Shopping for the Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business, Enterprise & More
As shoppers, we often pay no mind to the technical foundations of the best ecommerce hosting – a hosting service that allows us to experience our favorite stores virtually.
We expect to be able to browse shoe selections without stepping foot in a store. We’ve grown accustomed to scoping out gifts for others and letting PayPal handle the rest.
For some people, online shopping is embedded in our everyday lives. For store owners, taking a business online can unlock new revenue opportunities and expand brand reach – but they need ecommerce hosting to do that.
Configuring a payment gateway, shipping, and order tracking can be rather intimidating, but the best ecommerce host can connect you with all the tools you’ll need to succeed.
Whether you’re looking for business-ready shared hosting or a high-powered WooCommerce hosting plan, we tested the top companies and how they empower entrepreneurs to reach customers – whether they’re on their couch or a continent away.
4 Features For Building the Best Ecommerce Sites
Naturally, the best ecommerce solution makes building an online store simple and cost-effective. The top hosting provider for ecommerce recognizes your business needs and is ready to help you market and profit from your products or services.
Online retailers in the U.S. alone made more than $322 billion in sales in 2016, and those profits only continue to grow. To capitalize on this trend, you need a hosting company that delivers top-notch speed, security, and user-friendly systems.
Let’s cover the top features we look for when evaluating this niche hosting solution:
1. Product Displays and Easy Management
First thing’s first: You need to prominently display your products. After all, an online store without stuff to buy is just a website. We consider the best hosts in this market to be the ones that help you display, market, and maintain an inventory of the products in your warehouse.
You’ll want a web hosting provider that accommodates the number of items you plan on marketing, including any item-specific features your potential customers may want. Will you have digital files like audio or documents available for download?
What about integrating with your brick-and-mortar location? Often, the best e commerce hosting is a full-service platform that covers point-of-sale devices and business-wide inventory, shipping, and order tracking data.
That starts with ample storage space, obviously, but make sure the online store software enables you to list sizing options, color choices, and quantity counts, for example.
2. Payment Processing Options
Whether you just want to throw a dozen hand-painted coffee mugs up on a page or you’re taking advantage of an unlimited product display package, you’ll want an easy means of accepting payment for your items.
The top ecommerce hosts partner with leading payment processors, like PayPal or Stripe, to streamline this step in the transaction process for you and your customers.
As you might imagine, security is paramount when dealing with a customer’s financial information. Almost 6,000 online stores faced malware attacks in 2016, and any sort of breach can have disastrous effects on your brand. Looking for a shared hosting service that comes with a free SSL certificate is a good, cost-effective, start.
3. SEO and Marketing Tools
Strong advertising can be a driving force behind a brick-and-mortar’s incoming foot traffic, and an online shop is no exception to the marketing rule of thumb. If you want to attract shoppers, you need search engine results to be on your side.
The best hosts for an ecommerce store are ones that give you a head start on marketing and SEO with free search marketing credits. Many providers include free tools to help you optimize your online store to appear higher in Google, Bing, or Yahoo! search results.
4. Free Website Builder Included
We’re saving perhaps the most important detail for last: You want a quality, easy-to-use website builder with your ecommerce app hosting package.
Business owners, especially those with younger companies or less startup capital, don’t necessarily have experience in web design or coding, and they likely don’t have the time to learn. They want their online store to reflect the professionalism of their brand but don’t necessarily have the technical chops to make it happen themselves or the funds to invest in hiring a developer.
Look for hosts with free site builders geared toward creating an e commerce website, and you’ll be golden. Spend time on your business initiatives, not HTML.
Most Popular Ecommerce Platforms
You don’t have to be a web hosting service savant to have heard some of the foremost names in ecommerce hosting. Let’s see how some of the web’s most popular brand names in online store building stack up in our experts’ eyes.
Shopify – the brand name screams ecommerce. The leading ecommerce platform hits the mark on all the features we discussed above: hundreds of themes for easy design, multiple transaction processing options, and customization that can be done via a drag-and-drop editor or the Shopify API.
To be clear: This is a full-fledged, fully hosted online store builder and management platform, and the pricing reflects the breadth of ecommerce functionalities it includes. This may be a financial bummer for folks who are preparing to launch an online business, but Shopify includes a 14-day trial to give business owners the chance to see if the investment is worthwhile.
Next up, there’s Wix, a world leader in WYSIWYG website design. This builder is known for industry-specific templates, code-free customization, and an inexpensive experience overall for building basic websites. You’re not going to get as dynamic or complex a site as you might with a more robust platform, but Wix is ideal for solopreneurs, freelance tradesmen, and small businesses that just need to get a foot in the door.
Rounding out our trio of hosted ecommerce platform, Volusion is another ecommerce specialist that simplifies design and business operations. The platform features an unlimited number of products and storage from the start, with no transaction fees and online support standard, as well. Upgraded features include abandoned cart reports and help with graphic design, email marketing setup, and other consultative services to help your business grow.
Best Ecommerce Hosting Overall
The results are in: After reviewing the best ecommerce services on the web, our experts have whittled the list down to the crème de la crème of ecommerce hosts. Hands down, the best hosts for the job complement low-cost service with ecommerce-ready functionality.
The ecommerce hosts we love provide one-click installations for popular online store building software like Magento or PrestaShop. They throw in free paid advertising credits, and they’re available 24/7 to help you grow your online business.
Best Ecommerce Solutions for Small Business: SiteGround
Small- to medium-sized business owners have many financial, logistical, and staffing considerations in mind when evaluating potential web hosts for their business.
Keeping cost and maintenance requirements for their customers top of mind, SiteGround provides the best value for small businesses to build, customize, and grow an online presence.
In addition to generous storage space and unmetered traffic, SiteGround gives customers an SSL certificate and daily backups for added security.
Best Ecommerce Software for Enterprise
For business-class hardware, look no further than InMotion Hosting. With SSD-powered dedicated hosting and virtual private servers, InMotion Hosting packs power and performance into an e commerce hosting solution at a price that will align with your growing business’s goals.
The hosting company is one of our favorites when it comes to managed WordPress services, making them an ideal choice for those looking to create a WooCommerce store.
What’s more, the company’s team is heavily invested in network monitoring and building out security features.
Best Ecommerce Website Builders
Once again, we’ve saved the e commerce site builder fun for last! We paid special attention to the site design and customization features of our favorite hosts’ e commerce platform. Several hosts deserve special recognition for making robust, intuitive site builders a standard in their plans.
Leading the charge, iPage packages a custom site builder in all of its hosting plans, so customers can point and click to update and customize their online store sans coding. Meanwhile, A2 Hosting enables users to quickly build an online store equipped for sales. Customers can market and optimize sites for success with more than 80 software options.
Last, but most certainly not least, the InMotion Hosting team custom-built an incredible site builder that sits atop WordPress. The BoldGrid site builder was so well received, BoldGrid became its own brand and now partners with other hosting providers to evangelize the standards for intuitive site building with WordPress.
Ready for Sales? Read Our Ecommerce Web Hosting Reviews to Get Started
By now, you should feel much more prepared to pull the trigger on an ecommerce hosting plan after skimming through our reviews and extra information.
Whether you need a shared hosting plan or a dedicated server, rest easy knowing your online store is a safe place for your customers to shop.
By learning about the technology powering an e commerce store, both consumers and entrepreneurs can help build more effective stores and shopping experiences. Now go out and find the deals!