- By Karol K
- April 12, 2022
After the merger with Liquid Web, Nexcess has become one of the premiere providers of optimized hosting for WordPress websites of all types. In this Nexcess WooCommerce hosting review, we look at how capable Nexcess’ new platform is of running online stores built on everyone’s favorite website platform.
Read on for an in-depth look at what Nexcess’ managed WooCommerce hosting has to offer, its performance and load times, ease of use, pricing, plus who should get it and why.
Table of contents:
🐣 The Backstory of Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting
What’s now known as Nexcess managed WooCommerce hosting was Liquid Web’s WooCommerce hosting not that long ago.
In 2019, both companies joined forces to give their product lines a bit more clarity so that each could focus on its own specialized niche within the web hosting industry. Liquid Web became all about VPS and dedicated servers while Nexcess moved in the direction of small to mid-size websites running popular CMSs, such as WordPress (and WooCommerce).
The main goal of Nexcess’ offering is to provide users with performant servers while also making them easy to use from an administrative point of view. And, what’s also a key detail, Nexcess has lowered its entry-level pricing a lot compared to the previous lineup of WooCommerce hosting under Liquid Web’s branding.
🧰 The Features You Get With Nexcess WooCommerce Hosting
As with most hosting setups on the market, the exact lineup of features that you get will depend on the tier you choose on signup. We’ll cover the specifics of that in the next section of this Nexcess WooCommerce hosting review. For now, let’s focus on the overall offer and the features you can find as part of it.
And right out the gate, these setups start looking quite attractive! First off, you get everything you’d expect from “managed” WordPress hosting (or managed WooCommerce).
- Your WordPress core and plugins will be kept up to date automatically.
- There are free SSL certificates, automatic daily backups, and Nexcess’ own CDN included.
However, these features are just the tip of the iceberg. ⛰️
Nexcess offers a lot more – particularly if you’re a developer looking for tools to make your workflows easier or more efficient. You’ll get:
- The usual must-haves: one-click staging sites, compatibility with PHP 7 and 8, lazy loading, and image compression.
- Nexcess’ tool for visual regression testing. A tool like this lets you compare two versions of your website and focus on the visual differences between them rather than on the differences that can be found at the code level. Visual regression testing often proves to be faster at identifying visual bugs or other similar issues.
- Staff accounts. This is exactly what it sounds – you can create accounts for your team and let them access the Nexcess panel.
- Astra Pro included. Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes of them all. Astra Pro is the paid version of the theme, giving you more advanced features for customization and additional website elements.
- Beaver Builder included. Beaver Builder is one of the leading page builder solutions for WordPress. You might have heard of Beaver’s main competition, Elementor and Divi.
- Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder Pro included. This plugin extends Beaver Builder and gives it even more custom blocks and new features.
Astra Pro and Beaver Builder alone already add up to ~$150 in free value, but there’s more to come:
Next in our Nexcess WooCommerce hosting review, let’s talk security and performance features. Here’s what you get in this category:
- First, there are the aforementioned daily backups and free SSL certificates.
- Nexcess’ “Instant Auto Scaling.” This means that you don’t have to worry about your site going down if it gets hit by a sudden spike in traffic. As we all know, a spike in traffic is every WooCommerce store owner’s dream, so you really don’t want to hit any availability problems when that happens.
- iThemes Security Pro included. This is another addition to Nexcess’ lineup of pro plugins that you get bundled in at no extra cost. iThemes Security is one of the most popular security plugins for WordPress. It helps your site fend off attackers, protects you from common bugs, and helps detect potential problems and malware. If you want to learn more about this plugin, read this.
- Nexcess CDN Included. A CDN – or Content Delivery Network – is a setup in which your site uses a worldwide network of servers to deliver its content to visitors (instead of your one main server). Nexcess has their own such network (20+ locations with advanced caching). Learn more about CDNs for WordPress here.
- Elasticsearch integration. While not a solution for everyone, Elasticsearch allows you to run search queries much faster than the native search feature in WordPress is able to. This can be valuable for large WooCommerce stores with lots of user searches.
- Nexcess’ Plugin Performance Monitor. This one’s real good. It’s Nexcess’ own plugin that monitors all the other plugins you have on your site. Then, it lets you know when any of those plugins start slowing your site down. Issues with plugin performance are otherwise very difficult to find using normal means – read: by hand.
Okay, so all things aside, what makes this particular hosting setup into one that’s optimized for WooCommerce specifically? Glad you’ve asked!
To be frank, everything that we’ve listed above in this Nexcess WooCommerce hosting review already makes Nexcess a highly attractive setup for 90% of WooCommerce sites. However, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and want to run some more advanced functionalities, Nexcess has something for you, too:
- WP Custom Order Tables integrated. By default, WooCommerce keeps all order data as custom post types, and every piece of that data gets stored in post meta. This is not the most efficient approach from a database optimization perspective. Granted, this is not an issue for small sites that are only getting a couple of orders each day. However, with scale, this can create serious performance issues. Having all order data being moved to custom tables improves this significantly. In fact, Nexcess claims that it reduces query loads by 95% and increases capacity by 75%+.
