The Guide to E-Commerce Website Development Cost Calculation

With a heavy increase in e-Commerce, not all brick-and-mortar retailers have already gone online. Why? Probably, the major reason is the website development cost. So, how much does it cost to build an e-Commerce website? As in the case of house building, there is no standard price — it varies greatly depending on components that influence its cost.

The components that make up the cost of e-Commerce website development are the following:

  1. The platform on which the website is developed
  2. The website customization
  3. The website design and content
  4. The hosting

The Platform

The choice of a platform depends heavily on what customers expect to get from their online shopping solutions. For small businesses, no-frills open-source platforms may be a workaround, as they are available for free or have cheaper licensing cost, and allow the business owner to set them up and configure. Bigger companies most probably demand more sophisticated website structure and capabilities, that creates a need in a highly configurable platform that supports significant customization.

Let’s illustrate how the platform influences the cost for e-Commerce website development by an example of the leading platforms that most businesses rely on. Statistics show that WooCommerce, Magento (both Community and Enterprise editions), and Shopify are the Top 3 most frequently used platforms worldwide. The key factor for such popularity is that they provide the capability to develop unique solutions that best suit individual companies’ requirements.

1. WooCommerce

A free plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce allows adding mainstream functionalities to WordPress websites. However, it allows significant customization by downloading or buying needed extensions or themes that expand its embedded functionality or improve the user interface. The combination of its free-of-charge basis and extended configurability makes WooCommerce so popular among the online merchants of all sizes, both for startups and well-established companies.

2. Shopify

A one-stop-shop platform, Shopify requires little to none professional knowledge for its maintenance, while it allows adding desired features to online stores. The variety of the vendor’s license plans makes Shopify a good choice both for businesses of all sizes — from tiny startups to large corporations.

3. Magento

Depending on a company’s specifics, Magento provides two versions: a free Magento Open Source and an enterprise-level Magento Commerce. Magento Open Source provides only basic functionality, and Magento Commerce is a full version that enables comprehensive e-Commerce and marketing capabilities to create advanced shopping experiences. Both solutions provide unlimited customization capability and flexibility to adjust it to any customer requirements. This all makes a Magento-based website a good fit for all businesses — from SMEs to big market players.

4. Platforms for Large Businesses

Even though it’s not on a Top 3 list, such big players as SAP Customer Experience, Oracle Commerce and IBM WebSphere Commerce should not go unmentioned. Although the solutions are quite costly, large companies with multi-billion revenues don’t have much choice other than to decide on them, as the platforms can seamlessly support high-volume operations. The platforms power up individually tailored websites that meet specific customer needs and allow synchronization with other corporate software.

Read also: SAP Commerce Cloud Capabilities [Platform Insights]

The Platform’s Customization

Acquiring a license is only the first step on the way to a full-fledged online shop. Further, the platform must be customized in accordance with the business needs and specifics. This includes the proper platform’s setup and configuration and adding necessary modules and extensions.

Some platforms don’t require specific expertise and are so easily-manageable that even a business owner can develop an e-Commerce website on their basis. However, the implementation of such sophisticated solutions, as Magento or SAP Customer Experience, cannot go without outsourcing development services.

Moreover, in most projects platform’s embedded features are enough. A lot of companies have thousands of goods on their price lists, provide shipping and accept various types of payment. In such cases, a website needs a lot of pages to be created, payment systems to be connected, and some other functionalities (blogging tools, shopping carts and so on) to be set up.

So, thousands of extensions and modules are available for download or purchase. If customers cannot find their silver bullet among off-the-shelf plugins, then they opt for custom module development. The help of professional developers is rated from some 10s to hundreds of US dollars per hour on the average, and the longer their work on a project lasts, the costlier it becomes. So, how long does it take for a developer to build a site? The answer is as always: it depends.

Also, business owners should consider the expenses on staff training or a new team hire for CMS management and maintenance in cases of large catalogs and extended website features.

financial expences

The Website Design and Content

Among the diversity of similar online shops, retailers need to gain customers’ attention to their offerings and hold it. That is why businesses make so many efforts to provide interactive and responsive web design, good usability, high-quality graphics, and insightful content.

There are ready-made themes and templates that can be downloaded or purchased to improve the website’s interface and functionality. While they allow to get off comparatively cheaply, this approach is not a way-out for businesses that seek to distinguish themselves. So, such companies turn to custom themes, which may cost up to dozens and hundreds thousand US Dollars.

Besides e-Commerce website design, the cost of site development also includes website contents. As the more informative it is, the more time a user spends surfing it, which encourages sales. For most retailers, third parties’ participation in creating visual and written content is an optimal solution, as it’s quite a time- and resource-intensive task. As always, the expenses on the website content depend greatly on its amount.

Read also: Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC): Create an Engaging E-Commerce Experience

The Web Hosting

Compared to the vagueness of customization cost, the situation around hosting is clearer. Rate plans that small SaaS platforms provide vary from dozens and hundreds thousand US Dollars, and some SaaS platform service providers even include certain hosting services into their packages. However, a website’s requirements for hosting grow in line with its development. So, a successful individually tailored website with average requirements to scale, security, and speed will consume thousands of US Dollars a month.

Ask Your Service Provider for a Cost Estimation

The above numbers and examples of how the cost for e-Commerce website development is made up are rough ones, which are available on the internet. They describe cases with no specific requirements, just with basic projects. And such a calculation of an average cost to develop an e-Commerce website proves that it’s nearly impossible to estimate the price without knowing the website’s specifications. So, the only way to know the custom e-Commerce website development cost for sure is to turn to a service provider to get their expert price estimation. Also, only the experts can suggest to you how to build an e-Commerce website you need at the optimal price.

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About the author

Yuliya Shaptunova
Yuliya Shaptunova

A content writer at SaM Solutions, Yuliya is anxious to create and deliver relevant experiences. She evangelizes corporate knowledge on expertise and innovations that the company provides.

11 Comments

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  • Great post! Thank you for taking the time to explain the costs so clearly. The only comment I would add is I caution people about Wix and SquareSpace because you can’t move your site away from their hosting. You are stuck paying their monthly fee forever. If you need functionality they don’t offer down the road, you have to rebuild your site from scratch. For some people this is not an issue, but I think it’s important to make people aware of this limitation. Thanks again for your excellent post.

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    As far as I understand that the price of making an e-commerce website depends on the customer’s business financial capacities, business plan and technologies to be used, the scope of features and the level of customization to be implemented as well.

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