I assume I don’t need to talk in this article about what the Corona virus is – it’s sparked a panic around the world as a potential plague like disease – but in all manners of events – no matter how bad – there is always a silver lining for someone.
My client sold face masks.
Let’s just say – when I say that his business exploded that would be an understatement. Long story short not only did his online store explode but he also took the opportunity to advertise on Instagram in various Asian countries – and soon his store was basically printing money (you may have an issue with this morally – I am only the messenger).
The unfortunate thing is his (crappy) server balked under the pressure – and soon it was up to me to come in and fix some of the problems – while I had worked with the client for a while we didn’t have an active relationship – however he needed my help and quickly.
So we had to deal with a problem that for many e-commerce stores sounds more like a dream – what to do when your online store is so busy making money that your server is incapable of handling the load?
So – as I worked to fix these issues I (admittedly) – made some mistakes – and I hope the person reading this will learn from them should these issues happen to you.
So your server is balking under the load of your store and you need to vacate ship – here are 5 mistakes you need to avoid – including ones you should have known before going to the crappy server in the first place.
Let’s get started.
Mistake #1 – No Chat Support, No Can Do
The first mistake is having a crappy host to begin with. For the record I wasn’t the one that chose the host for my client – and I really shouldn’t say the host’s name… but let’s say it rhymes with Bet Registry… anyway when it comes to choosing a host – choosing the wrong host can create huge nightmares.
Many people – when deciding on a host look at things like how fast the servers are, what the CPU power is, how many concurrent visitors there are on a website.
For me – this is the last thing on my mind.
Instead I do one thing – very simply. I call the host’s support phone number and see who answers the phone. Do they have a thick overseas/outsourced accent? To me that’s the first give away that the host is cutting corners – hosts that outsource their support staff are usually cutting corners in other areas too.
The other is chat support. Simply put if a host doesn’t have chat support – and they expect you to create online tickets they don’t care about you as a client – that speaks volumes.
‘Bet’ Registry didn’t have chat support, their online tickets were major slow (think literally 3 days to get a response) – and their phone support was horrendous – with people with thick accents that you could barely understand telling my client that the issue was with the website – and not their crappy host plan.
Mistake #2 – Trusting Auto Migrators
So after upgrading the crappy server and seeing no improvement (and of course the server blaming our site – which crappy servers tend to do when they have no solution and want to save face) – I knew we had to move server.
Now this is not a dig at SiteGround – I love SiteGround as a host – but no one is perfect. SiteGround has a popular tool that allows you to migrate your WooCommerce/Wordpress site to their server. You simply install their plugin on your current site – enter in a special code and they transfer the entire site to their server.
Which is what I did – only to find out the next day – once the new nameservers on my client’s domain propagated – that the site migrator failed – it had not put over any of the plugins – the client informed me in the morning about it – and I had to do the transfer manually.
What did I learn from this?
Don’t trust any migrating site plugins – do it yourself. Download the database and files – and move them over.
One especially glaring issue is if you migrate your site to the new servers – and the preview URL which is sent doesn’t work. Since the domain’s name servers hadn’t propagated yet I wasn’t able to see what the site looked like – and the preview URL didn’t work.
Long story short – when it comes to moving a site – get in there dirty and do it yourself – because when you trust a server’s migration tools – no matter how good the server is – something may fail.
Mistake #3 – Your Data Will Become Mangled, Accept It
If you are migrating a WooCommerce store from one server to another – you are going to have mangled data – this is something you just have to accept – especially if you have a popular store.
Let me explain.
Let’s say you’re getting a new order every 5 minutes (red hot server) – and you need to move your site as the server keeps crashing. If you move your site over to a new server and then update the name servers – it will take 3-4 hours for the domain to point to the new server. In those 4 hours you’re going to get another 50-100 orders – and when the domain finally points to your new name servers those orders are going to be stuck on the old site. So now you will have mangled data – with 2 sets of the same order.
This is going to happen – just accept it.
To get around this I exported and uploaded the old site with the orders that weren’t moved over to my server and exported those orders using WP All Export and sent those to the client to organize the packing.
It kind of sucked that certain orders had the same order # but life (and business) is not always perfect – and that’s ok.
Mistake #4 – Getting a 9-5 Drone instead of a Trusty Developer
This is difficult to find but having a developer that’s really in your corner and will help me through your growth spurts is very important.
My client’s store was pulling $700 per hour – which means that every hour the site is down the client is losing about $210 (client is operating at approximately 30% margin).
Many people go with an e-commerce company that assigns them a 9-5 drone that works on their project – this is all well and good… until sh*t hits the fan. And you try to get a hold of the developer and find out that he’s out at a dirt rally track or mountain climbing and won’t be back until Monday.
When it comes to web developers you need someone in your corner – that understands your business and that you talk to directly.
This issue happened on Friday and I had to work on it on that day and Saturday morning – if the client wasn’t able to reach me and I had been a simple drone ina company he would have had to wait until Monday for urgent support.
There are a lot of other reasons you want to go with a one on one developer – but this is a big one when it comes to your eCommerce store blowing up.
Mistake #5 – Don’t Let Your Server Convince You That You’re the Problem
Whenever a host is confronted with an issue about your website and all they can respond with is “there is something wrong with your site” without actually investigating further about what is wrong – 9 times out of 10 – I’ve found – the problem is with the host or a server setting.
Since many servers of my clients try this trick these days I’ve had to resort to a simple solution – basically I take the client’s site and move it to my server – then I tell the crappy server to go look at my server and look at their server.
In the end though – if you’re with a host that just wants to shift blame around without giving any concrete answers then your best bet is to cut ties – and don’t let incompetent people convince you that you’re the problem.
The “the issue is with your site, we can’t say what it is but that is all” is a cop out – and it’s the sign of a bad host who doesn’t care about you. Period.
So that’s my story – eventually I moved my client to SiteGround’s e-commerce hosting and we’ve been happy ever since – there are about 2,000 visitors coming from paid sources. One of the biggest frustrations for myself is dealing with a horrible host who is unable and unwilling to help you. As you can see most of the mistakes above relate to hosting issues. Make sure you pick the right host – I’m not affiliated with any particular host but I have had very good experience with SiteGround.
Good luck and hopefully soon you will have a similar problem to what my client had with your own e-commerce store! And hopefully this guide will be of some assistance.