A selection of insider tricks and tips to get the most of the ecommerce hosting package for your website.
Everything you know about traditional website usage (often illustrated as a bell curve starting at 8.30am and ending at 6.15pm) can be thrown aside in the weird world of online shopping. For example, you might find that site maintenance causes least disruption on a Tuesday morning than in the traditional late Saturday night slot. Make sure your web host understands these trends.
Concentrate your efforts on the first byte, not last byte. Online consumers are in browsing mode and are forgiving if content ‘below the fold’ (i.e. after scrolling the page) renders in slowly, providing they can see the website loading quickly. Get the first byte right and don’t worry about the last byte too much.
Your development team and your hosting company need to work towards getting the upper portion of your pages to load lightning fast.
Your ecommerce website will live or die by the speed of its database. When consumers are looking around your website, they are activating your database, querying sizes, prices and availability. They are unforgiving with slowness in those queries.
Imagine asking an in-store shop assistant about a size… and the shop assistant staring blankly at you for five seconds before replying. You would walk out of that store.
Databases are almost always the bottleneck in e-commerce site speed. Make your developers focus on this, optimising code and calls for a speedy experience for customers. Make your hosting company demonstrate database health and speed to you. Database, database, and more database!
Sales, promotions, email marketing, PPC campaigns and a host of other factors can all have a big effect on the level of traffic hitting your ecommerce website at any particular time. Forewarned is forearmed, so tell your hosting and development company what is in the pipeline and make them responsible for making sure the website can withstand whatever is thrown at it.
Don’t expect your website hosts to know about your seasonality. The Christmas rush is obvious, but is your sales peak at the start of December or a week before Christmas? A heads-up will help your hosting company to prepare for these trends. At what other times of the year do you expect to make most of your sales?
This is where most sales are abandoned and lost, and where your customer’s sensitivity to security is at its height. Get the basics right in terms of secure hosting and payment processing.
Beyond that, work hard to make sure the four or five pages that take the customer through checkout and delivery give them the experience you want them to remember about dealing with your brand.
Do you serve customers abroad? If so, consider having a version of the site hosting near to those customers. Shopping on websites hosting in far flung lands can be a truly miserable experience - and customers don’t care about the reasons for that. They won’t wait while a website slowly talks to their computer from the other side of the world.
If you’re serious about serving different markets, having ecommerce hosting in those markets shouldn’t cost the earth and will result in more sales.
You should expect your hosting company to help you measure customer experience in a meaningful way. Make adjustments to the hosting platform as required and keep it under review.
Good hosting companies will welcome the opportunity to see how customers are using the site via your analytics data. And they’ll be keen to make technical adjustments to help bring in sales on your site. Meet with them, measure, adjust and meet them again to review.
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