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How Much Does it Cost to Build an eCommerce Website/App?

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cost to build an ecommerce website

As an IT company, we often get the “how much” question. It is usually a question more like – “How much do you cost to build an eCommerce website?”

You might be wondering if there is a one-size-fits-all answer – But there isn’t! 

Instead, the eCommerce application or website development journey, from – ideation → requirement analysis → timeline and estimation → design → prototyping → development → testing, and finally deployment, could range anything in between $5 thousand to upwards of $5 million! 

There are two main questions I ask my potential clients before estimating an eCommerce website cost – What are your sales & traffic goals? and, What custom features will you require to meet those goals? 

The answer to the above questions can vary greatly depending on whether you’re a fledgling start-up, market leader or something in between. So it makes sense that eCommerce application or website development costs can fluctuate greatly too!

In addition, there are many eCommerce development companies to choose from, and different companies will give you different estimates which can make the entire process a little more complicated. Thus, it is imperative to understand the factors that go into website development pricing. 

For instance, if you are targeting $50,000 a year in sales, you can probably get an eCommerce website for around $5,000. However, if your target is to achieve a million dollars in sales, then the cost of your eCommerce website will be tentatively higher. 

More Features and Functionality are Essential to Gain a Competitive Edge in eCommerce Website Development-

In many ways, the eCommerce market is like a race amongst third graders – If all other factors are equal, whoever is better equipped – wins. Some websites are Audis’ while some are Prius’. Just like cars, some eCommerce websites are easier to build than others. Therefore, in order to completely understand the cost of creating an eCommerce website, we ought to delve into the factors which go into racking up that cost. 

Hence this blog!
It is a comprehensive guide for up-and-coming eCommerce entrepreneurs and industry professionals alike. It is designed to serve as a holy grail for fledgling aspirants who wish to venture into this domain or are already well-established. You can keep coming back to it in order to ensure you get the gist of it all. 

Questions You Must Answer- 

To figure out the necessary requirements and costs of setting up your eCommerce business you must elaborate and elicit answers to questions like: 

  1. How many products and product varieties will there be, i.e. size, colour, etc.?
  2. Is the pricing structure going to be complex or standard?
  3. Do you have the content and images ready and organized or will you need to get it prepared?
  4. What kind of hosting solution are you referring to?
  5. What is the payment integration platform you want (Paytm, Paypal, Venmo , etc)?
  6. Is the site going to be static or dynamic? 
  7. Do you want to include a blog, social media, other special features?
  8. Do you want a site hosted on eCommerce platforms (BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, etc) or do you want a self-hosted site? 

Variables that determine your eCommerce Website Cost 

The primary and approximate estimation of eCommerce website cost starts with two issues → targeted sales goals & required custom features.

Right off the bat, you can notice the difference between a modest sales target with a hosted platform will cost something between $1K and $5K, while a professional custom site will cost much more – again depending on the platform you wish to utilize. 

These are some of the primary factors which change the cost of your eCommerce website or application. 

  • Design:
    There is a huge difference between a custom-designed website vs. using a template.
  • Functionality:
    Custom functionality catered to your specific business case and uniquely programmed features will increase pricing. 
  • Data Imports:
    If your business requires product data or past order data/customer data to be imported, this can considerably alter your cost. Kindly make sure that your database includes all of the data needed website for your website to function. 
  • Marketing and SEO:
    A fully integrated marketing plan will again buttress the bottom line, but it may be crucial for driving traffic to your site and delivering ROI (Return on Investment). 
  • Integration:
    The integration of your website with an ERP or other third-party systems can often cost thousands. 
  • Company Selection:
    Choosing an established and experienced company often costs much more but also provides more value.

Quantifying the “How Much” Question:

For the sake of getting a starting point, let us assume it is a 50 product eCommerce website. 

  • You have all the content written (rarely is this the case). 
  • You have all of the product images ready, sized correctly, and optimized for the website (again this is rare). 
  • You also have your products, pricing, and information neatly and carefully organized into a Spreadsheet format. 

