Ecommerce websites are some of the best ways to make money online. But in order to get one up and running, you'll probably need a partner agency on your side.
So just how much do ecommerce websites cost?
That's a complicated question — but at WebFX, we know the answer.
Total cost for ecommerce website: $3,000 - $27,000
But why is there such a wide range of costs?
Not all ecommerce sites are the same. If you want one with minimal functionality, it'll be more affordable than a world-class website.
If you want to learn more, keep reading, and give us a call at 888-601-5359.
Now that we've taken a look at the total cost for an ecommerce site, let's break down the individual factors.
Cost: $100 to $2,000+
The first major pricing factor is the number of pages that you want on your site. For ecommerce websites, that answer is almost always 250+.
That means your cost for pages will be significantly higher than websites that generate business leads from a handful of pages.
But at the same time, each page will probably pay for itself quickly with how many products you sell.
With that in mind, it's smart for your ecommerce site to have a unique page for each of your products. You could even get more than that once your business starts to pick up and you expand.
You'll also need category pages to show off all of your products. You may even decide to add personalized profile pages for customers who make accounts.
The choice is ultimately up to you — but your ecommerce website will have a lot of pages.
This means more of an up-front investment, but with more potential for revenue in the long run.
Cost: $250 to $20,000+
The overall design of your ecommerce website is another critical factor to success.
The design of your site is the first impression that you make on new visitors. If your design looks sloppy or outdated, potential customers will think that your company is the same way.
That means you'll lose customers left and right. So to make sure that doesn't happen, you need a web design style that fits your brand.
Web design styles are frequently broken into four categories: Simple, Moderately Stylized, High End, and World Class.
Simple websites look fine and function the way you'd expect. There aren't many surprises, but it's a solid start to a website.
Moderately Stylized sites take a few more liberties and do more with the space they have available. That could mean extra graphics, a more robust color scheme, or other additional design elements.
High End websites are characterized by a professional and distinguished appearance. They're clean-cut with high-resolution images and color schemes that are appropriate for the website's primary demographic.
Finally, there are World Class websites. These sites are designed to go above and beyond the competition by utilizing interactive elements, high-resolution images, videos, and a whole range of intuitive features.
A World Class website not only gives users a perfect shopping experience — it also earns awards.
In other words, if you're looking to be the next Amazon, a World Class website is for you.
On the other hand, if you simply want to serve your customer base, you can get by with a Simple or Moderately Stylized website.
Cost: $50 to $500 per page
Copywriting is an essential for any website, and that includes ecommerce.
Fortunately, ecommerce companies don't need as many text-only pages as other websites.
The main pages you have to worry about are terms and conditions, privacy conditions, and other technicalities like that.
If you want, you can also create pages that let you target specific parts of your market. For example, if you wanted to get more traffic from Seattle, you could create a page called “Buying [your products] in Seattle” or something along those lines.
Copywriting costs are based on what you want on your pages and how much you want to add.
Still, the money you spend is worthwhile. Shorter pages are great for conveying information in a few seconds, and longer pages are better at succeeding in search engines.
Using a strategic mix of both pages can earn lots of new traffic — and new customers — for your ecommerce site.
Cost: $300 to $1,500 per month
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website so that it shows up better in Google search results.
It's also a major factor in the success of your ecommerce site over the long haul. If you want to earn more revenue, then you have to be able to attract customers that use search engines.
Otherwise, you won't have the steady stream of new and repeat customers that you need to survive.
However, SEO will cost you per month. Ranking well in search engines requires a lot of ongoing work so that your competitors don't bump you out of Google results.
That means SEO isn't a once-and-done endeavor. You have to continually work on your site so that you continually earn new customers.
If you don't, you'll simply fall behind your competition.
Cost: $2,500 to $20,000
Today, responsive design is a necessity for any ecommerce website. No matter what you sell, you'll have shoppers that are looking at your site from their phones, tablets, or even watches.
You need to accommodate them, especially since they make up about half of all Internet traffic today.
