How Much Does an eCommerce Website Cost?

Breaking down the costs of developing an eCommerce website.

January 5, 2021
10 mins read
Last Updated February 12, 2024
eCommerce Website Cost

How Much Does an eCommerce Website Cost?

20.8% of retail purchases are expected to happen online in 2023; by 2026, the number will rise to 26%. As eCommerce sales growth rate reaches 10.4% in 2023, the global online shopping market is set to become a $6.3 trillion entity by 2023.

If you have landed on this page, we are sure your eCommerce application idea is ready to be a part of this rapidly growing industry! However, e-commerce website development cost is a significant factor to consider before going all in on your app idea.

An e-commerce website pricing will be somewhere between $5,000 and $200,000 and even more in some instances. We know it isn’t a very precise estimate, but that’s because of the vague question. You might come up with a similar cost estimate if we ask you how much a car costs, isn’t it?

Keep reading to discover how various development features and stages affect the cost of building an eCommerce website or eCommerce software.

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Things to consider when assessing the cost of an eCommerce website

When assessing the cost of an eCommerce website, several factors must be considered. These factors will have a direct impact on the overall cost of the project. Here are some key points to take into account:

  • Website features and functionality: The more features and functionality you want for your eCommerce website, the higher the cost. Features like advanced search, product customization, user reviews, and inventory management require more development time and resources.
  • Design and user experience (UX): A well-designed and user-friendly website is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. Custom designs and intuitive UX elements might increase the cost of pre-made templates.
  • Platform selection: Choosing an eCommerce platform can significantly affect the cost. Some platforms are open-source (e.g., WooCommerce) with no initial licensing fees, while others (e.g., Shopify) have monthly subscription costs and transaction fees.
  • Integration with third-party services: If you require integration with external systems, such as payment gateways, shipping carriers, or CRM tools, it can add to the cost as it involves extra development effort.
  • Mobile responsiveness: Ensuring your website works well on various devices and screen sizes is essential. Creating a responsive design may increase costs but is necessary for reaching a broader audience.
  • Product database size: The number of products and categories you plan to offer affects the complexity of the website. A larger product database may require more backend resources and impact the overall cost.
  • Security and compliance: If your eCommerce website deals with sensitive customer information, you must invest in robust security measures and comply with data protection regulations. This might require additional security software and regular audits.
  • SEO and digital marketing: Investing in SEO-friendly features and marketing tools can enhance your website’s visibility. These elements may require additional development and can impact the overall cost.
  • Content Management System (CMS): Choosing the right CMS for managing your website content can influence the overall cost. Customizing a CMS to fit your specific needs might require more resources.
  • Maintenance and support: After the website’s launch, ongoing maintenance and support are essential. Budgeting for regular updates, bug fixes, and customer support is necessary to keep the site running smoothly.

Cost Breakdown of eCommerce Websites

Small Medium Large
Design <$1,000 $1,000-$5,000 $10,000-$80,000
Functionality <$2,000 $5,000-$12,000 $20,000- $100,000
Fulfillment Free $30 – $4O0 $5,000
Marketing $0-$500 $500-$2,000 $5,000
Maintenance $0-$500 $500-$1,250 $3,600-$12,000
Essentials $300 $6,000 $10,000

The table above explains how the cost varies from one case to another. It’s the functionality section where you could cut costs the most by going with SaaS eCommerce platforms such as Shopify or Advanced Shopify. SaaS models will save you a lot of time and money, but they aren’t the ideal option if you want your eCommerce store to stand out. On the other hand, the sky’s the limit in the case of custom development. There are no boundaries in terms of features, cost, and time.

Let’s have a closer look at the different elements of an eCommerce website, and how they impact the overall cost:

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Design: Cost of Website Cosmetics

Netizens have very short attention spans, thanks to the plethora of options available for everything. To make these individuals halt and make purchases, the store needs to be impressive from the get-go. And the design needs can very well be the factor that makes your website stand out from the rest and, therefore, drive more sales.

By leveraging different eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, one can build magnificent web design without spending a single penny. These platforms come with free themes that come in handy for those walking on a budgetary tightrope. Some of these free themes look amazing too; however, the cookie-cutter options eventually prove insufficient achieving only the bare minimum.

Another option is to get one of the paid themes. A Shopify app store would have plenty of themes that would cost you somewhere between $140 to $180. Such themes are more professional and rare compared to the free ones. Moreover, you can take them a couple of notches higher by customizing them. You can expect to shell out $1,000 for minor changes and branding the theme. And if you are looking to introduce a wider variety of changes, then the customization will cost north of $5,000.