In essence, you’re about ready or are very close to being ready for an eCommerce website developer to get it all stacked up into the new eCommerce database system that will empower the new online store. 

Let us assume that the site we’re pricing for has only a handful of slightly complex variations and those variations are independent of price variations. What it simply means is that if a product has ten sizes & six colours then the price will be the same across the board no matter what combination of variants that your online shopper selects at checkout. These critical disparities and pricing information are vital for an eCommerce website/app development company to be able to give you an accurate projected cost for your new eCommerce app/website. 

You can easily see how the “unknowns” like variable pricing make it next to impossible for an experienced eCommerce developer to accurately answer the generic “how much” question. It can mean the difference between a hundred-hour eCommerce development project and a 300 hour eCommerce development project. That’s a huge gap between estimated and actual development time that has to be better quantified. Let’s understand these variables.


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14 Crucial Factors for Development of an eCommerce Website

1. eCommerce Platforms 

A hosted platform is one that runs on a server outside your reach, for example, Shopify or Magento, it offers a pre-set site ready to go from day one. Pros include simplicity, no coding, stability, and good hosting. The major drawback is the inability of hosted platforms to adapt features or customize the site. 

A self-hosted eCommerce store will dwell on one’s own servers with complete access and ownership of the code. Pros to this approach are full control, access to code, customization, while cons include the higher cost of setting up, updates and support, tackling technical issues. 

Let’s illustrate how different sorts of a platform influence the cost of eCommerce website development. 

Statistics reveal that Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento are amongst the top three most frequently used platforms worldwide. Let’s learn a little more about them,

  • WooCommerce
    WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress that allows adding mainstream functionalities to your WordPress website. It allows significant customization by downloading or buying needed extensions or themes that expand its embedded functionality and even redesign the user interface. The culmination of its free-of-charge basis and extended configurability makes WooCommerce popular among online merchants of all sizes.
  • Magento

Magento is an open-source eCommerce framework that allows using its embedded configurability, as well as download features or purchase needed modules in Magento pools. One of the crucial pros of employing Magento is that the platform provides flexibility and unlimited customization to mould it into any form of customer’s desire. These features make Magento-based online websites a good fit for eCommerce websites of medium to large sizes. Even big players such as Philips, Nestle, Christian Louboutin, Olympus, and Men’s Health have decided on it.

  • Shopify

    Shopify requires no introduction to anyone who aspires to open an eCommerce store. It is a one-stop-shop platform and requires little to no professional knowledge for its maintenance and operation. Shopify has four license plans available:

  • Lite – starting at $108/year,
  • Basic – starting at $348/ year,
  • Pro – starting at $948/ year, and
  • Unlimited – starting at $2148.

All of this makes it a good choice for small businesses as well as big customers such as Google, Tesla, and Wikipedia. 

In order to get a comprehensive idea of what would be the suitable eCommerce platform (hosted or self-hosted) for your business. Do not forget to visit the link below. (link of EB’s blog on hosted and self-hosted Commerce platform). 

Depending on your business use-case and how simple or complex your eCommerce platform is – the costs may vary quite significantly for websites or applications of almost similar functionality. There are industry-oriented platform solutions, integrated solutions based on ERP systems, and SaaS (software as a service) offerings designed to be comfortable for business owners to set up and configure themselves. 

At the lowest cost, if you believe you don’t need any outside help, some SaaS offerings start at $19.99 -$29.99 a month. A slightly‌ ‌more‌ ‌configurable‌ ‌and‌ ‌ ‌customizable offering like Magneto or BigCommerce costs a little more as they can handle considerably more users. These platforms are not designed to be set up by business owners without expertise. 

So at a baseline, chances are that you will likely spend $5,000 with a good domestic vendor just to set up your store and do basic configuration and training.

2. eCommerce Interaction Design

High-end stock images are not cheap – neither is a great graphic designer! High-quality graphics will make your eCommerce website stand out from the crowd. eCommerce interaction design is one key area that you don’t want to cut corners on.

