What is the cost to build an ecommerce website? If you are launching your business online, you must have asked yourself this question a million times. After all, the answer will affect your whole decision-making and eventually establish whether your ecommerce venture is worth a shot.
Being 13+ years in the ecommerce market, we at Elogic have worked with hundreds of merchants in a variety of niches, of different business sizes, and on various ecommerce platforms.
And there’s one thing we’ve learned when it comes to ecommerce website cost: it depends.
What factors bloat your ecommerce website costs the most, how to calculate them right, and why paying more for development may reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long run — read more in this article.
Ecommerce Website Development Cost Breakdown
Let’s go straight to numbers, albeit the approximate ones.
Custom ecommerce website cost varies depending on the size of your business, your e-store functionalities, design complexity, and vendor type, among others. Small business ecommerce website cost might range from $30,000 to 60,000 per year, for a mid-size business — from $80,000 to $135,000 per year, and for a large enterprise — over $135,000 per year.
|SMEs and startups (small catalog, little to no custom programming, off-the-shelf theme, light traffic)||Mid-sized businesses (small catalog, little custom programming, customized theme, medium traffic)||Large enterprises (large catalog, third-party integrations, custom programming, customized theme, medium traffic)|
|Total Annual Cost||30k-60k||80k-135k||>135k|
The aforementioned numbers come from our professional experience as an ecommerce development agency. The average cost of an eCommerce website for a small to medium-sized company will obviously be lower than that of enterprises for a number of variables, like your chosen ecommerce platform, the country where you source developers, the scope of the project, etc.
To prepare the cost estimation for an online shopping project, you should add up all deliverables planned in your project. Ideally, the budget should be based on a work breakdown structure (WBS) that specifies the tasks of the team, like database and server setup, system integrations, design, etc. The hours spent on each task define their monetary value.
Here’s an e-commerce budget example for development services based on our client’s WBS:
The average cost to build an ecommerce website is basically a sum of all development and design costs. Let’s walk through each in more detail.
E-commerce Website Development Cost
So here’s the scoop:
Ecommerce site development cost varies depending on the complexity of your store. The more custom features, integrations, and pages you wish to add, the more people you’ll require for the project implementation.
Based on the number of people engaged in the development team and the project timeline, you can approximately estimate your online store development cost:
- For a small business, development teams consist of 3 people max and lead the project to its completion in 1 to 4 months time.
- Mid-sized companies will require a bigger team of 5-6 engineers and 4-6 months of timeline.
- Enterprises should count in the expenses of up to 10 software engineers and 6+ months for development.
If you plan to outsource development, you can follow two eCommerce website pricing models: fixed price per project or pay-as-you-go. The former allows you to set a clear project scope and allocate a fixed budget for the assignment, while the latter works best for support and maintenance projects.
A common practice is to combine both engagement models as the project evolves and you gain more trust with your enterprise eCommerce development partner. For instance, at Elogic, we managed to reduce the time of development 2.5x for a Finnish industrial automation company SoloTop after a fruitful cooperation with its sister company.
Reducing time of development and increasing project accuracy always translates into savings on ecommerce website price.
The Role of Ecommerce Platform in Ecommerce Website Cost Estimate
We can’t stress this enough: mind your choice of ecommerce platform! It will define your ecommerce website cost later.
You might be tempted to try Wix thinking it’s the best way to get a low-cost ecommerce website. Indeed, you might pay around $3,000 for development, but the drag-and-drop nature of the platform will hardly let you customize your store.
The crude under the hood of the platform might be more than enough for small businesses with 10-20 SKUs on the catalog, but never for those planning to grow.
In the meantime, you might be frightened to see the license costs of Adobe Commerce (aka Magento) ranging from free to $40,000+ per year depending on the edition you choose. Yet, you save much on later developments and customizations. Adobe Commerce will sustain hundreds of products, third-party systems integrations, or high website traffic in case you grow your reach.
For instance, Elogic’s client Glassmania was initially built on WordPress WooCommerce. The platform didn’t have all the capabilities to allow for glass personalization for the customers, so the brand had to spend extra on technical fixes and kludges to make it work. Eventually, the brand migrated to Adobe Commerce and completely redesigned its website.
The cost for such websites on Adobe Commerce roughly equals $50,000, with a final timeline of six to eight months.
Ecommerce Developer Rates
Another thing affecting website project cost is the rates of developers you onboard. In this case, you have three staffing options:
- hire a freelancer — $15-$90 per hour plus expenses on a project manager or other human resources supervising freelancer’s performance;
- create an in-house developers team — an hourly rate similar to that of freelancers plus taxes and other legal payments;
- outsource tasks to a certified development agency — $25-200 per hour.
