How Much Does an Ecommerce Website Cost?

Just like all web development, there are different levels of ecommerce websites. The overall cost of an ecommerce solution is primarily determined by the situation your specific business is in.

We know it can be difficult to accurately judge the ecommerce needs of your business, so we’ve put together some information and price estimates regarding ecommerce solutions and the factors they involve.

Hosted ecommerce solution

This is the most basic ecommerce solution available. You pay a monthly fee and in return you get an all-in-one, pre-built ecommerce experience. Examples of hosted ecommerce solutions are Shopify, Wix, and Etsy.

Benefits of a hosted ecommerce solutions

These are affordable and good to go right out of the box. You sign up and within a day can have a good-looking, functional online store set up. You don’t have to worry about integrating numerous smaller parts, as everything you need for basic ecommerce functionality is built into the service.

If you’re just beginning to explore the world of ecommerce, this is a great starting point. You’ll be able to test out product ideas, branding methods, and just about every other aspect of an ecommerce operation, quickly and at little cost.

It bears repeating that many of these platforms are specifically built for those with little-to-no web development experience. Nearly everything is dictated by a ‘what you see is what you get’ style graphical interface, and it’s almost impossible to break your website once it’s all set up.

Drawbacks of a hosted ecommerce solution

If you’re a bigger operation or find yourself scaling up quickly, you’ll feel restricted by hosted ecommerce solutions. It’s possible to run a high-volume ecommerce business using a service like Shopify, but that level of revenue usually means you can afford a different, more personalized, and more flexible solution.

Something else to consider is that SEO can be tricky when dealing with a hosted ecommerce service. Many of these options put a heavy focus on product pages and the transaction-oriented elements of the website. This can result in greater difficulty when trying to add informational content for SEO purposes, for example.

Lastly, because you don’t own these solutions, you may find yourself frustrated if and when problems do crop up. You’ll have to go through customer service/technical support to solve any issues you may have, and you won’t be able to commission things like industry-specific elements to make your website stand out.

How much does it cost?

Most hosted ecommerce solutions operate on a monthly pricing plan. You can expect the most basic options to cost around the $40/month mark, with more inclusive packages costing up to $200/month and more.

Open source ecommerce solution

The next level of ecommerce solutions involves shopping cart systems such as Magento and WooCommerce. These will cost you a one time or yearly fee depending on the vendor, and give you the backbone and framework for a potentially robust ecommerce operation.

Benefits of an open source ecommerce solution

Freedom and flexibility. While you didn’t create the system you’re using, most are open source. This means support from thousands of developers, so feel free to think up custom features you might want to commission!

Because you’re provided with a complete framework, open source solutions do save you time in getting set up. It might not be as quick as a hosted solution because of how much more customizable it is, but you’re not starting from scratch.

Drawbacks of an open source solution

The main drawback of an open source shopping cart system is that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Many ecommerce setups based on a shopping cart system like Magento utilize a number of freelance or agency developers along the way.

Lots of great ecommerce stores are built using these shopping carts system backbones, but it can be an issue if you run a smaller business. You likely have both limited time and finances, and each will be required to properly find, vet, and utilize quality developers.

Going the open source route is much more technical, as well. Unless you have a strong background in web development, you’ll likely need to turn to a third party for initial setup, and whenever something breaks.

How much does it cost?

There can be a lot of variation here. For example, Magento offers a community edition of their service that is completely free to use. However, you won’t have any access to their in-depth and oft-needed technical support. Their Enterprise edition, on the other hand, will run you $18,000/year.

Much of the cost will depend on how feature-full your setup will be, along with whether or not you’re starting from scratch. Magento is on the upper end of the price range, however, and it’s more than possible to get a functional ecommerce solution using an open source shopping cart framework in the $1,000 - $5,000 range.

Built from scratch ecommerce solution

At the top of the ecommerce system pyramid is the custom-built solution. These are top of the line but expensive, and do require some know-how.

Benefits of a custom ecommerce solution

As is typical with the highest level of web development, a built-from-scratch ecommerce solution will give you maximum customization and flexibility. You’ll have complete control over what goes into your ecommerce system, and it will be proprietary to your company.

Custom solutions are powerful, ready for growth and expansion, and ensure a streamlined ecommerce process from beginning to end.

Drawbacks of a custom ecommerce solution

You’re looking at a serious investment of both money and time when considering a custom-built ecommerce system. The process of finding a quality, reliable developer or agency to start with is lengthy and can be frustrating.

After you’ve found the perfect developer, time to completion is even longer. Top-end custom solutions with all of the bells and whistles can take months to create. After completion, you must consider integration as well. Moving your setup from a different solution to a custom solution can be time-consuming and filled with headaches.

How much does it cost?

Depending on the scope of your business and of your ecommerce needs, a top-of-the-line custom ecommerce solution can run you anywhere from $5,000 - $20,000 and beyond.

Which one is right for me?

The perfect solution for your business usually depends greatly on what you expect to get out of it. If you’re a small business just getting started with ecommerce, an all-in-one hosted solution is perfect for getting your feet wet.

If you’re a big business doing millions in revenue, and you’re looking for an ecommerce overhaul, skip the hosted solution and start thinking custom system.

Identify the needs of your business, and go from there.

Try out our free website cost calculator

Ecommerce functionality is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to establishing a web presence. Dealing with your own website can be a daunting task, but we’ve got you covered.

We put together a free website cost estimate calculator that will help you gain a better understanding of what goes into the website creation process. It provides you with an overall cost estimate based on your personal needs, so you’ll have a point of reference going forward. Get your free estimate now!