Also, if you don’t have a great logo already it’s highly recommended to get it worked out in the design package with your company as well. Do you really want to utilize a $5 to $50 dollar generic logo as the face of your brand in which you’re investing at least a few thousand dollars?

The crucial factors that shape the eCommerce website design prices are as follows,

  • Website interactivity
  • Number of basic content pages
  • Need for website and product graphics and pictures
  • Amount of materials, provided by the client (graphics, content, branded materials)
  • Need for website domain and hosting
  • Website responsiveness (optimization for use on mobile devices and tablets)

Hence, great design is imperative for creating a successful eCommerce website design. A good eCommerce Website/App Design is one that is primarily focused on satisfying the needs and desires of that demographic who will both visit and shop on the site.

Interaction design also ensures that the design elements further the type of behaviour that can make the shopping experience for visitors as intuitive as possible. Such features include adding to cart, checkout, category features, etc. 

For a business with mainstream eCommerce requirements, plan on spending about $1,000 – $2,000 to ensure testing and usability. Most importantly it is crucial to ensure that the above metrics are benchmarked not only during development but post-launch as well.

3. Domain Name and Website Hosting

The domain name and website hosting are 2 very crucial points often neglected, and it’s a glaring oversight. Let’s not make the same mistake and take a closer look at these factors. 

A domain name must be similar to the name of your company, be significant but also easily verbalized. It’s really vital because we’re talking about your eCommerce business brand. It is also important to make sure that the name is free. Believe us, the task is much more complicated than it might seem at first glance, and it is quite similar to registering a new email account on a popular service when you keep getting the same red-colour error text that says “the name already exists”. 

If you have encountered such an issue in the past, you’ll understand the importance of dealing with this hitch in advance. We suggest you use the help of one of the specialized resources, such as godaddy.com and whois.net. 

Hosting ensures the proper performance of your eCommerce website. There are different options, such as  

  • Shared-hosting, the most simple one:

The provider that you’ve opted for designates the necessary resources, and you pay a certain amount of cash (using one of their accepted modes of payment) each month. The user of such a shared system has the opportunity to download files via FTP, as well as through the special panel.

VPS/VDS – Virtual Private/Dedicated Server:

This is a hosting technology with several segregated VMs or Virtual Machines on a single physical server. You, as the user, get the right to control all the processes at the level of the root user. This is a very good option for e-commerce website development.

The client, in this case – you, gets the physical machine that has certain characteristics and is located in a specially equipped data centre. Typically, big portals with a large number of visitors choose to go with the dedicated server option.

4. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate 

How to make an eCommerce website reliable and authentic? Since you are dealing with payments, you should take care of the matter in question beforehand. We recommend you seek help from an SSL certificate, which provides assistance in secure data transmission through verification and encryption mechanics. 

The SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol is a guarantee of the absence of the slightest danger and threat of hacker attacks during any interaction of your server with the visitor’s browser. In effect, SSL is almost similar to security. The SSL protocol helps to transmit the user’s encrypted data through HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). To return information to the decoded format, one needs to make use of a secret digital key. 

This whole operation needs the installation of the SSL certificate – a unique virtual document that characterizes the level of security of your e-commerce business website.

Types of SSL certificates (depending on the validation needed):

a) Domain validation: quite a simple option that requires only verification and, therefore, is in high demand nowadays.

b) Business validation: This option is relevant for those e-commerce entrepreneurs who think about their reputation. In this case,  more thorough research should be performed, including an analysis of your business processes; 

c) Extended validation. Only these EV certificates provide the online store website with a green address bar in the browser. 

5. eCommerce Website Content Management Systems 

There are three options when it comes to writing content for your website – Either you can write your eCommerce website’s content yourself or outsource it overseas for around $1 per page. You can also use a content writing firm to do the job for you. These firms generally charge around $100-$200 per page. 

Here comes the role of Content management systems. CMS is software allowing businesses to create, manage, and edit the content on their website themselves. This way, if you want to change a text in a paragraph somewhere on your website, you don’t need to ask developers to do that. 

