It’s predicted that global eCommerce sales will reach $5 trillion in 2022.

Moreover, 95% of ALL purchases are expected to be made through eСommerce by 2040 (which might seem like a ways away but, sadly, isn’t).

There are two main reasons for this growth: the convenience of online shopping for consumers and reduced operational expenses of eCommerce stores compared to brick-and-mortar for owners. The pandemic has amplified the need for eCommerce and expedited its growth.

Today, it’s easier to launch an online store than ever before. However, the options can be daunting. There are so many things to choose from: dozens of eCommerce platforms, various POS systems, an endless number of suppliers, and so much more. And, on top of it all, is cost. No aspiring business owner enters the game without first asking this all-important question: “how much does an eCommerce website cost?” Today, we’re here to help you find some answers.

Types of eCommerce Websites

eCommerce is a vast field that comes in many shapes and sizes, including everything from Amazon and Walmart to small Etsy pages or Facebook stores. What these websites have in common, though, is that they all allow online transactions. In this article, we’ll only look at websites that enable online purchases and omit other commerce-related sites, such as affiliate and review sites. 

We’ll divide them into two main categories according to the number of sellers or stores within the platform:

  • Online store–There is a single seller who communicates directly with customers. It can be a single-brand store (Apple Store), retail (Sephora and Walmart), or a wholesaler (Costco).
  • Marketplace–There are multiple sellers on the platform, and you act as an intermediary between merchants and buyers. It can be a B2C model (Amazon and AliExpress), C2C (Airbnb), or C2B (Upwork). 

An online store has a different scale and complexity than a marketplace account, and will therefore be more expensive.

While selling on a marketplace only requires some basic customization of your online storefront, an independent seller shop requires an admin and customer section. But done well, this model will pay off much faster. After all, online store owners will keep a much greater portion of their revenue than those who sell through a marketplace.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Building Online Stores

The most significant factors that influence the price of website development are the following:

  • Features (standard and extra)
  • Integrations
  • Developing from scratch vs. premade templates
  • Hourly rate of developers
  • Payment processing

Let’s break down these components. 

eCommerce Features  

Like anything, the price will depend on the number of features and their uniqueness. Depending on your functionality requirements, a generic solution may be sufficient, but others might need a custom development team. Here are the most common features used for eCommerce: 

Standard features:

For customers:

  • Product catalog
  • On-site search
  • Shopping cart
  • Product reviews
  • Order management
  • Customer service chat
  • User profile creation
  • Tax and shipping calculation

For admin:

Extra features to include:

  • Personalization (product recommendation engines and personalized shopping feeds)
  • Advanced CRM
  • Automated email marketing
  • Abandoned cart reports
  • Specialized payment methods (digital and cryptocurrency wallets, escrow, payment in installments, etc.)

Integrations

Integrations are so important for eCommerce; they can make your website more user-friendly and improve work efficiency by removing manual data re-entry and cumbersome movement between different systems. Below are some of the most popular integrations of an eCommerce business:

  • POS integration with brick-and-mortar stores
  • Customer loyalty
  • Accounting system
  • Customer support system
  • Inventory planning software
  • Marketing automation software

Developing from scratch vs. premade templates

Most businesses have two possible scenarios for eCommerce website development: use off-the-shelf solutions and modify them or develop your website from scratch.

Website templates–Some services offer ready-made options for your platform (paid or free). While you can alter the design of certain components, it is nonetheless limiting in its potential scope. Here are a few types of pre-built solutions:

  • Open-source software for eCommerce (WooCommerce + WordPress and Magento)
  • SaaS eCommerce platform (Shopify and BigCommerce)
  • There are also pre-built scripts, like Codecanyon, that users can purchase and upload to their site.

Custom development– If you need something extraordinary that ready-made options cannot offer (e.g., complex, custom features or design), choose custom development. These are a better fit for bigger businesses that need a large variety of niche features.

As a rule, generic solutions significantly cut the development time and cost. However, this is only true if you require minor customization.

When starting to shop around, look at pre-built solutions first to determine if that option will be suitable for your online business. If not, seek a few quotes from eCommerce developers.

Hourly rates of developers

The developers’ role in building a website depends on whether you go completely custom or use a canned solution. Custom development can take months of work, while an off-the-shelf solution may be ready in a matter of hours.  

Regardless of the route you pick, the costs of hiring a web development team will most likely take up a large part of your budget. If you must use developers, the cost varies significantly depending on the geographical location of the team. 

A senior developer from the USA will charge you from $65 to $130 per hour. These higher prices drive many people to use offshore developers and save up to 70% of the cost. Check out this resource for some typical global developers’ rates.

Payment processing

Once you have your site up and running, you’ll need to decide on how you’ll process payments. It’s vital to find solutions that don’t lock you into unfavorable rates and long-term contracts.

And though it’s a necessary part of the process, there are a plethora of options out there for different types of businesses. Do your research and don’t settle on the first option that comes along – it can cost your business thousands of dollars.

Cost Estimation

Now that we’ve mentioned the major factors affecting the cost of an eCommerce website, let’s look at the total development cost. Below are ballpark estimates for different websites:

Online store cost 

For a typical online store, it rarely makes sense to develop a 100% custom website because you can use a canned solution with standard functionality at the start. The cost will largely depend on how much customization your webstore will require. 

At the moment, Shopify is the most popular eCommerce solution. If you want to build a basic Shopify store, it’ll cost $29 per month, including a new business starter pack and two staff accounts with a 2% transaction fee.

Marketplace cost 

Marketplaces are more complex than stores, so there are fewer generic options on the market. Such websites often have unique features that do not lend themselves to mass-market solutions. There are still scripts, open-source, and SaaS platforms for the most popular types of marketplaces. Regardless of the availability of pre-built solutions, the biggest part of the marketplace development budget will go to the web development team. Below are some marketplace cost estimates from international developers: 

  • Multi-vendor marketplace based on a script. The price for the development of a custom platform starts at $73,000. However, you can use white-label solutions and design templates to reduce the cost to $18,000–$25,000.
  • An enterprise website from scratch (think Airbnb or Walmart). A fully custom-developed platform with a complete set of features will cost $73,000–$123,000. A platform using minimum viable features and a white-label solution will cost $18,500–$24,500.

The more complexity and uniqueness you want, the higher the price. Consider your budget and preferences and decide if you need to hire a development team. Can you get away with an off-the-shelf solution? The latter option is a legitimate way to build a low-cost eCommerce website.

You’ll also need to consider where you’re sourcing the development. Some parts of the world offer more affordable rates for custom development, though you’ll likely have to deal with time zone differences and, potentially, communication barriers, project management issues, and fewer guarantees.

Wrapping up

It’s really not complicated to create a simple online shop these days. At the same time, it’s still remarkably difficult and costly to build a full custom solution. This wide range of options makes it difficult to fully predict the cost to create an online store.

In this article, we discussed the primary factors that influence the cost ‒ functionality, development path, and hourly rates of developers. We also provided you with estimates of the average cost of an eCommerce website.

Good luck with this new venture and click below to learn more about how KORONA POS and WooCommerce can work together to seamlessly connect your brick-and-mortar and online presences.

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