For custom development, there is no limit to web designing cost. It all depends on how engaging you want the UX to be. If you’re a retailer planning to take your brick and mortar store online, then brand perception matters even more. Custom designing costs begin from $10,000 and go up to thousands of dollars. The eCommerce website pricing for design also varies with features. Numbers such as $30,000 and $75,000 aren’t exactly ludicrous for an eCommerce-website design.

Functionality: The Price Varies with Basic and Advanced eCommerce Features

With the design side sorted, let’s get to the core of an eCommerce website. No matter how simple or advanced the store you wish to create, it has to have some basic website features. The basic functionality marks the need for product management, shopping cart, a payment module, and other key features.

If you’re going for a simple eCommerce website, then you’ll discover that most features are already there. But who wants a cookie cutter store, right? Irrespective of the eCommerce platform you use, there will always be plenty of gaps in terms of functionality. 

eCommerce_website_features_costThis is where plugins and add-ons come in handy. You can easily find both free plugins and paid add-ons to improve the functionality of the large site. This is also where things get tricky. The free ones aren’t very good. Since a third-party worker usually develops paid apps, they don’t always go well with a website.

The solution, you ask? It’s customization! For that purpose, you can take the help of an experienced web development company or web development agency.

Basic features: SaaS platforms

Just the way it was with themes, you can also hire developers to build custom apps or add-ons for your site. They could even create one from scratch. The two options depend on what you need. The customization for basic eCommerce features on platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce can account for a significant cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

But there’s more — most eCommerce-website owners don’t want to settle just for basic features. After all, who would like an online store without a wishlist or a site that is unable to provide discounts? 

Advanced features: SaaS platforms

Customizing advanced features requires a bigger budget. If you have a decent eCommerce website budget, you should go with customization. The more functional the website, the easier it becomes to attract customers. For this bump, you’d need to pay an extra $5,000 to $12,000.

Having said that, there aren’t very many changes when you move from eCommerce platforms to custom eCommerce development, and the importance of basic and advanced features remains the same. 

Basic features: custom development

The average cost of primary-eCommerce features for custom development ranges between $20,000 and $30,000. They include features like product management, product categorisation, payment portal, and the like. 

Advanced features: custom development

However, if you wish to augment your basic custom eCommerce website with advanced features, this upgrade will cost  around $10,000 to $16,000. Discount management, personalized suggestions, wishlist management, and multiple languages are some of these advanced features.

Since this section is among the more expensive ones, put in the due diligence while choosing the right platform. Simform has a decade long experience in custom website development and can expertly guide you through the website development process.

Custom Shopping Cart 101: How to Implement It in the Most Profitable Way

Fulfillment: The Cost of Tying in Physical and Digital Ends of the Store

To run a successful eCommerce business, a great website  building is only half the battle won. You need to stay true to all the promises you made. This means delivering on time, upholding product quality, and providing competent customer service even after the purchase. And if you don’t hold your side of the bargain, you can’t stay in the game for long.

Fulfillment service is going to be the backbone to your eCommerce business. And even though it won’t have much to do with the website, you need to make sure that your fulfillment software is in sync with it. 

It should automatically update inventory status, send out notifications, seamlessly interact with delivery partners, and generate accurate invoices. And this list has just the bare minimum actions.

You can either get an eCommerce-fulfillment software or get one customized website developed. Most fulfillments come with a monthly subscription model or monthly subscription plan. It works well for most eCommerce startups as they can always scale later, thus, saving a handsome amount during initial stages. 

Options are available in quite the range. You can get one for as low as $30 per month and as high as  $400 per month. There are also a few which charge a one-time license fee. These alternatives could charge you around $5,000. And if you decide to get it custom developed, this cost will also be in the vicinity of $5,000

Marketing: Different Methods, Different Costs

So you did your homework and launched a great-looking website, but customers are not particularly flocking to it or raving about it. So what happened?.

Joel_Anderson_quoteYou have to attract shoppers to your eCommerce website, especially at the beginning to gain some traction. A lot falls under the marketing umbrella — everything from the web copy to a PPC campaign is capable of generating traffic.

Let’s start with basic SEO and copywriting. The accurate cost of copywriting is directly proportional to the number of pages and is more like a one-time investment. SEO, on the other hand, is a dynamic process: you need to keep at it for as long as the store is functional. SEO experts or SEO agencies can help you to monitor your website performance continuously.

SEO and copywriting will depend a lot on the scale of the website. If you’re one of the small business owners of an eCommerce startup with a limited budget, you can take care of them yourself. Just put in some effort, and you’re golden. No need to spend any money either!

