As the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have taken their toll on myriad sectors and industries across the globe, small and medium-sized businesses have been forced to adopt innovative strategies and tactics in order to survive what has proven to be a challenging commercial environment.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have chosen to do everything from creating an online presence for the first time and taking steps to expand product ranges to integrating new shipping and payment processes into their existing operations. These additional features can impact site performance and over the last few months, many businesses with websites using basic web hosting plans have reported their digital presence becoming somewhat sluggish.

Although lockdown measures are beginning to ease in many places, it is unlikely that the business landscape will ever completely revert to its pre-pandemic form. Many industry experts suggest that businesses wanting to secure success in the future will need to deliver an omnichannel experience, within which a robust and reliable digital presence must form an essential component.

The Post-Lockdown OmniChannel Experience

Research [1] conducted by Small Business Britain has revealed that 45% of small businesses based in the North West of England opted to move at least part of their operation online due to COVID-19. Moving forwards, a further 44% of these newly-online businesses were found to be planning for less face to face customer contact and 37% stated that focusing on their digital strategy would remain a priority, even as lockdown measures are eased.

Businesses with an already established online presence are implementing strategies that will help them to deliver a high touch experience, which is usually only found within physical retail. In-store staff work hard to advise customers and implement advanced merchandising strategies that the online experience cannot directly replicate. This means that digital teams must work hard to offer a range of similar experiences including expert tutorials, the prioritising of product education and working to build a sense of community in the digital space.

The Need for Speed

Internet users have become accustomed to being able to locate the specific information they are looking for quickly and efficiently. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that page loading times [2] play a significant role in the high page abandonment percentages that slow websites will generally experience. Page loading times are also a ranking factor used by the major search engines [3], so if you want your website to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs) then ensuring your site is optimised for speed is an important ranking metric.

Importantly, there are a variety of techniques you can employ to ensure your website loads efficiently. These include making sure that all video content and imagery is optimised correctly and that tools that mean your site will only load the largest components as users scroll down and come across them are utilised.

The Benefits of a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

If your server isn’t set up to deliver efficient speeds, however, then no amount of optimisation will truly deliver the seamless experience your customers are looking for.

With shared hosting, important resources including disk space and RAM, must be shared by multiple customers. Conversely, with dedicated server hosting, a single customer will have exclusive access to a server and its resources, meaning they can configure it in the way that works best for their needs.

A VPS occupies the central ground between shared and dedicated server hosting. With a VPS, a server is divided into several different virtual machines that operate independently. A VPS can either take the form of a single server, which will form part of a physical machine, or a cloud VPS, which is spread across several different physical servers forming a local cloud. As they are not limited to a single physical server, a cloud VPS is ideal for businesses looking for a scalable option.

A website will often perform better when it is hosted on a VPS because it has access to its own set of private resources. As a VPS runs independently of other servers, it will also be more reliable because it will be immune to problems affecting other servers. There are myriad other benefits to investing in a VPS including the additional security services that come with most packages and the option to have your server managed by a professional team, which will ensure you won’t have to spend valuable time conducting server maintenance and admin.

It is important to select the right VPS provider for your needs. but with the right package in place you can feel assured that your website will continue to run smoothly and efficiently, thereby delivering the user experience (UX) your customers deserve.

[1] https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/special-features/head-start-transition-back-work-18389615

[2] https://neilpatel.com/blog/loading-time/

[3] https://moz.com/learn/seo/page-speed