What is Important for a Successful eCommerce Website?
There are several critical success factors that are crucial for any eCommerce business, whether it’s an Amazon.com or a fledgling MomPop.com, including:
- Great, well-priced, desirable products,
- Website traffic, and
- Excellent end-to-end user-experience (aka UX).
eCommerce Hosting has a direct impact on the last critical success factor—the User Experience. How? Hosting impacts (a) how fast your website is, (b) what the website uptime [time when it is accessible and is not “down”] is, and (c) how well critical eCommerce functions [such as product catalogue, shopping cart, checkout / credit card processing, etc.] work. Let’s briefly review all three of these one-by-one.
Hosting and Website Speed
According to a study by KISSmetrics [click to download the study] 47% of online shoppers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. That’s the bad news. The good news [from the same study] is that even with slower web pages online users are still willing to wait. However, page abandonment does increase with increased waiting time. As the chart below shows if the web page loads for more than 2 seconds your website may lose about 15% of its users. If it loads for 4 seconds of longer the number of abandoning users increases to 25%. And at a 10-second mark [a virtual eternity in Internet times] almost 40% of your users will disappear.
Web Page Abandonment Depending on Page Loading Time
Of course, by no means are we advocating you get such a horrible hosting that your web pages would load for 10 seconds. Even 5 seconds is unacceptable. We’d advise you don’t even consider any hosting that would result in more than 2 seconds. And even better if your website loading time would be under 1 second. And remember we are still talking about the least expensive type of hosting called Shared Hosting, not VPS, and not Dedicated. Those by definition should give you super high loading speed but will also cost you quite a bit more than Shared Hosting.
To help you select an eCommerce Hosting provider based on (1) Average Page Loading Speed, (2) Price, and (3) Customer Reviews of their services, we have compiled a Top 50 Speedy & Cheap Shared Hosting Plans chart below. Please, note that the ranking assigns the highest importance [50% to be exact] to Speed. Whereas Price and Customer Reviews are given equal importance of 25% each.
Top 50 Speedy & Cheap Shared Hosting Plans
[Ranking is based on relative weights: Page Loading Speed (50%), 3-year Average Hosting Price (25%), and Customer Reviews (25%)]
|Rank||Web Host||Shared Hosting Plan||3-year Avg. Price1||Avg. Customer Review2||Avg. Page Loading Speed (sec)3||Composite Index4||Action|
|#3||WP Single||$1.99||4.2||0.9||95||Visit Hostinger|
|#4||WP Starter||$3.99||4.2||0.9||94||Visit Hostinger|
|#5||WP Spark||$5.99||4.1||0.9||94||Visit Webhosting Hub|
|#6||WP Business||$6.99||4.2||0.9||93||Visit Hostinger|
|#7||WP Nitro||$7.99||4.1||0.9||93||Visit Webhosting Hub|
|#8||WP Dynamo||$9.99||4.1||0.9||93||Visit Webhosting Hub|
|#9||WP PRO||$11.59||4.2||0.9||92||Visit Hostinger|
|#13||Startup||$2.99||3.1||1.0||85||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#14||WP Personal||$2.99||3.1||1.0||85||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#15||Drive||$5.99||3.1||1.0||84||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#16||Turbo Boost||$6.99||3.1||1.0||84||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#17||WP Personal||$2.99||4.2||1.7||84||Visit AccuWeb|
|#18||WP Small Business||$9.99||3.1||1.0||83||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#19||Small Business||$5.09||4.2||1.7||83||Visit AccuWeb|
|#20||Turbo MAX||$12.99||3.1||1.0||82||Visit A2 Hosting|
|#22||WP Small Business||$9.99||4.2||1.7||81||Visit AccuWeb|
|#23||WP Startup||$2.99||3.9||2.3||72||Visit WP Engine|
|#24||WP Growth||$2.99||3.9||2.3||72||Visit WP Engine|
|#25||WP Professional||$5.99||3.9||2.3||71||Visit WP Engine|
|#26||WP Scale||$5.99||3.9||2.3||71||Visit WP Engine|
|#29||WP Unlimited||$3.95||3.0||2.0||70||Visit DreamHost|
|#31||WP Starter||$4.26||3.0||2.0||69||Visit DreamHost|
|#36||WP VPS Basic||$10.00||3.0||2.0||68||Visit DreamHost|
|#39||Power Plan||$2.29||4.2||2.9||65||Visit Webhosting Pad|
|#40||Power Plan Plus + WP Basic||$2.99||4.2||2.9||65||Visit Webhosting Pad|
|#42||Power Plan Plus + WP Pro||$3.99||4.2||2.9||65||Visit Webhosting Pad|
|#43||WP Spark||$19.00||3.7||2.3||65||Visit LiquidWeb|
|#44||WP VPS Business||$20.00||3.0||2.0||64||Visit DreamHost|
|#45||Power Plan Plus + WP Premium||$5.99||4.2||2.9||64||Visit Webhosting Pad|
|#46||WP Basic||$4.95||2.2||1.9||64||Visit BlueHost|
|#48||WP Plus||$7.45||2.2||1.9||63||Visit BlueHost|
|#49||WP Choice Plus||$7.45||2.2||1.9||63||Visit BlueHost|
|#50||WP Pro||$18.95||2.2||1.9||60||Visit BlueHost|
So, if the KISSmetrics study is right and you actually could lose as much as 25% of your potential customers if your website is too slow, what does this mean in real dollars and cents?!
