The goal of most websites — especially e-commerce stores — is growth. A stronger online presence leads to more visibility and increased revenue, so it’s worth pursuing. Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to build a scalable e-commerce store when you’re first getting started, you may unknowingly limit your ability to grow down the line.
That’s why it’s important to choose a website-building platform, hosting provider, and e-commerce solution that have proven their ability to scale up and handle expansive online stores. By putting together the right combination of tools and services, you can set your site up for long-term success.
In this article, we’ll explain what it means to create a scalable site, and why it’s important for your online store. Then we’ll provide some guidelines on how to build a scalable e-commerce shop with WordPress.
The Importance of Building a Scalable E-Commerce Site
A scalable website is one that’s set up to easily expand over time, and accommodate higher traffic levels and more content. Creating this kind of website requires you to build it using “scalable architecture.” This involves using tools to create your website that have the ability to scale indefinitely.
When it comes to e-commerce stores, this strategy is important for a few reasons. First, a scalable store ensures that you can continue adding new products over time. Depending on what you sell, you may eventually end up with hundreds or even thousands of products, and you’ll have to be able to store all that data.
You’ll also need to handle data about your customers, such as their credit card numbers, shipping addresses, and other personal information. Your site’s database will have to expand to hold all of that data as well (and store it safely).
Finally, your site needs to be able to accommodate high levels of traffic, as well as sudden traffic spikes. If your server isn’t prepared for a sudden influx of customers, your site could slow down or even crash. Either of these situations would likely result in a loss of sales and revenue.
While a site crash would prevent customers from even viewing your products, a slow site can be just as problematic. Users don’t like to wait around for pages to load, and slow loading times have been shown to increase bounce rates and page abandonment. Scalable architecture, on the other hand, will keep your site running fast and smooth no matter how many visitors it’s handling at one time.
How to Build a Scalable E-Commerce Store (In 3 Steps)
As we mentioned already, creating a scalable site is all about choosing the right services and tools. In these three steps, we’ll show you what qualities to look for in your website-building platform, hosting provider, and e-commerce solution.
Step 1: Choose WordPress as Your E-Commerce Platform
The first thing you’ll need to decide is which platform you should use for your e-commerce store. We highly recommend WordPress, for a number of reasons. For example, the community offers a number of e-commerce plugins you can use to turn your site into an online store. Of course, they vary in quality, but there are 38 pages worth of e-commerce plugins to choose from.
Most importantly, WordPress as a platform scales well. This is key to ensuring that large-scale sites maintain high-performance ratings. Slow e-commerce sites can lead to prevalent cart abandonment, so keeping your page speeds up is a must.
You can even enhance WordPress’ scalability through the use of plugins. With WP Super Cache or another caching plugin, you can store static copies of your store’s pages, which can be displayed to customers in order to improve loading times. Similarly, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Cloudflare can enhance your site’s speeds all around the globe. It’s worth mentioning, Pagely customers get access to PressCACHE and PressCDN, our proprietary versions of tech that handle speed optimization.
In addition, plugins such as Query Monitor make it easy to keep an eye on your e-commerce site’s database queries and debug them if necessary. This ensures that you’re notified of various issues that could slow your site, and enable you or your developer to fix them quickly.
WordPress has proven that it can scale up and power massive websites without sacrificing speed or security. It’s been used as the foundation for plenty of high-traffic websites, including The New Yorker, BBC America, and even Disney: In other words, it offers more than enough power to support an e-commerce store of almost any size.
Step 2: Select a Hosting Provider With Scalable & Flexible Plans
Most new e-commerce site owners fail to realize how much of an impact your choice of hosting provider can have. Some providers have server limits that put a cap on the amount of traffic your site can handle at one time, for example. Likewise, shared servers often can’t manage extreme traffic levels, because they’re used by multiple websites at once.
Hosting providers can offer scalability through a variety of features. Here at Pagely, we accommodate large sites really well with our High Availability plan. This plan uses server clusters to spread out the workload required to serve thousands of visitors at once.
Additionally, having access to a flexible hosting solution means you can tailor your hosting to fit your precise needs. Importance with flexibility cannot be overstated enough when it comes to hosting — many hosts have strict plan limitation that box you into only one option. With e-commerce, and scaling, things can change really fast and your host should be able to accommodate those changes just as quickly.
Step 3: Pick a Fully-Scalable E-Commerce Tool
Last but not least, you’ll need an e-commerce tool that works alongside WordPress. The platform doesn’t offer e-commerce functionality by default, so this is a necessity. You’ll also require a tool that enables you to store all the necessary data on your products and customers, no matter how many that might include.
WordPress e-commerce solutions vary widely in size and focus. For a scalable option, you can look to BigCommerce.
This e-commerce service includes a scalable catalog for all of your products and can be paired with your site via BigCommerce’s WordPress plugin. This combination brings together scalable WordPress content with headless e-commerce architecture, to ensure optimal performance.
By separating your e-commerce functionality from your WordPress site (that’s what we mean by ‘headless’), BigCommerce takes the strain of your online store off your website. This helps keep your site’s performance up, making it easier for customers to browse and purchase your products. It’s also very handy if you run a store alongside a blog or other resources.
Furthermore, BigCommerce is easy to integrate with WordPress. All you’ll need is the plugin and a BigCommerce account. The service’s plans start at $29.95 per month, and there’s a free trial you can use to test it out. Once your account is connected to your site, you’ll be ready to start building your online store.
Start Scaling Your E-Commerce
Creating a scalable e-commerce store is vital if you want your site to keep up with your business as it grows. By choosing the right platforms and services to build your storefront, you can prevent poor performance and downtime caused by large volumes of data and traffic.
To build a scalable e-commerce store, you can follow these three steps:
- Choose WordPress as your e-commerce platform.
- Select a hosting provider with scalable plans.
- Pick a fully scalable e-commerce tool.
Do you have any questions about building a scalable e-commerce site? Ask them in the comments section below!