Marketing plays a more prominent role for small to medium-sized businesses and average-sized eCommerce businesses. They go beyond SEO and invest in PPC campaigns, remarketing themselves, and other digital-marketing strategies. Some create blogs while others resort to email marketing. There are just so many ways to get the job done. 

The cost of marketing can amount up to $500 to $2,000 for a small store whereas it can shoot up in the range of $4,000 to $5,000 for bigger eCommerce websites.

ebook ecommerce checklist

Maintenance: Cost to Keep on Keeping on

Once the website is up and running, it will naturally require timely attention and maintenance. This is important because some flaws get exposed only after the website goes live with products. Plus, regular updates keep the website competitive.

Just like other aspects of building an eCommerce website, maintenance is also dependent on its scale. Smaller stores, especially those built on eCommerce platforms, don’t need extensive technical maintenance from your side. You can leave that to the service provider and focus on the business instead.

For sites with any extent of customization, maintenance is a critical part of the deal. Regular inspections and updates ensure everything runs smoothly, and you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises. 

Apart from tech-maintenance costs, there are expenses for store maintenance as well. Bigger businesses needs to train and employ customer-support executives to upgrade their service. Random bugs and glitches also add up to the website maintenance costs.

So if you have a small to medium-sized enterprise, expect to shell out around $500 to $1,250 per year on maintenance. And if you own a large eCommerce business with multiple products and huge traffic, the maintenance would cost in the whereabouts of $300 to $1,000 per month. 

Other Essentials: Miscellaneous Spendings

Let’s also discuss prerequisites. And these apply not just to eCommerce websites but to websites in general. 

First off, you’ll need a domain and hosting to get going. SaaS platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce normally include web hosting services within the plan. The hosting solutions provided by SaaS eCommerce platforms don’t need any effort to set up either. Everything is ready to use, and you can start working on the store right away. They even include an SSL certificate, which is a great perk. However, it’s a good idea to go through the details of their hosting plans carefully. The plans either come with a monetary limit on the sales or allow just their preferred payment gateway. 

For instance, Shopify API requires you to use Shopify payments. You’ll have to give up an additional 2% of the sale as payment processing costs or payment gateway fees if you go for any other third-party payment services. However, such small payment processing fees can compound to a considerable sum over time. So keep this detail in mind while scouting around for an eCommerce hosting plan.

The starting price for hosting on SaaS platforms begins at around $30 per month, and the premium plans can go up to $300 per month.

You also have the option of a self-hosted ecommerce website. You’ll find plenty of dedicated hosting servers that have specific plans catering to eCommerce websites. You can easily scale these plans as and when needed, and you pay only for what you use. The only downside of self-hosting is the tremendous legwork it needs. Even though the hosting provider will help you with the set up, you’ll still have to manage most things by yourself.

Self-hosting also comes with a wide range of plans that cost anywhere between $75 to $10,000 per year. It all depends on the scale of your website.

Cheaper hosting plans won’t include the SSL certificate, so you’ll have to get them separately. The higher-end SSL certificates which take care of everything have website pricing somewhere between $75 a year. Besides, your domain name will cost you between $7 and $15 a year. However, there are instances when domain names can go for thousands of dollars. It normally happens if you want to acquire a domain name that’s already. Pricing can vary according to the top-level domain you opt for. Lastly, there are hosting companies that offer a free domain name and SSL certificate.

How to calculate your eCommerce website cost?

Let us understand how to calculate the cost of your eCommerce website or storefront with a hypothetical example.

Step 1: Define your requirements and goals

Before you begin, clearly outline your eCommerce website’s requirements and goals. Consider the number of product categories, the desired design style, the specific functionality you need (e.g., product filters, search, user reviews), and your target market. These will impact the overall cost of your website.

Example: Let’s assume our hypothetical company, “FashionForward,” wants a trendy website design with product categories like clothing, shoes, and accessories. They want features such as size filters, customer reviews, and a user-friendly checkout process.

Step 2: Estimate design costs

Design costs get influenced by the complexity and creativity of your website’s visual elements, including logo, banners, and overall layout. Hire a skilled web designer or agency to create a customized design tailored to your brand.

Formula: Estimated Design Costs = Design Hourly Rate × Number of Design Hours Taken by a Web Designer

Example: FashionForward decides to work with a web design agency that charges $50 per hour, and they estimate the design process will take 100 hours. The estimated design cost would be $50 × 100 = $5,000.

Step 3: Calculate development costs

Development costs include frontend and backend development, setting up the shopping cart, and integrating payment gateways. The complexity of your required features and the website’s size will affect the total development cost.

