One of the most significant decisions you’ll make, carefully evaluating hosting service plans for your e-commerce furniture store will have a direct effect on your profitability. For openers, a good plan with a solid provider will make your store nearly impervious to downtime. This means you’ll always be available to your customers, which can translate directly into sales. With this in mind, here are some of the most important considerations to make.
You’re selling furniture. This means your customers are transferring their financial information to (or through) your site to pay for their purchases. Your hosting provider should be capable of supporting SSL certificates at a minimum. They should also provide an environment capable of adhering to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council’s requirements. You should also inquire about the availability of private servers and virtual private servers, rather than shared hosting for your store. These will improve the security of your e-commerce furniture store appreciably.
Fast Load Times
Statistics show the average online shopper will give your store up to three seconds to load and be ready to navigate. With furniture, you’re going to have to load a lot of images fast. You’ll need a hosting provider capable of supplying the bandwidth you’ll need to make this happen. It helps to think of bandwidth as the highway over which your information travels to your users. The wider the highway, the more traffic it will support, which means you can get your data into their machines more quickly.
Specific eCommerce Support
When you sell furniture online, there are a number of detailed features your site will need. Shopping cart software and payment gateway support are paramount, as these give your customers the ability to select products and pay for them. These functions must operate seamlessly because they are two of the most critical points in the purchasing funnel. It is at these points many customers will choose to bail on the transaction, so it’s important to give them nothing to second guess in this regard. SSL certification, a dedicated IP and one-click shopping cart software installation are essential to your success.
Multiple Domain Name Capability/Email Addresses
If your domain name has multiple spellings, you’ll find it beneficial to have those spelling variations also lead to your store. This means your hosting provider must be capable of dealing with multiple domain names. Many providers offer a single free domain but charge for additional ones. Ideally, you’ll get as many as possible for free—or at least at a reduced rate. You’ll also need email addresses with your domain names. These are key to establishing online credibility.
If your site is going to rank highly with search engines, you’ll need to update it daily. This means your site will be changing every day, so it will also need to be backed each time This way, if it ever goes down, you can get everything back online quickly and with minimal data loss. In this regard, you want full backups, the ability to restore files on your own and backup testing.
When the stuff hits the fan, you’re going to want someone to be there to help you clean the walls. Your comfort level largely determines what form that takes. At the minimum, you want extensive documentation so you can troubleshoot on your own. Beyond that, 24/7 online chat and/or telephone assistance is even better. Ultimately, what you really want is someone to be there when you need them most—and that usually is NOT between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., so access to 24/7/365 tech support is paramount.
Reasonable Fees/Contract Requirements
Most hosting service offer discounts if you commit to keeping your site with them for a year or more. If you’re satisfied with their service, this is a great deal, but if you’re locked into a contract and you’re not satisfied you’ve got a problem. Ideally, there will be a trial period within which you can cancel the contract and incur no penalties. Anyone promising unlimited anything for $5 a month probably won’t be reliable. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Once you’ve shopped around a bit, you’ll know a good arrangement when you see one.
Evaluating hosting service plans for your e-commerce furniture store is one of the most critical things you’ll do. Choose wisely and your site will be reliable and have the best potential to be profitable.