One of the requirements for setting up an e-commerce channel for a small to medium-sized retailer is finding a suitable host. In the case of my current project, a determination was made NOT to use Shopify et al. This was for a variety reasons that I will not elaborate on here.
In the end, I decide to go with a WP-based solution — primarily, since my client was already familiar with WordPress, and maintains a popular ecommerce-oriented (but with no shopping of course) blog on WP.com in her space.
After looking at various WP solutions, I decided on WooCommerce. Long term, this made sense for my client in view of the Automatic acquisition: this is an e-commerce theme and shopping cart vendor who would be around as my client’s business grew.
In the end, I researched and compared Bluehost and SiteGround’s managed WP hosting. Here is an edited transcript of my online chat with Siteground.
(There is always latency in these mode of communication, as typing is not instantaneous, but these gives you a good idea of how such calls go.)
Siteground Guru: Hello Secret Agent Man 🙂
Siteground Guru: How are you today?
Secret Agent Man: very good thanks
Siteground Guru: Glad to hear that
Siteground Guru: How may I assist you
Secret Agent Man: I am interested in building a Woocommerce site for a client. and have some questions
Siteground Guru: Sure I will gladly assist you
Secret Agent Man: thx my first question is this
Siteground Guru: When it comes to WordPress we are fanatics and we have a lot of experience hosting and supporting business websites
Secret Agent Man: do i need to the gogeek plan to be pci compliant?
Siteground Guru: Yes PCI comliance comes with Gogeek plan
Siteground Guru: Can you give me more details about your plans and needs so I can assist you better
Secret Agent Man: yes
Secret Agent Man: woocomerce storefront + woothemes stripe plugin for cc processing
Secret Agent Man: my concern is with woocommerce not being pci compliant
Siteground Guru: It does not have to be
Siteground Guru: as Stripe are PCI compliant and they will be the once that will process the payments
Siteground Guru: As only merchant providers like Stripe, Paypal can keep credit card details on files
Secret Agent Man: the question is does their checkout cart run on your server
Siteground Guru: and on your website your clients will just choose the product that they want to purchase
Secret Agent Man: if so, then your server must be pci compliant, no?
Siteground Guru: Your clients will be paying on the Stripe payment module
Siteground Guru: and you do not have to use PCI compliant server for your website as stripe comes with it
Secret Agent Man: that is not my question. my question is, if the stripe checkout js cart runs on siteground, is it in or out of scope re pci compliance?
Siteground Guru: You can find moree details here url:https://support.stripe.com/questions/do-i-need-to-be-pci-compliant-what-do-i-have-to-do
Secret Agent Man: yes i read that. but thank you. let us move on.
Siteground Guru: Let me explain how it works
Secret Agent Man: oh. okay.
Siteground Guru: The stripe module you will install here will redirect the data to stripe servers
Siteground Guru: and the payment will be charged on the credit card on stripe servers
Siteground Guru: You will not have the credit card of your client kept on your website/ server
Secret Agent Man: ah. yes, that is what i thought. and this cart appear as an overlay on my siteground served page?
Siteground Guru: and the payment will not be processed on the server you are using
Siteground Guru: exactly
Secret Agent Man: do i lose my domain url when the customer goes to stripe?
Siteground Guru: You have to contact them to find more details on how their shopping module works
Siteground Guru: I assume your clients will pay for your product on their website
Secret Agent Man: okay let us move on. i have a few more brief questions
Siteground Guru: I will be happy to assist you
Secret Agent Man: thank you.
Secret Agent Man: so if i get the grow big plan you install wp
Secret Agent Man: but do i then have to install woothemes/woocommerce plugins myself?
Siteground Guru: yes
Siteground Guru: of course
Siteground Guru: and you can use any plug in and theme that you like with us
Secret Agent Man: do you have any written documentation as to how to install the plug in on your servers?
Siteground Guru: We do not have a black list for plug ins and themes as other host do
Siteground Guru: It is very easy
Secret Agent Man: glad to hear that.
Siteground Guru: and if you like I can guide you how to do it was you are with me online
Siteground Guru: If you are ready to get started while you are with me though, it will be a pleasure to guide you through the process.