Formula: Estimated Development Costs = Development Hourly Rate × Number of Development Hours

Example: FashionForward hires a development team that charges $80 per hour and estimates the development process will take 300 hours. The estimated development cost would be $80 × 300 = $24,000.

Step 4: Include functionality costs

If you need to add extra functionality beyond the standard eCommerce features, like a product recommendation system or social media integration, account for these costs separately.

Example: FashionForward wants to integrate a personalized product recommendation system, which costs an additional $3,000.

Step 5: Factor in fulfillment costs

Fulfillment costs cover inventory management, order processing, and shipping costs. Consider the storage, packaging, and shipping expenses if you’re handling these tasks in-house. Alternatively, you can opt for dropshipping, where a third party handles the fulfillment, which may impact your profit margins.

Example: FashionForward uses a third-party fulfillment service that charges $5 per order. They estimate fulfilling 500 orders per month, resulting in a monthly fulfillment cost of $5 × 500 = $2,500.

Step 6: Estimate marketing costs

Marketing is crucial to driving traffic and sales. Consider expenses for digital marketing, social media campaigns, influencer collaborations, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Example: FashionForward allocates a budget of $10,000 as upfront costs for their initial marketing campaigns.

Step 7: Account for maintenance costs

Maintaining your eCommerce website involves regular updates, security checks, and server costs. Estimate the ongoing monthly or yearly expenses for these tasks.

Example: FashionForward anticipates monthly maintenance costs of $200.

Step 8: Add other essential costs

Other miscellaneous expenses may include domain registration, SSL certificate, content creation, and customer support tools.

Example: FashionForward includes $500 for domain registration, SSL certificate, and content creation.

Step 9: Calculate the total cost

Now, add up all the costs from the previous steps to determine the final cost of building and running your eCommerce website for the first year.

Formula: Total Cost = Design Costs + Development Costs + Functionality Costs + Fulfillment Costs + Marketing Costs + Maintenance Costs + Other Essential Costs

Example: Total Cost = $5,000 + $24,000 + $3,000 + $2,500 + $10,000 + ($200 × 12) + $500 = $50,700.

Step 10: Consider future expenses

Remember that the first-year cost is just the beginning. In your long-term budget planning, you should consider future expenses like scaling up the website, updating the design, adding new features, and ongoing maintenance.

Following these steps, you can create a comprehensive estimate of the cost to build and run your eCommerce sites, allowing you to make informed decisions for your online fashion store, just like FashionForward in our hypothetical example.

How can Simform Help Build your eCommerce Website?

Building or augmenting your eCommerce website can become a daunting task very quickly. Naturally, you need a reliable and experienced partner to shoulder this responsibility. And when it comes to eCommerce-website development, Simforms ticks all the right boxes. 

Be it developing a custom website, working on a SaaS platform like Shopify or creating an eCommerce store on Magento, Simform has it covered. We use agile development methodology and sprint planning for swift delivery of projects. And during these developmental stages, you constantly remain aware of the progress with timely stand-ups and weekly demos. We’re a one-stop shop for all your responsive design, development, and maintenance needs.

Here are some definitive ways Simform can help in your next eCommerce project:

  1. eCommerce strategy and consulting: Get in touch with our eCommerce experts to devise the best strategy for your business. Receive realistic quotations and practical plans to take your store to the next level.
  2. Custom eCommerce-storefront design: Our designers create visually pleasing templates, which drive more sales. We can help bring all the right kind of attention to your store and enhance the brand image.
  3. Custom shopping-cart development: Say goodbye to the high rate of shopping-cart abandonment with our custom shopping carts that engage customers and prompt them toward the sale.
  4. CMS development: We can develop and integrate CMS (Content Management System) to your eCommerce website. Forget about multiple data points. You can even implement headless eCommerce if you want.
  5. 3rd-party integrations: There are so many moving parts to an eCommerce website that you eventually need 3rd party plugins to fill in the gaps. We will help you with development as well as integration of this nature.
  6. Dedicated ERP system: We will create a centralized solution to tie the physical and digital ends of your eCommerce business. An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is exactly what you need to bring fulfillment and functionality in sync.

So feel free to contact us with your eCommerce website development needs.

Let's build a highly performant e-commerce website!

Jignesh is Director of Sales at Simform leading through a consultative approach and aligning the right team for tech initiatives, and helping organizations achieve advanced digital engineering goals.

  1. Harry

    You mention "SaaS eCommerce platforms such as Spotify". I guess you mean Shopify

  2. Jignesh

    Thank you for pointing out, Harry. We have updated the draft.

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