The rates also vary depending on the seniority of the developer and on their location. Asia is renowned for its low rates, while the US, Australia, and the UK charge higher for developers’ services. Take a look at developers’ rates across countries depending on their tech stack:
|Adobe Commerce||Shopify Plus||BigCommerce||Salesforce|
Keep in mind! You get what you pay for. Even though Indian specialists come incredibly cheap, there are quite a lot of bad reviews about their work. The same works for the US developers: charging the highest fee in the IT market, they might still deliver the same code as their European peers at a more reasonable fee. To strike a perfect balance between cost and value, try searching for developers in East Europe.
Looking for more details? Check our related article on Magento developer hourly rates.
Smartphones are becoming the driving force behind mcommerce growth. Even though mobile shopping historically suffers poor conversion rates, consumers are still drawn to their handheld devices for product search or promotions. So mobile adaptation is another thing you should factor in while calculating the cost of setting up an ecommerce website.
If you partner with a professional ecommerce development agency, a mobile adaptation of a website comes included in the company’s service fee. Basically, you don’t have to allocate any budget to make your website mobile responsive.
Another story is if you wish to develop a mobile shopping app, for which there are two options:
- A native app developed specifically for a particular operating system (Android, iOS, Windows). Cost: >$40K per app.
- A Progressive Web App (PWA) that merges app and web capabilities using cross-platform development. Cost: >$40K as a one-time payment (no need to build an app separately for Android Play Market or Apple App Store).
Check out examples of PWA apps for eCommerce
Each option has its fair share of pros and cons, all of which should be studied and aligned with business needs. It’s also worth mentioning that mobile app support and maintenance come with a separate price tag of about 50% of the initial price of an app for the first year.
UI/UX Design Costs
Design and functionality expenses account for everything that your customers interact with. Your average cost to build an ecommerce website should include the visual design of your store, its UI/UX mockups, extensions, and add-ons.
Read also: Top 10 UX Design Tips for Your Product Page
Ecommerce Web Design Cost
Visual appearance of your website is crucial to your brand and to your customers’ experience. The average ecommerce site design cost can range from $250 to $20,000 depending on the design’s complexity and requirements.
Many SaaS-based ecommerce platforms offer ready-made themes that you can install on your own. The community-created themes can be downloaded free of charge from such websites as TemplateMonster or ThemeForest. Meanwhile, official ecommerce platform marketplaces like ShopifyThemes and Magento Marketplace offer pre-built themes at a price range from $0 to $500.
Keep in mind! Template-based design is fast and inexpensive. But it often lacks authenticity. Plus, there’s always a chance to run into the same design on another ecommerce website.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need a custom website design. Here, you can go in two directions:
- Customize the template bought previously, for which you’ll have to add from $1,000 to $3,000 to alter the ready-made design.
- Implement a custom-made solution and add any features you want, including custom layouts, scrolling animations, etc. It’s difficult to figure out the exact costs of custom design development, but on average you should expect to pay between $10,000 and $100,000 depending on the specifics, requirements, and complexity of the website.
For instance, at Elogic we have developed a custom design for Millennium luxury watches brand. Throughout six months of project development, the design was among the most important deliverables with constant enhancements and changes on the go. Just look how their page layouts, mega menus, and other features reflect their professional image!
Needless to say, you should pay more, but the chances of someone else having the same design are zero in this case. When it comes to custom web design, it’s difficult to figure out possible costs. Generally, a custom layout design may approximately cost from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the specifics, requirements, and complexity of the website.
Ecommerce functionality cost is the hardest one to calculate because it depends on your business needs.
Advanced ecommerce platforms come with an extensive out-of-the-box feature set. See Adobe Commerce which comes with a built-in B2B module or Shopify Plus with built-in analytics, for example. If an ecommerce platform offers everything you need, you can allocate $0 budget for added functionality.
Now, another story is when you wish to expand the functionality of your store on your own. Here you have two options all coming at a different price. First, you can install extensions and plug-ins from the official marketplaces of your ecommerce platform. That would cost you about $200-$300 on average. Make sure that the extension is compatible with your store, though: Elogic always evaluates extensions for effectiveness, security, features, and integration before advising them to our clients.
You might want to develop a store-specific custom solution. This option is the most expensive and can cost you anywhere from $500 up to infinity depending on the complexity of the added feature. An ecommerce development agency will write reliable code, test it, and implement the solution for you, and custom functionality should not cause you any problems.
Ecommerce fulfillment cost covers basic expenses such as inventory receiving, order picking and packing, storage, shipping, and returns. There’s no single number that we can suggest for your budget as the fulfillment cost will depend on the location of your business, your customers’ destinations, as well as third-party vendors that will help you fulfill an order.
