Types of E-Commerce Hosting and Features
Generally, most e-commerce hosting services fall into one of these categories.
Server-Only E-Commerce Hosts
This type of service is the most basic and simply provides access to space on a Web server. Hosting services intended for e-commerce often include built-in support for plug-ins, modules, and apps commonly used in e-commerce. In many cases, you’ll need to choose your own e-commerce website software and may need to install it yourself on the server following the host’s instructions.
Full-Platform E-Commerce Hosts
In this arrangement, the e-commerce host provides server space along with one or more options for pre-installed website software. Tools and templates for building your website are often included, along with pre-configured plug-ins for shopping carts and other e-commerce features.
Full-Service E-Commerce Hosts
At its most extensive, full-service e-commerce hosting takes care of every aspect of your website hosting, from registering the domain name to providing options for accepting online payments and more. They also usually include full website builders to walk you through the process of easily setting up your website along with management tools to help you monitor and administer the website.
Read more about hosting solutions for e-commerce sites.
Factors to Consider When Comparing E-Commerce Website Hosting
E-commerce website hosting can be free or can include service packages at a cost. In general, you can expect paid e-commerce hosting to offer more features and support than free options. Many cheap e-commerce hosting providers offer a basic package that’s free while giving you the option to choose additional features and support levels for a reasonable fee.
Uptime and Reliability
You can’t draw in customers if your website is offline, so you want to make sure your e-commerce host guarantees reliable service. Hosts should have information on their site about average uptime and include a guarantee for uptime in the hosting agreement (i.e., guaranteed 99 percent uptime).
Make sure the host offers enough server space to meet your needs. If you have an extensive inventory or plan on using lots of media like pictures and videos, you’ll need enough storage to work with.
Make sure your chosen hosting provider can accommodate your support needs. Check that the host provides enough documentation to walk you through the process of creating and running your site and see what their guarantees are for access and response times when contacting a representative or technician.
Ensure the host provides all the features you’ll need to run your site. Consider administration and page creation tools, modules for accepting and processing payments, and tools for managing your inventory and product pages. If you plan on using third-party software to handle any of these functions, verify that the host’s technical specs are compatible with that software.
For more tips about choosing e-commerce hosting, read our guide about how to avoid common Web hosting mistakes.