What is the cost of building an ecommerce website? Blood, sweat, and gritted teeth, you would say. But this article will be more down-to-earth, and we’ll basically be talking numbers.
Ecommerce website cost varies depending on the size of your business, your e-store functionalities, design complexity, and vendor type, among others. A total cost for a startup or an SME 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|
You might wonder where we got these numbers from. Being 10+ years in the ecommerce market, we’ve worked with all kinds of merchants, both big and small. The costs mentioned above are approximate and include many variables affecting individual businesses.
Here are the most important aspects you need to consider while calculating the average cost to build an ecommerce website.
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.
Your choice of an ecommerce platform will define both your business growth and the ecommerce website cost. In our experience, three most reliable and functional ecommerce platforms are BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, and Magento.
These ecommerce solutions range in their costs depending on out-of-the-box features and level of service. Here’s the cost for each platform as of 2021:
BigCommerce — $29.95+ per month plus 15-day free trial.
Shopify Plus — $2,000+ per month depending on the options selected; a 14-day free trial available upon request.
Magento — free to $40,000+ per year depending on the edition you choose.
For more info on the specific features of each platform, their usability, support and maintenance, and ideal merchants for each, see our comparison articles on Magento 2 vs Shopify Plus and BigCommerce vs Magento.
Ecommerce hosting cost is one of the easiest aspects to calculate when we talk about ecommerce website development costs. 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:
Their price 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 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 domains (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 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.
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 and the UX, extensions and add-ons, and fulfillment.
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 in your store 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. Such 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.
But if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’d need a custom website design. You can customize the template bought previously, for which you’ll have to add from $1,000 to $3,000 to alter the ready-made design. Or you can implement a custom-made solution that will speak of the uniqueness of your business and add any features you want, including custom layouts, scrolling animations, etc. That’s what we did for our customer Millennnium. 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 what you need for your business.
On one thing, advanced ecommerce platforms come with an extensive out-of-the-box feature set. See Magento Commerce which comes with a built-in B2B module or Shopify Plus with its 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.
Second, 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.
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 marketing and maintenance costs to boost your visibility and attract sales to your online business.
As Google and social media have become the primary source of customers’ information, it makes sense to invest into these ecommerce channels as a part of your marketing campaign.
Common marketing expenses include brand development, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click) advertising, copywriting, social media marketing, and email marketing. For bigger efficiency, there’s a bunch of tools to set your marketing in motion. Here are a few ideas:
|Google Ads||PPC campaigns||$100+ (increase the budget as you need)|
|SemRush||Content marketing||$119.95+ per month|
|Facebook Dynamic Ads||SMM||$100+ per month (go higher or lower depending on your needs)|
Also, mind the salary and/or hourly rates of marketing specialists you hire to streamline your marketing operations. It might cost you anywhere between $500-$5000 to develop a logo and visual identity or $1500-$6500 to hire a marketer. To reduce your marketing costs, you can try restricting the number of marketing strategies, like choosing SEO over PPC.
And remember: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Marketing costs will vary based on your business scale and needs, so try to be flexible in this section of ecommerce website cost.
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.
While planning your ecommerce website cost, you should take into account the rates and salaries of the people involved in its development.
It’s great to have a guy for everything. A marketing guy. A design guy. A developer guy!
The latter one is probably the most important since he (or she — no prejudice here) will set all the technical aspects of your website and ensure its optimized performance and security.
When it comes to ecommerce development rates, you have three staffing options:
All the rates vary depending on the location: usually East Europe is renown for lower rates, while the US, Australia, and UK charge higher for developers’ services. Magento developer hourly rates are a perfect case in point: North American Magento specialists will agree to work with you at $100-175/h, Western European — at $40-125/h, and Eastern European developers — at $30-70.
Ecommerce platforms can be an excellent solution for launching your online store. They are constantly evolving and updating, providing you with all the important out-of-the-box features, built-in functionalities, and a drag-and-drop interface that makes the store management process as easy as possible.
Let us be a bit biased here and recommend Magento 2 as an ecommerce solution for your business. The platform offers a lot of advanced functionality out of the box, including product categories, a flexible coupon system, smart upselling and cross-selling features, layered navigation, multi-currency payment systems, and more. Magento is a solution that suits all types of businesses from small to large enterprises.