Online shopping is a huge niche and worldwide eCommerce sales are expected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022. Website development is probably the most important element creating a startup in this niche. In this article, we will examine the cost to build an eCommerce website. Read on!
2 Questions to answer before building your eCommerce website
“How much does an eCommerce website cost?” is not a simple question. Before you can get started, you must decide what type of website you need, and how much capital you have to invest.
What type of website do you want to build?
eCommerce is composed of a plethora of wide-ranging websites. After you figure out what type of website you need, you will be able to specify the requirements. Are you going to create an online shop, or develop a marketplace? These are two very different types of platforms with different features. If you are building an online store, you will be the only seller on your website, whereas if you are developing a marketplace, you will act as an intermediary between multiple merchants and customers.
Have you decided if you will sell to businesses or to customers? B2B buyers may require such special features as company accounts, Request for Quotation, and special shipping options.
Do you need advanced features like product recommendations? Maybe your idea requires complex integrations or data (web scraping) from other websites.
You must plan your site. Estimating the cost of a well-thought out project is fairly straightforward.
What is your budget?
A full-featured website made by an experienced team will cost you a pretty penny. If you want to build a low-cost eCommerce website, create a simple design with only the core functions and do as much as possible yourself, without outside specialists’ help. Before investing your hard-earned capital, you need to investigate all possible solutions.
Factors influencing the cost to build an eCommerce website
Website development is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts. We can help you estimate the cost of your website.
In our experience, these are the most costly parts:
- Design (How it looks)
- Website development (How it works)
Design and development can take up the most of your budget if you decide to build your website from scratch. This can be quite advantageous in some cases. But you may not need to create a custom website, and you may not have enough resources. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you can use design templates and off-the-shelf eCommerce solutions which will significantly reduce the time and cost of development.
Besides the design and development, there are other factors that influence the creation of your website.
- Hosting – There are simple cloud hosting services (like GoDaddy) and there are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) solutions (like AWS or Google Cloud). Personal websites and small businesses do not require complicated hosting services, while IaaS is for more complex projects. The hosting price depends on what tariff you choose and how much traffic your website must handle. But with most of the top IaaS, you pay only for what you use. The most popular cloud services are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
- Add-ons – Does your website need add-ons and unique features such as email marketing apps, analytics, or emission control of delivery vehicles? Few specialized business apps are free. Some solutions like online payments or bulk import can be implemented with API integration services.
Now, let’s explore the differences between a custom-developed website and a website created with a template.
Custom vs template website: what are your options?
When you know what you want and how much you can afford, it is time to decide whether you should hire someone to build your website or do it yourself. Money is not the only important factor; you must also consider your time, your skills, and the needs of your business. Design and development consume the most resources. You have two alternatives: custom-made or ready-made.
Custom design vs template
There are two options when it comes to design: custom design and template design.
Custom design refers to a site that has been specifically developed for your business idea. You can make a customized design with the help of freelance graphic designers or design studios. The cost of a custom design will include the work of UX and UI specialists, as well as designers. The estimates and hourly rates vary greatly. A freelancer from a third-world country may cost $5/hour, while an American design studio might charge $150/hour.
In our experience, the cost of a custom eCommerce website design created by an Eastern European agency will cost $6,000 – $10,000. The final cost will depend on the complexity of the project.
Custom designs require significant time and experience from the team. The client walks away with a unique custom-tailored visual for his/her website.
Another way to go is to use templates and themes that are available for mass use. Templates are ready-made designs that you can customize with your logo, colors, pictures, and content. You can find templates for your type of website on marketplaces like Envato, Themeforest, Template Monster, and others. It is cheap or sometimes even free, needs less time to set up, looks nice and you can customize your template by modifying details like logos, the shape of the buttons, and colors.
Pro tip: if you don’t have the budget for a proper custom design, you will be much better off with a template than with a subpar custom design.
Off-the-shelf CMS vs custom development
As for the development of your eCommerce website, you have similar options: you can either build it from scratch or use an off-the-shelf CMS. Each of these options has pluses and minuses. Let’s explore the details about each of them so you can make a decision.
Off-the-shelf Content Management System (CMS) is a pre-built solution applicable for mass use. They can either be paid or free. There are 3 types of CMS:
- Website builders have simple WYSIWYG editors and are good even for inexperienced users. Examples: Shopify, Bigcommerce. They cost from $29 per month to $299 per month.
- CMS platforms offer basic functions and many add-ons. Examples: WordPress, Magento. They can be free, but they might also charge from $300 – $25,000 per month. This type of CMS requires technical skills.
- Enterprise-level CMSs are good for building complex functionality required by big organizations. Examples: Microsoft Sharepoint, Adobe Experience Manager which cost about $100,000 – $200,000.
Many eCommerce entrepreneurs are satisfied with off-the-shelf solutions. This is an affordable and fast way to create a website meeting standard eCommerce needs. An off-the-shelf solution, however, isn’t suitable for every business.
If your project requires complex details and functionality not found in canned solutions, you’d better develop your own CMS. This option gives you more flexibility to tailor your website but requires more expertise and time, so you will need a team of outsourced developers if you don’t have such in-house.
How much does it cost to hire someone to build an eCommerce website? The cost depends on what region the dev team is from. North America and Western Europe have the highest prices. Teams from the USA will probably charge anywhere from $100 to $200 per hour, while Eastern European agencies charge $30-$50 per hour.
Estimating the average cost of eCommerce website development
Your basic costs are clear: development and design. Here is an eCommerce website development cost breakdown with numbers:
Hosting (per month)
|Simple||IaaS||Custom (per hour)||Template||Custom (per hour)||Off-the-shelf (per month)|
If you use ready solutions and need only basic features, the total cost can be as little as a few hundred dollars.
Custom website development differs depending on the development team you choose and the complexity of your website. Hourly rates of developers and designers range from $30 to $200 depending on the location and prestige of the team. Thus, the total cost of the project can be anywhere between around $10,000 and infinity.
This is a rough estimate. For precise costs, create a detailed description of your project, choose a team or agency, and ask them to consult you on how much they would charge.
Good luck and may the power of conversion be with you.