There is plenty of CMS software like WordPress, Drupal, Shopify, etc which can efficiently get the job done. They are also a great way to cut on development hours and reduce the cost of building the website. But like any out-of-the-box solution, they’re pretty restricted in their functionality and are less secure. The latter is true because malicious softwares are generally written to target popular systems rather than custom ones. 

Many eCommerce entrepreneurs want to manage their own eCommerce websites. The costs for integrating and custom developing an eCommerce CMS can typically range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. 

6. Quality Assurance (QA)

Quality assurance is another vital aspect of building your eCommerce app or website. For a basic eCommerce website with primal functionalities, quality assurance costs can range anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000. For an ongoing project, it can go up as much as $100,000.

Therefore it makes it essential to have great QA engineers in your team if you are preferring a custom-designed eCommerce website. The job of a QA engineer is to ensure that every feature of the website works as intended for the target user. It is QA’s responsibility to prevent and eliminate any bugs as soon as possible before they can interfere with the build, performance, appearance, consequently – with the reputation of your website. 

Every project needs testing because it’s impossible to deliver a decent product without it. Your website development project needs to be monitored by a QA all the way from ideation to deployment. The job of a QA doesn’t end here, later, a QA needs to check whether every new feature added or modified is working as intended and conforms to the supposition of the app store guidelines, customers, and website users. 

7. Marketing and SEO 

Of course, all these shenanigans are useless without customers using it. You may have the best product in the market but if you don’t know how to make your product reach the target – all your hard work is dormant. Any analysis of the cost which goes into building an eCommerce website must include a marketing budget. Never. Ever. Skimp on allocating marketing budget for your eCommerce business. 

There are a plethora of options to attract traffic to your website or application, including video marketing, mobile marketing, social media, and even traditional methods like email marketing. Most small companies and startups allocate about $2,000 per month on marketing. 

In addition, before finalizing on a company ask what services are included in the initial eCommerce website development cost. Some businesses offer eCommerce SEO services as part of their SEO packages, while some don’t. Having SEO features included in your package is surely a big advantage and could save you a good amount of money down the line. It will also make your future SEO partner job much simpler and efficient. Hence, having marketing features built into your website is a step in the right direction. 

8. Custom eCommerce Programming and Functionality 

Custom eCommerce functionality is usually the greatest cost for an eCommerce business. It’s also one of the most vital to help your business operate efficiently and to give your site a competitive advantage. For instance, you want to incorporate customized search functionality for the type of products you sell. You know that it’ll help you get sales as not many of your competitors have it. 

Many platforms (especially good ones) provide for module and extension support where functionality designed by someone else can be incorporated into your site. This can be done at a much lower cost instead of developing it by yourself. But there’s a catch here, you need to check first to see what extensions are available before writing your custom code. However, one of the major drawbacks of custom eCommerce programming is that you can never be sure of the quality of the code of these extensions. 

In addition, custom development can get pretty expensive when you go on to design your own extensions. A good eCommerce development company will develop code that is thoroughly secure, tested, and reliable. While this may be more costly than just tossing it up together as quickly as possible – your custom code will hold up better over the long term. 

9. Customer base

The size of your client base decides the innovation necessities, equipment, and programming. In the event that you have an enormous client base, you will require a site and supporting applications that can deal with a great deal of simultaneous traffic. This directs the innovation you use and the sort of system, servers, and other equipment required. This directs the size and skill of your improvement group and the required expenditure.

Like open doors for promoting increment, for example, web-based social networking, video, portable advertising and DRM (direct reaction), and so on., organizations’ financial limits need to increment to keep up a piece of the pie and drive traffic. A bigger business may go through over $100,000 per month in advertising while an independent company could make do with as meagre as $2,000 to keep up and develop their online presence.

10. Plugins

In numerous site stages, new functionality can be added to a site by acquiring specific addons and introducing them. These can be called augmentations, applications, modules, hubs, or modules just like the case with WordPress. Modules are utilized for a wide range of various purposes. They can incorporate a site with outsider administrations, empower valuable new highlights, improve site execution, give extra announcing and information, adjust how the hidden stage works, and that’s just the beginning. For instance, the highlights that make eCommerce conceivable on a site are regularly taken care of by modules.


