Choosing The Best WooCommerce Hosting Takes Work
Want the best WooCommerce hosting available? First we need to talk about hotel choices.
If you are looking for a hotel, and you want a place to sleep for a night, and it's a one night stay, you have to ask yourself: How much do I want to spend?
Do I want to spend 50 bucks? 150 bucks? 350 bucks? 750 bucks? How much do I want to spend? After all, it's four walls, a roof, a bathroom, and a bed. What's crazy about it is that you can get hotel rooms at all those price points and people make those choices every single day.
Because, at the end of the day, you are spending for something more than just four walls, a roof, a bathroom, and a bed. Maybe it's the comfort of the bed. Maybe it's the size of the bathroom. Maybe it's the service level, maybe it's the chocolates and the wine that come with it. Maybe it's the view and the balcony, I don't know.
But what I do know is there exists a ridiculous number of options when you want to stay at a hotel for a single night, anywhere from sometimes $19 to several thousand dollars and that exists because there are a ridiculous amount of people who have different values all along that value chain.
Now I bring that up because we're talking about how do you choose the best WooCommerce hosting on the planet? I'm going to tell you right off the bat, there are folks that will sell you a hosting plan and account for $3 and those that will sell it to you for $1,000, $1,500, $20,000. All for some SSD drives, some network, right?
But it's the same dynamic as a hotel room for night, except that this is an online store and it's not just one night, it's every single day of the month, every month of the year. Some days in those months are particularly bombarded with traffic and that means it's time to talk about how you find the right hosting for a WooCommerce store.
What stage of the eCommerce lifecycle is your store in?
The first thing you got to figure out is what state is your store in. Are you brand new – just figuring it out – and don't have almost any traffic? It's you, your friends, your parents, and a couple of customers a day. Well, it's clear that what you need is going to be very different than a moderate store. Stores with a good number of orders a day, where every now and then it has a spike. Or maybe your store is running hot every single day. You have tons of orders all the time. Every hour it feels like there's a rush.
Those are three different kinds of stores and you're likely going to need three different kinds of plans, whether they're the same host or different hosts. You don't need the same infrastructure for those stores.
But there are some things you do need for every store. Some things that differentiate your store from other websites and I'd like to spend just a little bit of time talking about those things.
Make sure your WooCommerce host has you covered
Stores don't use caching the same way sites do
You by now know that caching makes your website faster. It does. It makes your website faster by pre-configuring, pre-loading certain amounts of data, certain files to make it faster for you to get access to them. But of course in an online store, not everything can be cached.
For example, if I go to my shopping cart, I would like to see the things I put in it and if you go to your shopping cart, you'd like to see what you put in. But I don't want to see your stuff and you don't want to see mine, so you're not going to cache the cart page. You're not going to cache checkout, you're not going to cache other pages.
For example, what about your product pages? If you have inventory counts on there – 25 left, 37 left, you don't want to necessarily cache that part of the page, right? Showing available inventory helps create some demand. So you cannot just say, “Oh good, I found a WordPress hosting plan that's really inexpensive, they use heavy caching and I'll just use them for my WooCommerce store.” It's not going to work.
You're going to need to host with a company who understands that it's a WooCommerce store and that WooCommerce doesn't get cached the same way. As long as they understand that, you're in good hands and there are several hosts that do understand that.
So caching is one thing you have to understand, it's different than your normal WordPress website. Another dynamic you need to understand is what happens when you have a lot of people ordering at the same time? When a lot of people are ordering at the same time, you likely need more PHP workers.
High Traffic Stores need more PHP Workers
PHP workers are essentially the concurrent threads that your web server allows you to spin up so that you can have more lanes on the highway. If you have more traffic, you want more lanes or else you get gridlock, right? So if you're working with a host who understands that, they're not just going to say, “Oh, okay, we'll give you two PHP workers and you're done,” right? You will likely need more and often you have to pay for more. But what's important to understand is that if you have a lot of traffic coming through, even just for one hour a day, you need your server to be able to dynamically scale or support that many concurrent users.
I'll tell you this too, there are people who talked about auto scale, but if they're talking about auto scale from a RAM and disk perspective, and not about PHP workers, you might be given more RAM and more disk and still not get more lanes on the highway. That's not going to help you very much. So you need to ask about the PHP workers. You need to understand that that's a key part of scaling, along with RAM and disk and everything else. So that's a second way that your store is going to be different than the way a normal website would be hosted.
