This post was contributed by Robert Rand, Director of Partnerships & Alliances at JetRails.
While some think of Magento hosting as a simple infrastructure decision, Magento experts understand that the wrong hosting environment can make or break your eCommerce business.
Just like when hiring a Magento agency, you have to think about not just upfront costs, but what it will cost you in time, resources, and ultimately sales. When you select the cheapest solution, what seemed like an economical choice will often wind up costing you a lot more in the long run.
With that in mind, here are 9 issues that cause Magento merchants to wish they had selected a different web host:
Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, malware scanners, and a range of additional proactive and reactive security layers are crucial for Magento sites. Doubly so for sites that accept online payments and need to adhere to eCommerce PCI compliance standards. The cost of dealing with a Magento security breach can stifle or bankrupt your business. A good host will monitor and manage multiple layers of security at all times.
Impact: A security incident can force a shutdown of your online store, alienate your customers, and lead to fines, legal fees, and even a loss of the ability to accept online payments.
If you’re having a hosting issue with your Magento site, you don’t have days or weeks to wait around for a support technician with the skills and knowledge to help. Keep in mind that delays in hosting support are very likely to cost you sales, and possibly long-term customers. All Magento hosting issues should be treated as mission-critical, with phone and ticket support round-the-clock from well-trained experts.
Impact: Instead of focusing on growing your eCommerce business, you’re stuck chasing after support technicians that aren’t a match for your needs. Learn about the impact that finding the right Magento host had for MagicMurals.com
Whether consciously or subconsciously, online shoppers have extremely high expectations when it comes to the loading speed of your website. Every extra second of page loading time will hurt your conversion rates. It will also negatively impact your SEO rankings and downgrade the ranking scores that help determine the success of paid campaigns, such as through Google Ads.
Impact: According to Google’s own research, if you start with a loading speed of 1 second, and then retest the same page with a 5-second loading speed instead, bounce rates increase by 90%. Either your site is fast, or you’re losing sales.
What happens when your site experiences a traffic spike? Can your store handle bursts of traffic? If not, shoppers will experience the site slowing down or ultimately crashing. Your site should undergo Magento load testing to make sure that it’s ready for your peak eCommerce traffic events. If you experience large traffic spikes, you should also consider a hosting environment that scales horizontally and then bounces back with a truly elastic hosting architecture of a public cloud. A good host will learn about your historical traffic, seasonality, and other important metrics. They’ll be able to help you determine whether you’d be better off on bare-metal servers or a public cloud like AWS and recommend an appropriate hosting environment that will best serve your shoppers and your bottom line.
Impact: Every year stores go down during the holiday shopping season because their hosting is inadequate. In 2020, many eCommerce stores have seen large traffic increases at unexpected times due to pandemic shopping trends. Either you’re ready for more shoppers, or you’re not… and the cost of not being ready can cost you long-term customers.
Magento’s biggest strength is its flexibility. It makes you wonder why large hosting companies offer accounts that can’t support common Magento extensions and other customizations. A proper Magento host will be able to tailor and customize your hosting environment around your needs, not stifle your developers with unnecessary limitations and constraints. Hosting for highly custom sites was never meant to be rigid and inflexible.
Impact: Poorly designed hosting that won’t go beyond prefab “cookie-cutter” deployments will hold your site hostage to what’s easiest for the host, and waste a lot of time and effort on the part of your developers when it comes to trying to get extensions, integrations, and customizations to work.
What happens when you’re running low on hard disk space or some other resource? Or your site is experiencing a traffic spike? Or perhaps a recent site update is causing pages to error out rather than load properly? Or worse yet, you’re having a security incident? Yes, a lot can be done proactively, but in the real world, when there’s a problem, you don’t want to wait for your shoppers to be kind enough to alert you (or unkind enough to shout about it from the rooftops of their favorite social media platform). You want a team to have your back, round the clock.
Impact: If your site is in trouble, and your web host doesn’t know, they can’t mitigate the issue. Many hosts will wait for you to open a ticket to notify them hours or days too late to make a meaningful difference. There’s no way to turn back the clock on lost sales or bad experiences that your shoppers have endured.
7. Configuration and Optimization
Magento websites are not all the same. Each is a unique mix of theme files, extensions, and other customizations. Each has its own traffic patterns and intricacies. What works for a retail site that gets 10000 single-product orders each day, isn’t what works for a wholesale business that sells 100 orders a day with hundreds of products per order. If your hosting isn’t architected, tailored, configured, and optimized around your site, chances are that your hosting is both underperforming and causing you to spend more on web development to work around hosting issues.
Impact: Without the right configurations, caching, and optimization, you’re likely to be overpaying for hardware, experiencing errors, latency, or other negative impacts. If your host isn’t prepared to help size out the right environment and then provide Magento SysOps expertise proactively as part of their service, you can anticipate experiencing a lot of frustration and missed eCommerce sales opportunities.
8. Long-term Contracts
It’s no secret that hosting providers want you to lock in for long-term contracts. It helps them forecast needs for staffing, hardware, and so on. However, when you sign a 1-year, 2-year, or even 3-year contract with a vendor that you’ve never had host your site before, you’re basically eloping in Vegas on the first date because they had a great dating profile. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Until you know what it’s like to deploy your site in their hosting environment, or what it’s like to try to work with their support team, a long-term contract may be pre-emptive. Reputable hosts will give you a month-to-month option, and allow you to lock in a long-term discount once you’re ready.
Impact: When you take a risk like this, you’re rolling the dice. If you’re unhappy with your decision, you may find yourself either suffering, or selecting a better host while being forced to still pay out your old contract, really squeezing your budget.
This tactic is prevalent with less scrupulous web development agencies and software publishers. They combine under-supported or under-performing web hosting with their contracts to beef up their sales numbers. In many cases, they won’t break out the costs for you unless you really go to the mats over it. If they aren’t learning about your traffic stats and your needs, offering a competitive support SLA, and addressing the other items discussed in this article, you aren’t getting a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐host. When vendors start taking away your choices, you’re losing the benefits of the open-source market. You’re instead being given a “free toaster” that’s not really free. Don’t be fooled – good, great, and amazing hosting solutions have costs associated with them. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Impact: Just like with long-term contracts, if you’ve signed an agreement that includes hosting and you’re unhappy with the solution that a trusted company pushed on you, you may have a hard time renegotiating that contract. Hopefully, your contract will give you the right to take your site to another host of your choosing, but you may find that you’re paying for hosting as part of a bundle, and paying for it from a company that’s laser-focused on web hosting. Otherwise, you can wind up paying more due to a variety of the issues that you’ve read about here today.
To Sum Up
There are times to be adventurous. None of those intersect with choosing a Magento web host. It’s not about big brand names, sponsorships, or marketing. It’s about what a hosting team can do for you, and their track record of success.
Want to talk to a web host with a culture that’s focused on your success as Magento merchants? The JetRails team helps businesses like yours achieve stability and growth day in and day out. Reach out to learn more about truly mission-critical Magento hosting.
About the Author:
Robert Rand is the Director of Partnerships & Alliances at JetRails, a mission-critical ecommerce hosting service. Robert has over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound ecommerce and digital marketing strategies, assisting organizations of all types and sizes to grow and succeed via digital commerce. Robert is an Adobe Certified Expert in Magento, a frequent author and thought contributor in the ecommerce industry and the host of The JetRails Podcast.