UK E-Commerce Hosting: The Details
E-commerce hosting is a type of web hosting that is designated specifically to host e-commerce websites for businesses or entrepreneurs. That is, websites that operate as online shops, equipped to facilitate the online transaction of goods and services. We also created host comparisons for e-commerce hosting Australia and e-commerce hosting for Canada.
Due to the sensitive nature of the data shared through these transactions, there are a number of features and functions associated with this type of UK web hosting platform that differentiates it from other types of web hosting.
What Makes E-Commerce Hosting Different from Normal Web Hosting for the UK
Compared to the type of hosting plan needed for a general website or blog, e-commerce hosting differs from “normal” web hosting in several ways.
First of all, e-commerce hosting involves a variety of functions and tools necessary for businesses to facilitate online transactions.
While e-commerce hosting still includes the consideration of general aspects of site-building such as basic features of web design, features specific to this hosting platform include:
● Online catalogs
● Inventory management
● Payment processing capabilities
● Shopping cart functions
● and a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate
The features offered within e-commerce hosting plans enable site owners to adequately set up their e-commerce site and subsequently manage and conduct the process of their business transactions.
While general websites have no need for features such as payment processing, they are indispensable to businesses and entrepreneurs intending to host an online shop.
The cost of e-commerce hosting may vary depending on the specific provider you choose for your hosting plan, as well as the features the they offer.
Typically, a good-quality e-commerce hosting plan will run from $20 – $250 plus a month. Hosting a custom e-commerce system, however, can run that cost up even higher, starting at $300 with room to climb.
Web hosting plans without e-commerce capabilities, on the other hand, can be purchased for as little as $4 a month and go up from there based on the type of web hosting platform (e.g. VPS, shared, dedicated, etc). While there are also some free web hosting options, this is generally not recommended for businesses.
What to Look for When Searching for a UK E-Commerce Host
There are several factors you should consider when searching for an e-commerce web host provider. The most important considerations should concern the specific needs of your business, as some features offered by providers may or may not be necessary to fulfil your purpose.
Detailed below are brief explanations of the different types of web hosting, as well as key things to look for when browsing e-commerce hosting providers.
Shared hosting is a type of web hosting that is popular among businesses, particularly those on a budget as these plans tend to be more budget-friendly.
On a shared hosting plan, your website is hosted on a server that is shared with other websites. The actual number of websites you are sharing your server, as well as what you can expect as far as site performance goes, depends on the provider. Websites hosted on a shared server may be open to security threats, and web performance may also be dependent on how many resources are being claimed or used by other sites on your same server.
Cloud hosting involves sharing a server with other websites, similar to VPS hosting, and operates across several interconnected web servers. There are three main categories of cloud hosting: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas).
Benefits of cloud hosting include being able to use either a Linux or Windows operating system (OS), as well as the flexibility that’s afforded through the scalability of cloud hosting. That is, cloud solutions are priced based on use, only requiring businesses to pay for the resources they are actually utilizing.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is similar to both dedicated and shared hosting, as it offers some of the control and resources offered within dedicated hosting plans, but within a shared hosting environment. That is, a VPS hosting operates through several different virtual operating systems on one physical server.
With a VPS hosting plan, you still share some resources with other websites, but you have the benefit of having your operating system (OS). Two different types of VPS plans may be offered by providers: self-managed VPS, and managed VPS. The former provides the site owner with control over the server, as well as the responsibility of handling all technical aspects. With a managed VPS plan, the hosting company handles the technical aspects.
Dedicated hosting is one of the more expensive types of hosting. With dedicated hosting, web hosts lease and have full control over their own server. Dedicated hosting plans feature high site performance, control over customization, and virtually 100% uptime.
WordPress hosting is a type of web hosting optimized specifically to support sites that operate through the custom management system (CMS), WordPress.
Server Location and Speed
Server location matters, especially with e-commerce sites. Consider that the further you or your target market is from the geographic location of the server, the slower your website will run. When it comes to e-commerce, delays in loading times can be highly detrimental, causing your business to lose sales.
In order to keep have your site feature adequate loading times and decrease delay, it is best to keep your servers geographically close to your intended target audience.
It is ideal to choose a host provider that offers easy access to a support team. If your site crashes, or some other feature appears to be malfunctioning, it is important to have an attentive support team on standby to be able to quickly address and rectify the issue.
Having an adequate allotment of disk space is another important consideration when choosing a hosting plan.
Although it can vary from business to business, your e-commerce website will need adequate disk space for your individual product pages. Product pages that feature high-quality graphics, especially, take up more space than websites such as blogs, which tend to be more text-heavy with less space needed for graphics and other media.
The allotment of disk space you receive through your hosting plan also accounts for video and audio files, databases, email account, and any installed scripts and programs.
Some plans offer unlimited disk space, which may be the best option for larger websites. Businesses planning to operate smaller e-commerce sites with less web pages and content, however, may not necessarily need to stretch their dollars for an unlimited package.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a technology that provides a secure, encrypted internet connection between a server and internet browsers – i.e. your customers. This enables the private transmission of sensitive data, such as payment processing information.
Websites that are protected by SSL will feature a green address bar or lock symbol located to the left of the address bar. The URL will also begin with https:// rather than the standard http://
Data protection is essential to the success and reputation of an e-commerce site, which makes SSL widely considered a necessary feature these days rather than optional. Due to the sophistication of the encrypted technology, possessing an SSL certificate allows for your site to establish trust and confidence with your customers.
Last is the consideration of choosing a hosting plan that features optimal uptime. Almost every web host provider offers 99-100% uptime to their customers; however, even that 1% can be crucial.
Unless your website is undergoing scheduled maintenance, you should aim for a plan that will allow your site to be accessible virtually 100% of the time.
And that’s it, it might seem overwhelming to cover all the points, but just take it one step at a time. Maybe even create a spreadsheet and log all the specs for the best web hosting providers in the UK, so you’ve got an easy overview.
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