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Making sense of the modules which you will require for your eCommerce site can be challenging. Just like with the topics, a huge number of modules exist, both free and paid. Module evaluating is likewise usually dependent on yearly recharges for updates and external support.

The cost for a given module depends for the most part on how critical and complex the highlights are. A module that adds a Twitter connect to your site’s sidebar will more often than not cost that of a module that includes whole membership management for instance. The low end of the arrangement module estimating will, in general, be around $9 or $19, while the top of the line can in some cases be $299 or more. In any case, as recently referenced, there are many free modules accessible, and you may wind up just obtaining licenses for a few business modules to satisfy your site’s specialized necessities.

A huge organization must give the most recent, coolest, intuitive highlights to advance their items and remain competitive. For instance, maybe they need an element that enables clients to redo their garments or items and see the outcomes progressively. Perhaps they need to offer an enrollment club with exceptional advantages for individuals. These kinds of highlights require broad programming and just a few bigger spending plans can bolster the structure and advancement of these highlights. A little organization, by and by, needs to depend on the inherent highlights or modules to improve their client experience.

11. Live Chat 

A good user purchase experience entails that the user has the opportunity to clarify some details of their order(s). However, not all users, especially the youth today, are fond of calling or e-mailing. Most of them prefer a much more modern way of communication, namely, a live chat with a real person on the other end. 

On the World Wide Web, there are a lot of ready-to-use solutions to create a live chat system for eCommerce stores selling products or services. Among them are Zendesk Chat, Pure Chat, LiveChat, and many other instant messaging systems. 

Each option you put your eyes on will have its setbacks and favouring points, but that is a topic too complicated to discuss in this article (maybe later, in another blog post). To make a decision in favour of a certain chat system, you should try to get help from web developers who have the know-how of creating an online store with all its features and attributes. 

12. Company Selection

The right company selection will determine the look and feel of your product. It is true what they say, ‘You get what you pay for’, so is the case with eCommerce development companies as well. The eCommerce development company you opt for will certainly affect pricing. What you should remember is that you’ll usually get what you pay for. 

A higher-priced company usually will provide more top-notch work, while looking for saving money and opting for a cheaper alternative often results in headaches and 2 a.m. phone calls. Strictly ensure whoever you choose is reliable, is easily accessible and has already worked in your domain. Your chosen company should be readily available for you both during the development phase and after website completion. 

13. eCommerce UX design

The UX (User Experience) is arguably the most important part of an online shop, and often the most ignored. The cost of UX design and development must always be factored into the overall development budget. An ideal eCommerce UX design should be focused on the desires and needs of your visitors, after all, it is a key component in converting window shoppers into paying customers.

An intuitive eCommerce interface ensures less bounce rate which consequently means visitors will more likely make a purchase. By facilitating the visitor’s navigation to their desired quickly and easily while avoiding frustrating errors and delays – you will be able to notice an immediate increase in sales. 

A Good UX design typically costs up to $2,000. Evaluating the effectiveness of the UX design is a continuing process, well past development and initial launch. 

14. Training and Support

Last but not least, don’t forget to factor in the operating costs of running an eCommerce store. You will be needing training and support whether you are an entrepreneur or the manager of a large team – You simply cannot(and must not) avoid it. 

Expect to pay anywhere between $500 to $1,500 for the initial training and support. These costs will fluctuate depending on the sophistication of your eCommerce platform and the number of employees to be trained. 

Now, bring all of this together.

Using the information above one can easily see how the costs can add up rather quickly. Another way to better understand the cost analysis is to consider these typical allocations for time: 

  • 10% Planning & Pre-development Tasks 
  • 55% Development / Database & eCommerce System Configuration 
  • 25% Design 
  • 10% Project Management 

Final answer to – The “How Much” Question. 

The vast majority of eCommerce websites we develop and launch typically range anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000. 