- Sales Performance Monitor. As the name suggests, this module gives you better insights into your store’s sales. Particularly, it helps you notice any fluctuations that might be worrisome (like your sales slowing down at an abnormal rate).
- WooCommerce Automated Testing. There’s a lot of moving parts in every WooCommerce site and this means that there’s a lot of testing to be done as well. Things like your shopping cart, the checkout procedure, payment modules, etc., all need to be tested thoroughly whenever you perform an update or add a new feature to the site. This becomes problematic on an everyday basis – who has the time to test all that, right? This is where Nexcess’ WooCommerce Automated Testing comes to help. It will detect all payment, cart, checkout, and login problems for you. (And supposedly fix them too.)
- Glew.io analytics. Glew.io provides advanced analytics for ecommerce. It has cool features for data visualization, 200+ built-in KPIs that most stores find relevant, alerts, performance analytics, and much more. In short, this is the ultimate analytics tool for the advanced WooCommerce store owner.
- One-click fast checkout. Great for shortening the path from product listing to sale.
- ConvertPro included. One more plugin you’re getting for free. This one gives you effective email opt-ins and lead generation forms.
- Dokan Pro included. This plugin is a bit niche, but it’s good to know that Nexcess has got you covered here as well. In short, Dokan lets you build a multivendor marketplace on WooCommerce.
I have to admin that the list above is pretty impressive and I didn’t expect to get this much when I started writing this Nexcess WooCommerce hosting review! Overall, it’s great to see that Nexcess didn’t just put the “WooCommerce hosting” label on top of a random hosting setup – like some companies do – but, instead, they went out of their way to build in custom optimizations, security features, as well as got a lineup of useful plugins that they bundled in without any additional cost.
This makes Nexcess managed WooCommerce hosting not only live up to its name, but also one of the leading solutions in this niche.
💰 Nexcess WooCommerce Hosting Review: Pricing
In the previous section, we’ve learned what features the Nexcess platform has for us overall. Now, let’s clarify what you’ll have to pay to get them, and how Nexcess separates them into individual hosting plans and pricing tiers.
Here’s the current pricing table of Nexcess managed WooCommerce hosting:
I’m not sure what your expectations were seeing the above list of features, but it turns out that Nexcess is not only one of the more functional, but also more affordable managed WooCommerce hosting solutions on the market.
The entry-level price of $190 / year comes down to $15.83 / mo. Or, if you want to pay monthly, then the first three months are $13.30 / mo and then it’s $19 / mo.
Even the cheapest plan can handle 500 orders per hour and gives you 30GB of storage. This should be more than enough for any WooCommerce site that’s starting out – and even some that have been around for years.
For comparison, the original WooCommerce hosting offering of Liquid Web only allowed 150 orders a month – a month! And it was basically twice as expensive in its first iteration.
It’s also good to see some enterprise-level hosting options in a hosting firm’s catalog. This means that they’re ready to grow with your site and will be able to handle any level of traffic you might experience in the future.
Nexcess is also surprisingly generous when it comes to giving you access to the individual features of their hosting platform. Most of them are available on all plans – including the entry-level one.
The only features that you’ll need to upgrade to get are: WP Custom Order Tables, ElasticSearch, Glew, and Dokan Pro.
Something that I need to emphasize once again is the presence of all those bundled in plugins and the pro version of Astra. These add up to hundreds of dollars in value on their own. Frankly, if you’ve planned to use, say, Beaver Builder and Astra anyway, then doing so on Nexcess hosting is almost a no-brainer.
Oh, and did I mention that email hosting is included in all Nexcess plans? This is something that’s rarely offered by Nexcess’ competition, which makes it a great bonus.
👐 Ease of Use of Nexcess WooCommerce hosting
Everything we’ve listed above can sound a bit intimidating from an ease of use perspective. After all, all these features have to have some learning curve to them, right?
Let’s check that by hand.
To really test how getting started with Nexcess works, we’ve bought their Starter plan and went through the entire process of launching a WooCommerce site on that setup.
Buying Nexcess managed WooCommerce hosting
The signup process is basically exactly what you’d find with other web hosts or even most online services. Just provide your personal data, payment info, and you’re done.
Also during signup, you get to choose from five data center locations around the globe. It’s important to note that Nexcess maintains their own data centers – they don’t rely on Google Cloud or any other third-party provider.
As soon as you get through the initial signup and log in to your user account, you’ll be notified that your plan will take a few more minutes to get set up. In the meantime, you’re invited to check out the knowledge base.
Installing WordPress and WooCommerce
The good news is that you don’t have to install WordPress and WooCommerce by hand. Nexcess will take care of that for you, but you’ll need to give them ten minutes or so before the entire hosting setup procedure finishes.