Well, let’s assume your website traffic is 1,000 visitors per day. And let’s also assume your conversion rate is 3%, which basically means that on average you get 30 new customers per day [1,000 x 3% = 30]. Let’s also assume that these customers spend on average $20 on your website and your average gross margin on sold goods or services is 30%. This means that if due to slow speed you lose 25% of your potential daily customers [or 30 customers x 25% = 7.5 customers per day], you’d lose $150 in daily Revenue and $45 in daily Gross Profit. Daily! Meaning, every single day!
So, then how much every 1 second of faster Web Page Loading Speed is worth to your business?! See the graph below. As you can see just 1 second faster webpage loading might be worth $2,190 to $4,928.
Potential Gross Margin Increase Depending on Web Page Loading Speed Increase
In other words if your eCommerce website could load faster by just 1 second it could earn $2,190 to $4,928 more in annual Gross Profit. This means that you should be willing to pay $2,190 up to $4,928 more in annual web hosting fees [or $180-$410 per month] if this will improve your eCommerce website loading time by 1 second.
Hosting and Website Uptime
The above Top 50 Speedy & Cheap Shared Hosting companies uptime ranged from 98.4% to 99.99%. If you wonder what these numbers mean in real terms, let’s translate them into something anyone can understand. One year has 365 days and 8,760 hours [=365 x 24 hours per day]. Those hosting providers that offer 99.99% are expected to be “down” at maximum 52 minutes per year!!! Yes, that’s 52 minutes, day and night, over a period of one full year, or 8,760 hours, which is equal to 525,600 minutes.
Those hosting providers [the worst ones on our list] that are expected to have an uptime of 98.4% [or in other words are expected to be “down” 1.6% of the time] will be down a total of 138 hours per year. Yep, that’s quite a lot. That’s 5.8 days per year. And if those downtimes are most likely going to happen during peak eCommerce sales hours and thus could cost you quite a bit in lost Revenue and Profit. How much?! Well, let’s use the above numbers as an example.
As in our example above, let’s assume your daily traffic is 1,000 users, 3% conversion rate, $20 average, and the gross margin of 30%. This means that each day you generate a total Revenue of $600 [30 customers x $20] and a total Gross Profit of $180 per day [$600 x 30%].
Now, let’s estimate what a web hosting provider with 99.99% uptime versus that with 98.4% uptime would cost your business in terms of lost potential Gross Profit. With a 99.99% uptime your website would be “down” only 52 minutes per year [see above]. So, if your Gross Profit is $180 per day [or $0.125 per minute] the downtime of 52 minutes might result in up to $6.5 in Gross Profit per year. Well, that’s nothing to write home about…
However, if we take the worst uptime performance of 98.4% and your daily Gross Profit of $180, you might lose as much as $1,340 in Gross Profit per year [5.8 “down” days x $180 Gross Profit per day]! Well, that’s about $86 per month in Gross Profit! So, all of a sudden that $5 [or $10 or even $50] per month hosting fee does not sound that significant any more, doesn’t it?!
The bottom line is in our example above the difference between a 99.99% uptime and 98.4% uptime might be worth an extra $1,333 in Gross Profit per year [the difference between $1,340 and $6.5], or about $110 per month. Thus, if you pick an eCommerce Hosting Plan guaranteeing you a 99.99% uptime, paying up to $110 per month more is worth the extra cost.
Hosting and eCommerce Platform
Now, let’s briefly talk about some of the key eCommerce functions and how your choice of web hosting could impact them. Any online store needs several critical functions without which it cannot exist, including:
- Product catalogue,
- Shopping cart, and
- Credit card processing.
There are multiple eCommerce platforms that offer these functions. Here is a list of those that are affordable for small and medium size businesses:
Some of the above eCommerce platforms are what is called “self-hosted” and some are SaaS. For example, the most popular eCommerce platform called WooCommerce is actually a plug-in to another most popular Content Management System [CMS] called WordPress. If you decide to use WordPress and WooCommerce [both of which are FREE, by the way] you will need to find a web hosting provider on whose servers you will be hosting your website. In this case our Top 50 Speedy & Cheap Shared Hosting providers can help you evaluate your self-hosting options.
Other options, such as Shopify, Wix, Weebly, etc. don’t require a separate hosting provider as they host your website on their own servers. They are what is called Software-as-a-Service [or SaaS] solutions. This type of approach has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side it is a convenient, hassle-free way of launching your online store. You can literally launch your store within a couple of hours. No need to deal with selecting and signing up with a hosting provider, installing WordPress, downloading and activating WooCommerce, etc. On the negative side your store features will be limited by whatever functionality such SaaS companies provide. And if after your launch you discover you don’t like the platform or their customer support you cannot simply transfer your store to another hosting provider [something you can do with WordPress + WooCommerce]. So, you will have to re-build and launch your online store from scratch on another platform.