An E-commerce Merchant’s Guide to Bandwidth and Data Transfer
As you’re reviewing candidates to provide web hosting for your ecommerce store, you’re going to run into two terms repeatedly; bandwidth and data transfer. These factors play a significant role in how fast your site loads on a user’s device, regardless of the speed of their connection, or the endpoint through which they view it. To help you get a clearer understanding of these two terms and the role they play in your conversion rate, here’s an ecommerce merchant’s guide to bandwidth and data transfer.
Bandwidth vs. Data Transfer
It helps to think of bandwidth as a highway and data transfer as the number of cars on the highway. If you have seven lanes, you can get a lot more cars through in a given time period than you can with two lanes. When it comes to hosting your ecommerce site, bandwidth determines how much data transfer can be accommodated within a specific time period. The higher the bandwidth, the more traffic the server will support.
What This Means for Your Site
If you’re on a server with a lot of bandwidth, your site will also load more quickly because the host can accomplish higher rates of data transfer. This means more users can be on your site simultaneously. Further, it means your site will load quickly, which is crucial in ecommerce because most customers will only give you a maximum of about three seconds to load and be ready to go. If your site is slow, potential customers will bounce out of it and look for a site capable of loading more rapidly. Those will be lost conversion opportunities.
However, there is another consideration in play here. Most hosting providers offer plans based around data transfer. After you hit a certain volume each month, they will either slow your site down, or cut you off. This makes having a good idea of how much traffic your site will generate important when you’re setting it up.
Chief among the factors determining your data transfer rate are the number of pages your site has and the amount of data your ecommerce theme consumes. Templates offered by experienced companies like Shopify have been optimized for fast loading, even as they deliver all the features you need in an attractive design.
How Can You Plan Around This?
Most hosting services will ask you to estimate the amount of bandwidth you need. However, if you’re just starting out, this puts you in a chicken and egg situation. You won’t know exactly what you ‘ll need until you’ve been up and running to see what you get.
However, you do know what your sales targets are and you can estimate how much traffic you’ll need to hit them. This knowledge, plus an awareness of the overall size of your site, should enable you to deliver a reasonable forecast. Whatever that number turns out to be, bump it an additional 50 percent to give you room to grow and capacity for traffic spikes during promotional campaigns.
Pay close attention to the bandwidth hosting services allocate to your site in the various plans they offer. If you see an “unlimited” plan, know that’s a fallacy because there is no such thing as unlimited. They’ve estimated the average usage on their servers, allocated more than they think they will need and are counting on many of the sites to use less. With this ecommerce merchant’s guide to bandwidth and data transfer, you’ll be in a better position to know what you’ll need so you can make an informed decision.