I received an email from a fellow Magento developer asking about hosting Magento in New Zealand – this post is about that email and my response because I think it will be useful to others asking the same questions. All of the Magento stores I’ve built to date have been overseas (read: not in New Zealand) – my experience so far has only been with building low latency sites for American customers and UK/Europe customers. The reason for this is that at World Wide Access we recognize the importance of an in-country webstore presence to customer experience (bandwidth and latency).
It was a little ironic then, that an American developer, Justin from Unify Digital contacted me for advice about building a Magento store for New Zealand customers – for the same reasons that we build our stores offshore. Here’s what Justin had to say:
I came across you site doing some research into possible hosting options for a client or ours that is targeting the NZ market. I am finding it hard to find good info on hosting in NZ and had a good chuckle after quite a bit of research when I read this on your site: “Us poor antipodeans in NZ, Aus and SA get a bit slow communication, but hey, no-one cares about that right?!” I wonder how many folks don’t know they need to care.
We have read that there is some extra latency for NZ surfers when accessing sites hosted outsize of NZ. Hoping you might be willing to share some insight and a suggestion or two. Is the latency as big a problem as it seems? Will we really see a noticeable improvement in NZ performance by hosting Magento with an NZ based host. Is there an New Zealand host that you like (maybe even one you have installed Magento?
After writing my reply I realized there was probably scope to flesh it out into a blog post on the subject as it covers several useful things; Hosting in New Zealand to target New Zealand customers, Who to host Magento with in New Zealand and some of the extra factors to consider when hosting here.
Here’s what I said in reply, I’ll elaborate briefly on these points:
If you are targeting NZ specifically then I’d really suggest hosting
your site here, it does make a difference for customer experience.
What I mean by customer experience here is the speed a page loads and responds. For example take a New Zealand site like trademe.co.nz, nzherald.co.nz:
aschroder:~ ashley$ ping trademe.co.nz PING trademe.co.nz (126.96.36.199): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=0 ttl=251 time=25.131 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=1 ttl=251 time=17.860 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=2 ttl=251 time=18.251 ms aschroder:~ ashley$ ping nzherald.co.nz PING nzherald.co.nz (18.104.22.168): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=0 ttl=58 time=20.518 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=1 ttl=58 time=21.631 ms
20ms is blink of the eye sort of speed, you’ll get a response immediately from these sites, and because they’re also hosted here, that response will be downloaded very quickly due to the NZ bandwidth available.
Compare that to say
Amazon.com (firewalled ICMP apparently…) Staples.com or Dell.com:
aschroder:~ ashley$ ping staples.com PING staples.com (188.8.131.52): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=0 ttl=240 time=383.091 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=1 ttl=240 time=335.632 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=2 ttl=240 time=384.764 ms aschroder:~ ashley$ ping dell.com PING dell.com (22.214.171.124): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=0 ttl=239 time=208.236 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=1 ttl=239 time=207.764 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=2 ttl=239 time=207.502 ms
We’re talking an order of magnitude slower, that goes from not noticeable to noticeable. Pile on top that the fact that Magento is not the fastest horse in the race and you’re starting to hurt customer experience.
To put it in context, an oft-cited metric from Amazon.com is :
Every 100 milliseconds slower your page loads decreases conversion by 1%.
(anyone know where it comes from?)
In any case, the faster your pages load, the more you will sell and the more happy your customers will be, why not make them happy and host here?
As for who to host with, tough one, I do all of my work offshore so I
actually don’t host anything here. I have heard about openhost.co.nz –
but I couldn’t say if they are good or not – they claim to have 10k
customers – which must be most of the NZ websites in existence if it’s
I don’t have much more to add here actually – hosting in NZ is much dearer than hosting outside of NZ, colo is borderline prohibitive here – but I don’t actually have a lot of feedback on the various companies, perhaps they’d like to weigh in here with some info about themselves, or others may have some feedback?
One other thing to consider. When Google is deciding which sites are
‘local’ and have precedence in rankings for a particular country they
take several things into account which you might not have thought
Here are a few:
1) domain name – so get a .co.nz
2) hosting country – so worth hosting here for that
3) webmaster tools geotarget setting
This doesn’t require much more elaboration – suffice to say your hosting choice is actually not just about performance but can have an effect on your SEO too, so if you need even more reasons to host locally, then keep in mind that your search engine rank in New Zealand may be better if you are hosted here, than if you are hosted elsewhere.
I’d be very interested to hear from some NZ folks who are hosting here, who they;re hosting with and their experiences on that – so don’t be a stranger, comment!
Update: What about hosting in Australia for the Australia and New Zealand audience – it’s doable, we have a pretty good connection to Australia via the Southern Cross Cable. If you’re targeting both countries, more people live in Australia, so you’ll have a better experience for more people by being there. The best case of course, host in both or at very least do some NZ edge CDN.