Secret Agent Man: let us move on from the plug in discussion for now. i assume it is a zipped file that i extract on your server to some directory.
Siteground Guru: There is a much easier option
Secret Agent Man: what is it?
Siteground Guru: You can install it from WordPress dashboard with 2 clicks
Secret Agent Man: that is great. speaking of WordPress. do you have a trial for your managed WordPress plan?
Siteground Guru: Sure you can get the package and test it 30 days
Secret Agent Man: is there a setup charge?
Siteground Guru: if you like it you can continue using it or cancel it and we will give yu full refund
Siteground Guru: You can get the package for a year and you will not pay set up fee and you can still take advamtage of the 30 days testing period
Siteground Guru: That is how you can test our services risk free
Secret Agent Man: okay so get a 1 year contract no setup fee cancellable until 30 days. correct?
Siteground Guru: Exactly
Secret Agent Man: my client (the store owner) already has a domain. her url point to a wordpress.com blog currently. can you guys change that, after the trial period, to her new store?
Siteground Guru: Sure you can use your existing domain name with us at no extra cost and all you have to do is to redirect its DNS overMa
Siteground Guru: May I have the domain in question please
Secret Agent Man: the domain in question is (redacted).com
Siteground Guru: yes you can use it with us
Secret Agent Man: do i have to contact network solutions to perform the redirect? and do you supply me with parameters, or is it done automatically?
Siteground Guru: Yes we will give you the DNS settings that you have to use and you can go ahead and do the change in your current registrar as we do not have access to do that automatically
Secret Agent Man: good. final few questions. my customer want to have a special field or attribute in the database for her product ids. she wants a custom internal product id number for her merchandise. can i extend or have access to the woocommerce sql database to do that?
Siteground Guru: You have full access to your website database and you can edit and customize it as you wish
Secret Agent Man: great re changing… is the gogeek plan the only one that provides staging?
Siteground Guru: Staging comes with Cloud packages as well
Secret Agent Man: i am not familiar with those. i thought there were only 3 plans.
Secret Agent Man: i will look into the cloud package later so i do not take up more of your time.
Siteground Guru: We offer 3 shared hosting packages where you can start your website and when you grow it and make it very very popular you can scale the package step by step
Siteground Guru: With Cloud packages you will get dedicated resources for your website and you will have all the goodies that comes with GoGeek plan
Secret Agent Man: how much is the cloud package at the starter level?
Siteground Guru: It comes at $60 /mo
Secret Agent Man: okay last few questions… what is the cost of sitealert?
Secret Agent Man: final two questions
Siteground Guru: Sure I will be happy to assist you
Siteground Guru: Can you please elaborate on the one above
Secret Agent Man: do you provide IP-based traffic analysis
Siteground Guru: Yes
Siteground Guru: It comes included in cpanel
Secret Agent Man: i thought sitealert was a product offering from siteground
Secret Agent Man: last question once in install storefront + plugins do i have to manually update them or does that happen automatically
Siteground Guru: Ohh 🙂 Yes Hack Alert you can get it with the package at $12 a year
Siteground Guru: We offer automatic updates on WordPress core files and plug ins
Siteground Guru: that is how we will take care for your website and we will also apply the latest security patches too
Secret Agent Man: perfect. Siteground Guru thank you. you have been very helpful. i will talk to the store owner today and most likely make a decision in the next 48 hours.
Secret Agent Man: okay, i am leaving now. thank you Siteground Guru, and goodbye!
Siteground Guru: Great and I will welcome you to contact us when you have more questions
Siteground Guru: Simply ask for Siteground Guru and one of my colleagues will transfer you over to continue our conversation
System:Secret Agent Man has ended the chat
Excellent call, as far as I was concerned. The Bulgarian English was a little on the robotic side, but these chaps are nothing if not friendly — even after you hand over the CC.
So, in the end, I decided to pass on Bluehost.
I then circled back with emails to Woocommerce and made sure that everything was consistent. Satisfied that my plan seemed reasonable, with no obvious gotchas, I explained everything to my client and within a day had approval to pull the trigger and go ahead.
Next I will highlight / summarize my actual Siteground buy / activation experience.