WordPress has long established itself as the premier blogging software but thanks to a large repository of plugins and themes, you can easily deploy just about any manner of website with WordPress. More impressively still, you can have a functioning website configured and live in almost no time at all, even if all you have is a passing familiarity with web hosting.
WooCommerce is yet another extension of WordPress which allows you to setup and deploy a fully featured e-commerce platform. Unlike most other extensions and plugins, WooCommerce is developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. As a result, integrating any number of other WordPress plugins with WooCommerce is a breeze, which further explains WooCommerce’s popularity not just with small enterprises but also large and established brands.
As it’s developed to work with WordPress, you can easily deploy any of the thousands of WordPress plugins to customise the look and feel of your e-commerce platform, or address any other area such as marketing, sales, analytics, etc.
Even apart from that, there are a whole host of themes and plugins aimed exclusively at WooCommerce. Although WooCommerce itself is released for free, and there are no restrictions on how you use the software on your website, some of its themes and extensions which provide additional useful functionality are developed by third parties, and offered at a premium. While free themes and plugins still rule the roost, there are plenty of themes that cost upwards of $30 each. You can similarly expect to shell out hundreds of dollars for some niche extensions.
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What are the best WooCommerce hosting providers?
Hosting providers offer a variety of services that help you get your business online. While the conventional approach is to register a domain name, and buy a hosting plan, there are many hosting providers which offer WooCommerce hosting.
If you’ve already decided on WooCommerce as the software to drive your e-commerce platform, opting for a specialised hosting plan is the only sensible decision. This is because in addition to troubleshooting and help, these hosting providers also provide various additional services so that you can devote all your energies towards growing your business.
At a minimum, the hosting providers will offer a domain name, storage space, perform backups, SSL certificates, and more. The exact range of offerings will depend on the plan you opt for, and your ideal plan will depend on various factors such as the total number of monthly visitors, the number of products on offer, etc.
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At $6.99/month, SiteGround’s StartUp plan is one of the cheapest WooCommerce hosting options available today. Expectedly, the plan has various restrictions. For instance, you are restricted to only a single website, 10 GB of storage space, and 10,000 monthly visitors. If you are an established e-commerce platform looking to switch hosting providers, or expect your business to quickly outgrow these limitations, you should consider one of their other plans.
The GrowBig plan limits storage to 20 GB, with a cap of 25,000 monthly visitors. Currently available for a discounted price of $14.99/month, the GoGeek plan allows for 100,000 monthly visitors but only 40 GB storage.
For each plan, SiteGround offers a host of freebies. For instance, in addition to installing WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin, the Storefront theme is offered out of the box. Security is another strong suit, with its own AI designed to safeguard your online platform from attacks. SSL certificates, email, etc. are also offered for free with each plan.
With the low barrier of entry, coupled with the myriad free offerings, SiteGround has positioned itself for new and small businesses looking to build an online platform with WooCommerce.
In addition to providing a robust service, SiteGround also boasts of 24/7 customer support, which can be over phone or live chat and you can even opt for ticket-based email support. While the response time is near instantaneous in the case of phone and live chat, for emails, the hosting provider strives to respond within 10 minutes.
Another hosting provider which offers affordable WooCommerce hosting is Bluehost. The two plans on offer, Standard and Premium can also be availed for as little as $12.95/mo and $24.95/mo if you opt for a 36 month plan. Also available are plans for 1 or 12 months, but the costs go up with the decreasing term period.
In addition to all the common features such as the ability to set up a blog and e-commerce store, 24/7 support, Storefront theme, etc., Bluehost also offers website traffic analytics. This provides real time data on performance of your store, with reports on site traffic, trends and orders. You can also add Office 365 to your Bluehost plan. A 30-day trial is available with both Standard and Premium plans. Should you require assistance or hand holding, Bluehost offers support over phone or live chat.
For any website, safety and backup are paramount. This is an area where the Premium plan is far better placed than the Standard option because the latter only includes free backup for the first year. Bluehost offers various CodeGuard plans, ranging from $32.95 to $239.95 annually. These plans allow monitoring your data for changes, and reverting the website to a previously stored state with a single click. The cheapest plan however only provides 1 GB of storage space, making it meaningless for established stores, or data-rich websites.
But this isn’t a major concern for new store owners, who also benefit from Bluehost’s collection of tutorials. In addition to creating or setting your store, the tutorials span a range of topics including proper configuration and optimum usage of tools such as SEO, email marketing, etc. to ensure maximum reach for your online store.
A2 Hosting doesn’t offer WooCommerce out of the box. Instead, it’s WordPress hosting plans include 1-click installs of various apps and services including WooCommerce. Although the process is straightforward and easy enough, you’ll have to set up the theme and other aspects of the WooCommerce installation yourself.
The cheapest plan includes 100 GB SSD storage, while the other plans boast of unlimited NVMe storage. Couple this with free migration of your existing site, and A2 Hosting makes sense for established businesses looking to switch hosting providers in search of optimum performance.
With 24/7 support over email, chat and phone, A2 Hosting has a sharp focus on providing the best user experience to its customers. As the focus is on speed and performance, A2Hosting also lets you choose the server location. You can choose the server closest to you on the order form itself, and the options are Michigan and Arizona in the USA, Amsterdam in Europe and Singapore in Asia.
The ability to handle traffic spikes is a key factor in deciding the hosting provider. You can get peace of mind with the Turbo plans, which also include Litespeed Web Server. The result is a site far faster than those powered by Apache or Nginx.
Each plan also includes various security features such as reinforced DDoS protection, two-factor authentication, virus scanning, server hardening, dual firewall, bruteforce defence, etc. But the one area where the hosting provider lags is physical RAM and CPU cores, offering only 2 cores and 4 GB RAM in the costliest plan, while the cheapest plan only includes 700 MB RAM and a single core.
Liquid Web suffered from many missteps, such as too steep prices and a low cap on monthly transactions, when it first started providing hosting services. Thankfully, it has since sorted things and now offers competitive plans.
But what sets it apart from other WooCommerce or WordPress hosting providers is the vast number of WooCommerce specific features on offer. For instance, Liquid Web provides Astra Pro, which it claims is the faster e-commerce theme. Similarly, it gives a lot of focus on ensuring mobile optimized websites.
At $12.67/mo, the cheapest plan includes 30 GB storage space and 3 TB bandwidth, but there’s a cap of maximum 500 transactions per hour. The costliest plan is offered at $667/mo and comes with 800 GB storage and 10 TB bandwidth.
Liquid Web also offers a number of premium features with each plan, but there’s no description of these on its website. The Startup plan only includes 10 premium features, but the Growth plan, for instance, offers 21. It’s difficult to choose between the different plans, based on what’s offered, in the absence of detailed description of services offered.
The more expensive plans are obviously geared for established businesses with thousands of hourly transactions, but these are quite expensive. More so when you consider that you are expected to pay upfront for the annual subscription.
WordPress itself recommends WP Engine for large stores. While this doesn’t mean that small businesses or novice store owners can’t use WP Engine, you’re unlikely to appreciate its offerings, when compared to its pricing, if you are just starting out.
All plans include features that will help you deliver quality experience to visitors. These include a curated list of tested and recommended e-commerce plugins, a CDN, optimized caching, etc. All these and more features are geared towards delivering a fast experience. With the exception of the Starter plan, which will set you back by $24/mo, all plans also include Elasticsearch, which is a powerful store search utility, and delivers near instantaneous results. This is especially useful for stores with a vast collection of products and options on offer.
The Starter plan wouldn’t appeal to many established stores because of its low limits. For instance, it restricts you to 25,000 visitors per month and only provides 10 GB storage space and 50 GB bandwidth. At $233/month, the Scale plan too only provides 50 GB storage and 500 GB monthly bandwidth, apart from capping monthly visitors to 400,000.
If these hard limits are insufficient for your needs, WP Engine also offers customised hosting solutions based on your needs. The exact cost of such a plan will depend on your needs, but you’ll get dedicated high-availability architecture which guarantees 99.99% uptime, dedicated support and technical success manager to help you make the right changes and decisions to meet your business goals, etc.
WP Engine provides 24/7/365 support via multiple channels, including live chat, phone, and email, and you can even talk to a specialist if you are unsure which hosting plan best suits your needs.
Why use WooCommerce?
You can use WooCommerce to create beautiful and enticing store fronts for your online enterprise. There’s a large selection of themes that you can use, spread across different industries. It’s also quite easy and straightforward to customise a WooCommerce theme so that you can create a memorable and unique look for your e-commerce platform.
It also boasts of all the features you would expect from a store, such as support for physical or digital products, and you can add more features such as memberships, subscriptions, dynamic pricing, etc. using extensions. If you do decide to offer memberships, you will also be able to create specialised content or a membership area for your online store.
Safe and secure payments is a major concern for users as well as businesses. WooCommerce supports PayPal and Stripe out of the box, and you can also deploy add-ons to accept payments through various other payment gateways such as cards, bank transfers, mobile wallets, etc. Depending on your location and requirements, you’ll also be able to offer support for payment through some regional payment gateways, again thanks to the many different add-ons on offer.
Cart abandonment is one of the worst problems for every online store owner. This occurs when customers add products to the cart but abandon the site before completing checkout. Online stores lose out more than 60 percent of sales due to cart abandonment. That’s nearly two-thirds of your sales just washing away. One of the most effective ways to decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate is with an email recovery campaign. You’ll find cart abandonment plugins, some available for free, that you can use with WooCommerce to address this major concern.
What makes WooCommerce different?
A store is only as good as the products it offers. In addition to offering the choice of physical or digital products, WooCommerce also supports adding options such as size, colours, regular/sale price, etc. to each product. Depending on how you wish to configure the appearance, you can also configure your WooCommerce store to display a list of similar products to visitors.
Even better, there’s no limit on the number of products and options you can offer on your WooCommerce store. The only limitation is your hosting provider, which needs to be able to handle the daily traffic and process the influx of orders.
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