Your Competition isn't other WooCommerce Stores
Today, your store isn't competing with other WooCommerce stores. Your store is competing across the globe with all the other online stores and the bar for the feature set for online stores has gone up and up and up.
Now you know what your host is going to tell you, “Oh, well we don't get into that,” right? “We just provide the box and the network and the power and the resources of the server and then you take care of the rest,” and that's what you hear from most folks. It's why we created Managed WooCommerce Hosting so that we could say, “No, no, no.”
The reality is you're competing against a Shopify store, and a Magento store, a WIX store – and each of those stores is coming with other features.
We know that if you're a developer, your customers are coming to you saying, “I want this feature and this feature.” If you're a merchant, you're saying, I want the feature that looks like that guy's store.
Marketing features and engagement features have normally been extensions – extensions that you have to pay for. It's easy as a developer or a merchant to feel a little bit like, now I got to buy that feature, and buy that feature and when will this end? So our Managed WooCommerce offering also provides some of those features – key features that we think you need.
Features Every Store Needs
Everyone needs cart abandonment…
If someone is leaving your site, you know you want a way to capture some of their information and make sure that you can follow up with them. So we make it a key part of the platform, but it's not just cart abandonment, right?
And Image Compression…
Image compression. Everybody and their brother knows that web pages are getting slower and slower and e-commerce product pages get even slower because you have all those images.
You need a way to automatically – behind the scenes – compress images and make sure that they're fast. Make sure the page loads up quickly. Page speed is such an important dynamic to getting found online. So is that there or is your host going to tell you that you also need to go buy that (somewhere else)?
What about reporting – the reporting that allows you to segment your customers? We think that's critical and we think that how you deliver reporting is just as critical as the fact that you do deliver reporting.
If you deliver reporting on the same server that's functioning as your eCommerce store, it means that cycle time and processes on that server are being used for reporting and not to help putting things in customer carts. You don't want that.
So offsite reporting is critical and a key part of how we do things. But you'd want that from anyone, right? And you'd want to talk to someone about it. Invariably what often you'll hear is, “We can support it. You just have to buy the reporting solution.” Our approach is slightly different. It's why we believe we have the best WooCommerce Hosting.
Merchants and Developers Alike Need Support
Those features are certainly a couple of the pieces that make hosting a WooCommerce store different, but developers and merchants need more than that. It's not just features. You also need to think about support.
When you dial in support, whether you're using a phone or whether you're on chat or however you're doing it, when you reach out for help, does the person on the other end understand that you're talking about an online store? Powering it down or moving it to another site and changing the IP address – those suggestions are not solutions.
Do they understand WooCommerce? Do they know where to look and say, “Oh, I think you have this problem. Let's go look and figure it. Let's clean it up”? Do they understand WooCommerce and do they understand performance?
Because it turns out that not all extensions for WooCommerce are the same.
When we look at a site for a customer when we're doing support and we see some of these plugins that are really poor performers, we know it. We may recommend a replacement and that swap drops three seconds off page load times.
Choosing the Right Hosting for WooCommerce Stores
At the end of the day, when you're choosing the right hosting for WooCommerce, you need to know some things:
- You have to know about your store.
- You have to understand your demand.
- You also have to think through what features you need
- And consider what support you need.
Then, of course, you get to the last question, which is where we started.
How much do you want to spend on the right WooCommerce hosting plan?
For the longest time when we created Managed WooCommerce, we started at $250 a month and that was because we were talking to serious store owners. We were talking to folks that were building or bringing over serious stores from somewhere else.
But over the last couple of years we have started working with new stores – young stores that thought, “I might look at Shopify or might like look at WooCommerce,” and we said, “Why don't we help you make a really compelling case to check out WooCommerce?”
Just last week we rolled out a brand new $19 a month store. Which is a little bit like that $49 hotel room. It's not going to say you could host a store that's doing $1 million an hour on $19 a month. But you can do thousands of dollars a month in revenue on $19 a month, and that's pretty amazing.
We created a low price plan. We have several larger plans too. So that wherever you want to spend, we have a solution for you.