Many hosting providers offer what they describe as ecommerce hosting or ecommerce-optimised hosting. However, these solutions can be built on very different technologies and offer very different levels of performance and reliability. Examples include shared server hosting and VPS hosting at the lower end, while more high-end providers will sell dedicated servers as an ecommerce hosting solution.
However, in many cases the limitations of these traditional hosting options can hinder the performance of an online store - a significant disadvantage in the ultra-competitive world of online retail.
For instance, in January 2018 Google formally announced their “Speed Update” which will take into account mobile device page speed as another factor in how websites are ranked in the search results. This update will be rolled out in July 2018 and is designed to weed out the slowest sites.
And while your website may not be affected greatly, it’s now more important than ever that your website performs at its best, especially for mobile. Not only could poor performance affect you negatively in the rankings but it could also prevent visitors from getting to your website in the first place, and upset brand reputation for your ecommerce business. According to research done by Google in 2017, the average loading speed for a landing page on a mobile is 22 seconds - however, it was also revealed that 53% people will leave a mobile site if the page takes more than three seconds to load.
Another study showed that a delay in page loading time or poor website performance could contribute to a 7% reduction in conversion rates - meaning every delay would cost your online business.
For our part, we think the advantages of cloud hosting make it a platform that's well worth considering - whether you're making your first move into the world of online trading, or you're looking to overhaul your current ecommerce hosting arrangements. Read on to learn why.
Cloud offers on-demand scalability
One of the causes of poor performance is that a server is overloaded. There are two possible solutions that could help solve this issue:
- Invest in a high-spec dedicated server - Some retailers still choose to invest in high-spec dedicated servers on the expectation that this will give them enough resource to meet demands at their highest. However, this “over-spec” strategy is not very cost-effective - you’re playing for resources that may well remain unused for the majority of the hardware’s lifespan. Nor is it particularly flexible in terms of future growth - if your store takes off in a dramatic way, you’re still going to be facing a time-consuming migration (or expensive load-balancing act).
- Invest in an agile cloud server - The cloud on the other hand provides increased agility, allowing retailers to provision more server resources at peak times (such as during high-traffic events like Black Friday), and then scale down again when demand returns to normal levels. This unique advantage of cloud hosting allows you to more closely align your monthly costs with your resources usage - much more cost effective in the long-run, especially for a small-to-medium sized ecommerce business.
Speed and consistent performance
In comparison to shared server and VPS hosting, the cloud option wins hands down. When hosted on a cloud platform, your store will be able to draw all the resources it needs from a large reserve of memory, processing power and storage. Gone are the performance limitations of a single machine, with its hard-limits on resources - all of which were shared by other hosting customers, competing for their share of the hardware.
Dedicated servers on the other hand are sometimes considered to offer more consistent performance than cloud, but this isn’t really noticeable in practice and the scalability of cloud makes it much easier to fine-tune performance anyway. For instance, if a lack of CPU or memory hinders your dedicated server's performance, you can upgrade or replace the hardware, but this comes at a cost, both in terms of purchase price and downtime during implementation. With a cloud server, however, adding or removing resources is easier and won’t incur the significant, permanent costs associated with a hardware upgrade.
A less obvious but equally important consideration for an ecommerce business is that most cloud architectures are inherently more resilient than other forms of hosting.
For example, many cloud server hosting providers have some degree of redundancy built into their platforms - helping prevent downtime due to hardware failures.
Compared to relying on a single server, a cloud platform will enlist resources from any number of physical servers, where, if one fails, it will simply restart on another host, causing as little disruption as possible. For any business, this level of redundancy is important, but the 24/7 nature of an ecommerce website - where an outage can result in lost sales and revenue - makes automated fail-over a key advantage.
Learn more about cloud hosting options for SMEs and startups in our useful guide: