Congratulations on launching an amazing eCommerce website! Building a competitive digital store is no easy feat. Now, how do you manage to keep your online store performing reliably as a cornerstone of your brand?
If it were a car or a house, you’d plan all sorts of preventative work and check-ins to make sure your investment was well-positioned to continue to perform well. In the world of eCommerce, we focus on 3 M’s: Maintenance, Management, and Monitoring, but you’re not crazy, we promised you 5 S’s, so with no further ado, here are the top 5 concerns that every eCommerce store owner should address proactively:
Nothing can damage your brand quite like a security breach. It’s crucial to follow best practices regardless of which eCommerce platform you’re using. However, if you’re on an open-source platform like Magento, or if you have a headless commerce website that leverages a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, you’ll need to make sure that both your website and your hosting environment stay patched and up-to-date. You may also consider deploying additional systems, such as a CDN and WAF and a 2 Factor Authentication system to help protect your website. When in doubt, opt for an eCommerce security audit to make sure that you’re doing your part to protect your business.
While the volume of visitors that your website handles on an average day may not be a problem, traffic spikes can be an entirely different experience. Whether your peak traffic events are caused by holidays, marketing campaigns, or other media events, your website must perform effectively when shoppers are streaming onto your store.
Luckily, your web host can load test your site to make sure it’s capable of handling your anticipated bursts of traffic. In some cases, your host may recommend adding some temporary booster servers, such as if your increased traffic is seasonal. In other cases, you may opt for a truly elastic hosting environment, such as a managed AWS hosting account, which can scale horizontally and vertically.
Whether you choose bare metal servers or a cloud hosting account, don’t think that your website is ready for your peak traffic, test your site, and know that it’s ready.
You should have vendors that treat your eCommerce website as the mission-critical application that it is. Your web host should be available to reach by phone and ticket 24/7/365, with response times measured in minutes. Likewise, your web developers and web host should be working closely together to proactively update and maintain your website and hosting environment. Above and beyond preventative measures, a good web host will also monitor your website for anomalies and issues, such as DDoS attack, so that they can address issues from the onset.
Mobile eCommerce traffic, sales, and revenue continue to climb steadily. Given that shoppers on mobile devices don’t always have the strongest internet connections, speed issues are amplified. At the same time, loading speeds have been consistently correlated with eCommerce conversion rates and marketing success.
You can test your eCommerce site’s Time To First Byte (TTFB) as well as running general speed tests, such as from GTMetrix. Magento users can proactively leverage advanced technology like Varnish and Cloudflare to speed up your loading times. EY Studios and your web host can also work together to fine-tune lots of additional settings and configurations to improve your site speed.
The last 4 S’s will go a long way to providing you with a stable experience, however, your developers and host can advise you on other important factors. For example, eCommerce website are best maintained in a single-tenant environment, where you’re not sharing resources with other websites being hosted in the same server or cloud instance.
Similarly, you should ideally have a development server where changes are made to your site, a staging environment that mirrors your live website hosting account for testing, and finally your live production environment that’s accessible to shoppers. This ensures that you can undergo proper user acceptance testing (UAT) before code is pushed out to your live server.
A common theme that you’ve undoubtedly noticed when reviewing these 5 S’s is that they require more than just technology. They require people to be standing behind you and your business, helping you to follow best-practices and stay a step ahead of potential problems and issues. More than that, they require your team and your vendors to be communicating effectively and supporting each other.
About the Author
Robert Rand, Head of Partnerships, JetRails
JetRails provides fully-managed mission-critical web hosting for eCommerce merchants on highly-optimized dedicated servers, clusters, AWS cloud environments. Together with our proactive hosting maintenance, management and monitoring, we’re a perfect solution for businesses that need a host they can rely on 24/7/365 for consistent support and results.
To learn more about maintaining a reliable eCommerce store or for more information on JetRails, call us at 678-402-6378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.