Responsive design does that. With responsive design, your ecommerce website will automatically fit and conform to whatever device a person is using to shop.
So if someone's looking at your site on a smartphone, they'll get a great shopping experience with large buttons, perfect layout, and full functionality.
If someone's shopping on your site via laptop, they'll get a great shopping experience that's designed for them too.
Responsive design is the win-win that the Internet has always needed — especially ecommerce sites.
If you don't have a responsive site, you risk losing up to half of your potential customer base.
That's a big loss for any company, and it makes it that much harder to grow your site.
Cost: $5,000 to $25,000 per integration
Database integration is typically optional for a website — but it's mandatory for ecommerce sites.
Database integration allows your company to store information about your products, employees, and customers all in one area.
So if you want your whole company to have access to a universal hard drive that stores corporate information, you need database integration.
But you also need database integration for customers. A database lets your customers create accounts, set preferences, and enjoy a more personalized experience on your site.
If you want, you can also use database integration to store credit card numbers so customers don't have to re-enter them.
Or, if you don't want to bark up that tree, you could simply use it to store your customers' usernames and passwords.
Whether you want to streamline company communication or simplify your customers' shopping experience, database integration is a must.
Cost: $500 to $5,000
Since you're creating an ecommerce site, you'll naturally need all of the functionality that goes along with that.
Some of that functionality includes shopping carts, checkout processes, customer identity protection, and personalization.
You may also want to show multiple images of the same product or even videos that demonstrate how certain products should be used. Some items may also come with supplemental information like specification sheets, MSDS sheets, and other literature that — by law — must accompany the product listing.
Determining all of that can take some time, and it's best to consult a web designer or developer for the best way to proceed for your specific website.
But it's still smart to think about these ideas ahead of time. There's a lot of work that goes into making an ecommerce site that's effortless for your customers.
Cost: $0 to $15,000+ per year
A content management system (CMS) is a user-friendly interface that lets you make changes to your website without directly changing your website's code.
Some CMS programs are free, like Drupal or Magento. Others can cost a little money every year, and even more are downright expensive.
But while cost is important, it shouldn't be your deciding factor. The biggest factor you need to consider is what kind of functionality you need for your ecommerce site.
Since you're going to add new categories and product pages, you want all of them to look consistent. That lets you reinforce your brand and create a familiar, convenient experience for your users.
With that in mind, your CMS is an important decision that you should consider carefully. Look through what every company offers, consider your future plans, and go with the option that makes the most sense — even if it costs a little more than you'd like.
Now that we've touched on each cost factor of the calculator, let's address some of the general costs associated with a website.
Bill Craig WebFX President
While the above calculator will give you a good idea about how much you'll need to spend on a website, you also have to think about all of the other costs associated with owning a website.
We'll dive into these costs below so you can be sure you're 100% prepared for how much an ecommerce website costs.
Cost: $5 to $15 per year
Your domain name is your company's home online. It's a part of your overall brand, and without it, you simply can't make a website.
When you're buying a domain name, you can find them for as little as $5 per year. You can usually buy a domain for up to 10 consecutive years to keep it in your control as well.
But if you want a short domain name with “.com” at the end, you could wind up paying a little more, like $15 per year.
In very rare instances, domain names can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars. But most of the time, they'll sell between $5 and $15 per year.
It's also important that you set up your domain to automatically renew. That way, you at least get an email telling you that you need to re-up your purchase — even if you're using a credit card with an upcoming expiration date.
Some domain name services also allow you to use your bank account information so you don't have to worry about expiration dates.
But the method of payment you choose doesn't make a difference in the price — it's purely convenience.
Cost: $75 to $200 per year
Once you have a domain, you need someone to host it.
Hosting services let Internet users access your website. They provide space on their servers for your website so that you can develop it.
Some companies sell domain names and hosting in a package deal, like WordPress or SquareSpace. But most companies that sell both often also make use of templated websites, which make your website look like everybody else's.
The best thing to do is to find a host that lets you build your own customized website from the ground up. That way, your brand has a unique web presence that distinguishes it from your competitors.