If you’re planning for the eCommerce website to one day generate a substantial portion of your income please don’t skimp on the initial investment in high-quality design and development. 

What would you pay for a brick-and-mortar retail shop? You might easily invest $100,000 to $200,000 on the lease, inventory, interior design, marketing, advertising, utilities, staff, equipment, and insurance, etc. Why be so hesitant about paying a reasonable fee for a digital version of your business? For a professionally designed and developed eCommerce website realistically you can expect to pay as little as $2,500 or as much as $10,000 or more. 

Cost Breakdown Based on Business Size 

A thorough analysis of eCommerce website/app development cost breakdown proves that the main factor which determines the cost are project scale along with business owners’ preferences. Finally, it depends on your budget and requirements, you can decide on having all the needed features individually tailored, or you can opt for a cheaper ready-made solution that is still attractive and applicable. 

Regardless of what you decide, below are the average prices for the development of eCommerce sites for small, medium, and large businesses respectively, 

  • For small businesses – from $5K (based on open-source software) to $25K (based on a hosted eCommerce platform) 
  • For medium businesses – from $25K (based on open-source software) to $50K (based on a hosted eCommerce platform) 
  • For large businesses – from $50K (based on open-source software) to $500K (based on a hosted eCommerce platform) 

How Startups Can Reduce the Cost of Development 

This all can be a little overwhelming, especially for solopreneurs on a tight budget. Don’t stress! This is a completely normal situation for any startup, and we have solutions. Here are our few tips on reducing the cost of development – Firstly, an offshore development team can considerably reduce the cost of development, without compromising on the quality. 

Sceptics of outsourcing don’t realize the significance it holds in today’s circulatory economy. It is one of the greatest tools of modern software development which every company should leverage to reduce overheads and up unnecessary stress. 

In addition, you can always opt for low-cost choices in eCommerce platforms. Hosted platforms like WordPress or Shopify can let a new business get started without a large outlay of funds.

Conclusion:

If you’re planning for the eCommerce website to one day generate a substantial portion of your income please don’t dabble on the initial investment in good quality design and sturdy development. 

A brick-and-mortar shop is not easy to set up. You may easily end up investing $100,000-$200,000 on the inventory, interior design, lease, marketing, staff, equipment, advertising, utilities, and insurance, etc. Then why be so hesitant about investing in a digital version of your business? IT IS THE FUTURE! 

Approaching eCommerce web and app development companies for a cost estimate with just a general idea won’t give you an answer, unfortunately. You must be thorough and specific while communicating your requirements.

The point is to be able to give clients a plan which echoes their desire and channelizes it to the correct arrangement of a group of spectators. As a stage for highlighting numerous items and classifications, and a protected and secure checkout process, one ought to try to help the end purchasers to have incredible involvement with the site. It is likewise imperative to keep the intricacy of the back end to the absolute minimum level for snappy and simple website management.

In the wake of breaking down your business figure, you can contribute an extra add-up to grow your business. While you consider extending, alongside web improvement a mobile application advancement will make your business procedure increasingly powerful and productive.

Upon reflection and discussions with contacts in the business, a typical opinion is that a great part of the underlying expense of setting up another advanced eCommerce site is paid in time as opposed to cash. Between the exploration it takes to figure out which instruments are proper, contracting and working with an expert, figuring out how to utilize the site, marking, creating content, and everything else that goes into propelling another endeavour, perceive that some exertion will consistently be vital. The dollars and pennies may change yet the dedication expected to make any new business genuinely fruitful stays consistent.

Did we answer all of your concerns? Have any other suggestions or questions for us? Visit our website or drop a comment in the section below. We will get back to you soon!

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Mayank Pratap
Mayank Pratap

Mayank Pratap Singh Top writer at Entrepreneur.com, the startup, Hackernoon, StartupGrind | Helped 500+ founders to build awesome Web & App products, Hire Remote Engineers | 30+ funded, 6 selected in Y-Combinator | More than 50 founders from MIT DeltaV & Harvard innovation lab has used Supersourcing

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