Whether you decide to outsource or undertake fulfillment yourself, you have to consider the following fees:
|Fulfillment Service||Pricing Model||Cost|
|Receiving and intake||Per hour|
|$15 to $45|
$25-$55 per order
|Storage||Per pallet |
Per cubic foot
|$5 to $20|
$.30 to $.60
$1 to $2.50
|Pick and pack||Per order fee |
Per item fee
|Shipping||Carrier pricing passed directly on to the client.||Depends on the size, destination, weight, delivery speed, and more.|
|Kitting||Per hour||$25 to $55|
|Account management||A flat rate||$80 to $275 per month|
Some fulfillment companies include all of the mentioned expenses into an overall charge, whereas others cover only several services.
Website Management Costs
Imagine that all the aforementioned costs form a skeleton of your ecommerce project. To breathe life into your Frankensteinish website, you need to take into account post-development website management expenses. These include maintenance and ongoing support costs to continuously improve your website and ensure its outstanding performance, especially in the face of high-traffic seasons and holiday sales.
Unless you want to fix bugs yourself or see them eating your website to downtimes, ecommerce maintenance expenses are a must. They usually include new feature development, systems integration, troubleshooting, performance optimization, extension updates, security patches installation, server setup, etc.
Your ecommerce business may pay between $1,000 to $6,000 to maintain an online store monthly depending on the services you choose. Oftentimes development agencies offer support packages, so you can hire them from time to time to do your website audit for security and performance issues.
At Elogic, for instance, we have 50-, 100-, and 150-hour support packages for Magento store merchants to ensure emergencies never occur.
Other Infrastructure Costs
Infrastructure accounts for all the offscreen stuff powering your ecommerce website. These include the software on which your store is running, hosting provider, security certificates, and a domain.
Ecommerce hosting cost is one of the easiest aspects to calculate when we talk about ecommerce website development cost. Some ecommerce platforms come already with the hosted solution, like Magento Commerce Cloud or Shopify Plus, so you can skip this part of ecommerce website cost if you already have such a subscription.
But if you decide to take advantage of the third-party server providers or host your website on premises yourself, you have three options:
- a shared server — the most affordable, yet less secure option, for businesses with low traffic;
- a virtual private server — the best option for middle-sized businesses looking for stable speed and space;
- a dedicated server — perfect for large enterprises with high-load traffic seeking total control and security of the server.
The cost of ecommerce hosting will range from $4 to $1000+ per year based on their features, amount of storage, traffic, and security.
At this point, it is worth mentioning Amazon Web Services as a low-cost way to host ecommerce websites. It supports a wide variety of website hosting options and is very popular with our clients (like Carbon38 whose store is running on Magento Open Source and hosted on AWS). The price for optimal package storage starts from $320 to $1,000 per month; but you’ll need to hire a developer to create cloud instances and implement the solution.
The cost of the domain is quite cheap and can rise up to a maximum of $25 per year. Whether you choose a top-level domain (TLDs like .edu, .com, .org) or a country code top-level domain (ccTLDs like .uk, .fr, .ua), they will be equally trustworthy and shouldn’t affect the price. What affects the domain name cost is the registrar, and here are some price samples for different TLDs and ccTLDs:
Our friendly advice is to choose the type of domain and find the registrar that sells it cheapest. And please, select a domain name that lasts and speaks for your brand. Trust us, your international customer won’t understand the point of jennysbeads.com if you’ve scaled and started selling luxury goods.
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is a way to win the trust of the online users almost on the cheap. An SSL certificate encrypts all the data on your website and will make your website more secure. That coveted padlock and an “https” extension will also help you rank higher in Google searches.
What’s the cost of an SSL certificate? No more than $20 per year. You can even get it for free at some certificate authorities (CAs) like Let’s Encrypt.
So, how much does an eCommerce website cost in total? The cost of an ecommerce website is never as low as $29 or so for an ecommerce platform license. There are so many factors to be considered: development, design, integrations, support, and so on that it’s hard to establish the universal price tag for all ecommerce websites.
Company size affects the average cost of ecommerce website development.
Your choice of UI/UX design affects it.
The complexity of your integrations and custom features affect it.
All that requires a skilled workforce to ensure your investment is worth it. Partner with a professional ecommerce development agency and get an approximate budget estimate for your ecommerce website.
Ecommerce Website Cost FAQs
How much does it cost to build an e-commerce website?
Ecommerce website price will depend on the complexity of design, custom features and integrations, as well as the ecommerce platform you choose and developers you partner with. On average, costs for a full-blown ecommerce website can vary from $5,000 to $50,000 and more.
How long does it take to build an ecommerce website?
Ecommerce development project timeline will also depend on your business size, requirements, chosen ecommerce platform, and complexity of the store. Small companies can expect to spend 1 to 4 months on development, mid-sized businesses — 4-6 months, and enterprises — 6+ months.
How much does it cost to create a Magento eCommerce store?
To create a Magento (aka Adobe Commerce) website, you have to factor in the following costs: design and development, platform license fees (if any), extensions and third-party systems, hosting and other infrastructure costs, among others. The prices for Magento stores may vary from $10,000 on really small projects to $199,000+ on enterprise ones.