Still, there's a pretty big price difference for hosts. That's because some hosts offer support and additional features for your site, while others only give you server space.
Support may not sound like much up front, but it's essential when you have a large ecommerce site. If something goes wrong with your website, you want to have a number to call so you don't lose a day's worth of business.
In other words, getting low-cost hosting means you won't get much support. But when you spend for quality, it can pay off throughout the life of your site.
Cost: $250 to $10,000
Flash and multimedia elements are great ways to add visual interest to your site.
Flash is famous throughout the Internet because of its incredible level of customization. In the right hands, Flash can become the single most significant part of your website.
However, Flash comes with a drawback — search engines can't read the code inside of it. So if you're going to use Flash, it's important that you use it sparingly, as opposed to using it for the majority of your site.
Multimedia — like video — is also handy for your site. You can use multimedia to complement product listings, photos, and descriptions so your customers get a better idea of what an item does.
Using video also opens up the possibility to use YouTube and other social networks to promote your website. That kind of eye-catching content works wonders when you want to attract new customers.
$500 to $1,250 per year
Just like how construction crews repair and maintain roads, your website needs maintenance to keep it operating at the perfect levels.
Ecommerce website maintenance includes fixing any bugs that pop up, introducing new elements to certain parts of your site, and generally keeping your site in working condition.
It may cost a little more than you want to spend, and you may not see the benefits of it right away, but website maintenance is important.
Without website maintenance, it's just a matter of time before your site experiences issues. That could be in the form of a checkout bug, a graphical error on your product images, or even non-responsive pages.
Regardless of what happens, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner that'll keep your site working day after day.
Unfortunately, there's no “right” for how much you should expect to spend on an ecommerce site.
Instead, you have to think about your company, your goals, and what you want to achieve.
Then, take another look at the items we mentioned above. Determine how each one can help you achieve your business's objectives.
Better yet, figure out how much of each item you'd need for your site to grow.
Because when you're working in ecommerce, your goal shouldn't be to simply succeed — your goal should be to grow above and beyond your competitors.
These are some of the most common questions new ecommerce website owners have to ask themselves.
If you don't have the answers for these questions right now, there's no reason to worry — it's just important that you take your time and figure them out before you spend big on an ecommerce website.
If yes, use an appropriately-priced host.
If no, look at free hosting options.
If you need a lot of versatility and functionality, go with the best in the business.
If you only need to add a product now and then, go with something basic.
If you want to give lots of control with personalization, go for maximum functionality and database integration.
If you want to give minimal control, only store usernames and passwords.
If you want to distinguish yourself from your competition, go for World Class design.
If you simply want to sell and compete, go with something more affordable.
If you need a lot, prepare to buy lots of pages.
If you only need a few, downgrade appropriately.
If you want to target lots of different niches in your customer base, you'll need lots of text-only pages.
If you're happy only targeting your current customer base, you don't need many text-only pages.
If you want the page to rank in search engines, your pages should include thousands of words.
If you want the page to answer questions quickly, your pages can be significantly shorter.
If you want to beat all of your competitors, you'll need a lot of SEO support.
If you're just looking to compete, basic SEO may suit your needs.
If you want to use interactive or unique elements on your site, you'll need Flash.
If you want a site that's fully readable by Google and other search engines, don't use any Flash.
If you want to store any information from your customers, you absolutely need database integration.
Unfortunately, there's not much of an option here — your ecommerce website requires some degree of integration.
If you want to continually generate a profit and provide a positive user experience to your customers, website maintenance is essential.
It's basically an insurance policy against every possible problem.
At WebFX, we have a full team of award-winning web designers and developers who have created some of the most stunning websites you can find online.
We've earned first-place distinctions from the Horizon Web Design Awards for the work of our web design team, and we've maintained that same standard for excellence since WebFX was founded in 1997.
Do you want to start an ecommerce website?
Contact us today to create an ecommerce website that's built to last!
Find out how WebFX can create an effective Internet marketing strategy for your website. Call 888-601-5359 or contact us online today for a free evaluation.