you’re signing up for. You don’t want surprises when you thought you signed up for a host that was easily scalable.
Finding the right host removes a lot of pain points for ecommerce stores. Use cases will vary from business to business, but there are some factors that are relevant in every case.
Be mindful of these and business owners will be able to identify an ecommerce hosting plan that is ideal for your needs.
An ecommerce host is a web hosting service that provides businesses with the infrastructure and tools necessary to run an online store. The host provides the server space, bandwidth and software needed to manage an ecommerce website.
Shared hosting is a hosting service where multiple websites share a single server and its resources such as disk space, CPU and memory.
There is also VPS hosting, that is similar to shared, but is more customizable. Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, is a hosting service where a, well, dedicated server to a single website or application.
The cost of ecommerce hosting can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of hosting, the features included and the hosting provider.
Shared hosting plans for ecommerce websites can depend on the hosting provider and the features included. For example, free domains may reduce the overall cost of the hosting package if you haven’t already secured your own domain name.
Dedicated hosting plans for ecommerce websites depend on the server's specifications, features and the hosting platform. Features like unlimited bandwidth may bring additional costs.
Here are the pricing options at BigCommerce:
Our new Annual Standard plan keeps your pricing at the current monthly rate of $29 per month when paid annually ($348 per year) — a 25% discount off the new monthly rate, saving you $120 per year.
If you choose to pay monthly then your Standard plan rate will be $39 per month.
Our new Annual Plus plan keeps your pricing at the current monthly rate of $79 per month when paid annually ($948 per year) — a 25% discount off the new monthly rate, saving you $312 per year.
If you choose to pay monthly then your Plus plan rate will be $105 per month.
Our new Annual Pro plan keeps your pricing at the current monthly rate of $299 per month when paid annually ($3,588 per year) — a 25% discount off the new monthly rate, saving you $1,200 per year.
If you choose to pay monthly then your Pro plan rate will be $399 per month.