Once everything is done, you’ll get the login info you can use to access your fresh, pre-installed WordPress site – WooCommerce is already there as well.
Nexcess site dashboard
Let’s check out your site’s main dashboard in Nexcess’ panel. To access it, you can click on the Site Dashboard button (visible in the screenshot above).
That site administration area is quite large and gives you access to basically any hosting administration operation imaginable.
That being said, you’re not being assisted very much in getting through those settings. Overall, this is the type of admin panel that’s going to be an advanced user’s dream, but doesn’t do much for the beginners among us or business owners who’d like to administer their sites without a professional’s help.
For instance, right after setup, I’ve stumbled upon some issues with my site where it was not accessible at all due to – what looked like – an error with the DNS. In the end, and after contacting support, all that was needed were five extra minutes for Nexcess to finalize their automatic server setup procedure.
While something like this won’t be particularly stressful for users who have interacted with server software before, it can be a challenge for someone who’s less savvy.
Logging into WordPress
As I mentioned, Nexcess creates a new instance of WordPress for you. Not only that, but you get WooCommerce preinstalled as well, along with a couple of the other extras that Nexcess throws in.
Upon your first login to the WordPress admin panel, you’ll see the classic welcome message plus a couple of extras:
At this stage, you can follow the hints given in the dashboard or you can go through your own store launch procedure.
One thing worth mentioning is that not everything from Nexcess’ lineup of bundled in plugins is installed from the get-go. Since there are so many extras, Nexcess opted to leave it up to you to pick and choose the exact plugins you want. You can install them by going to Nexcess → Install Plugins.
To make your choice easier, Nexcess has some presets at the bottom – allowing to pick all performance plugins for example, or all revenue-related ones, etc.
Nexcess also adds one more useful section to the dashboard where you can work with WordPress- and WooCommerce-specific features of your hosting setup.
One quite original feature available here is Priority Pages. You can pick a handful of pages on your site that you deem to be more important than the others. These can be your top products, the homepage, or whatever you like. Nexcess will monitor their performance and perform visual comparisons during plugin updates.
The Page Cache section and its appearance is a nice refreshment compared to what some of the caching plugins have got us used to. It focuses only on the most basic settings and leaves everything else to Nexcess’ system to figure out.
The Performance Monitor section is where you can check your site’s ongoing load times, performance score, and other metrics that are worth keeping an eye on.
And, of course, the size of your WordPress dashboard and the number of sections you see there will depend on the exact lineup of plugins that you’ll enable from Nexcess’ catalog. We’re not going to get into that here.
To conclude, Nexcess is easy enough to use. While the main client dashboard at Nexcess.net isn’t the most beginner-friendly, the WordPress dashboard and the Nexcess features available there are much more approachable.
📈 Nexcess WooCommerce Hosting Review: Performance
You’ve all been waiting for this! Let’s test how this new WooCommerce website of ours performs when put through one of the web’s speed testing tools.
To do this test, we bought Nexcess’ entry-level WooCommerce hosting plan called Starter and picked a server in the Midwest of the US. We ran through Nexcess’ setup procedure and then imported a handful of example products. Since Nexcess WooCommerce setups come with Astra preinstalled and active, we left it intact for testing.
We’re also running a non-accelerated setup without a CDN or any of Nexcess’ other performance-optimization solutions.
The test itself consisted of a handful of runs from multiple locations. Here’s what we found:
LocationLoading TimeTTFBFirst PaintInteractiveN. Virginia0.94 s262 ms1.25 s1.27 sCalifornia1.03 s328 ms1.14 s1.01 sLondon1.69 s520 ms2.15 s2.15 sParis1.71 s487 ms2.20 s2.21 sMumbai2.59 s952 ms2.46 s2.43 sTokyo1.95 s676 ms2.08 s2.04 s
As you can see, the loading times are very good, particularly from the US where our data center is located. But the numbers from the other locations are also not half-bad. Hooking the site up to a CDN and enabling other optimizations would certainly improve and even out the performance across all locations.
🏁 Nexcess WooCommerce Hosting Review Conclusion
Overall, I have to admit that Nexcess’ is one of the few truly WordPress- and WooCommerce-optimized managed hosting setups I’ve seen. In an industry where every host is quick to call a random setup “managed WordPress hosting,” Nexcess truly delivers on this promise!
The features, the performance, the customization options – it’s all there. Not to mention the attractive price that’s nearly half what you’d pay with hosts like Kinsta or WP Engine.
In the end, if you’re thinking of launching a new WooCommerce store or you’re looking for a new home for your existing store, then Nexcess might just be it! Check it out.
What do you think of Nexcess managed WooCommerce hosting? Let us know in the comments below.
Karol K. (@iamkarolk) is a freelance blogger and writer, WordPress figure-outer, and published author of “WordPress Complete”. His work has been featured all over the web on sites like: Smashing Magazine, Ahrefs.com, Optimizely.com and Adobe.com.