How Much Does an ecommerce Website Cost?

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Many of my clients ask “how much does an ecommerce website cost”.  While the initial design cost can be significant and an important factor, there are lots of costs that can exceed the cost of design in the first year.  Many are unexpected by the client when deciding on an ecommerce website design projetc.  Here are some costs to consider beyond just the initial website design cost.

Cost of  Domain Name

Not huge cost generally, but you need to consider at least $10 per year depending on how in demand your domain name is.

Cost of Hosting

Hosting can be significant.  Many clients want to use a cheap $10/month hosting plan for their ecommerce website.  This is generally a mistake.  They won’t be happy with the speed or performance of the site.  I generally recommend at least a VPS server (about $40/month) to host an ecommerce website.  A VPS server also allows you more control over the sever set up to make your site perform better.  If you have a very well trafficked site, (ie: thousands of visitors a month) you may want to consider a private server which can cost from $100/month to the sky is the limit depending on traffic and hardware performance.

Cost of SSL

You are going to need an SSL Certificate which encrypts your site and provides verification for credit card transaction.  This will cost you about $100/year.

Transaction Costs

While transaction cost are negotiable with your payment gateway based on volume, you’re going to want to budget about 3% transaction fee plus $0.30 per transaction.

Cost of Photography

Unless you are handy with the camera and have a lightbox and photo editing suite that you’re comfortable with, then you’ll have to hire some one to take product photos of your products and edit them so they’ll be suitable for your site.  Photographers can be booked by the day for around $1000 (prices vary) or there are services that take product photos for around $5 -$10 per photo.  iGo Sales and Marketing provides this service if you need it.

Support and Maintenance

An ecommerce website is not a “set it and forget it” type of website.  It’s dynamic.  There are database calls constantly to pull up pages on your site.  Your database needs to be optimized from time to time to reduce errors, crashes and speed up your site.  In addition, web browsers update, your server software updates, WordPress updates and Woocommerce updates and your plugins also update regularly.  This is necessary for security and also to make your site compatible with the latest software and hardware.  Plus, regular backups of your files and database are required in case of a hack or a crash.  Even for a small site you should budget around $100 per month for this kind of support.  If you have a large complicated site with lots of activity support goes up from there.  You can imagine Amazon has dozens of full time staff performing these types of tasks every day.  While you may not be Amazon, you still require this basic maintenance to be taken care of.

User Interface Improvements

From the moment you launch your ecommerce website, you’ll have clients complaining.  Either because something isn’t user friendly, or because it’s not obvious to the user how to do what they want on your site.  Checkouts, product placements, calls to action, etc. will have to be continually refined based on your clients input to improve user experience and  conversions.  This cost can be significant.  If you have a well trafficked site, you can expect to pay almost as much as the initial cost of the website in re-design and improvements in your first year.

 Cost of Advertising

Many clients forget this cost.  It’s always amazing to me when I meet with clients for the first time and many believe that as soon as their website turns on, the business will start rolling in.  The truth is, opening up a web store without any advertising is just like opening up a physical store without any advertising.  You won’t get any customers if you don’t have a strategy to advertise and get clients.  Thankfully, there are many options for getting traffic to your site including SEO (search engine optimization, Google Adwords Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media posting and advertising, etc.   Don’t forget about old fashioned TV, Radio, Print and Direct Mail.  They all work to increase traffic to your site.  iGo Sales and Marketing specializes in helping you drive traffic to your site.  Contact us to help you put together a promotional plan for your new site.

In terms of dollars and cents, if your selling a consumer product likes shoes, the cost per new client can be around $40 per new client.  For large B2B purchases, the cost of advertising per new client can be hundreds of dollars.  The cost and likely conversion rate has to be factored into your advertising plan for viability.

Cost of Speed

Speed costs!  As your ecommerce website grows, traffic will bog down your server making it unbearably slow.  Speed is directly linked to online conversions.  Many studies show this.  Addressing speed issues can be expensive.  There are many strategies you can implement to speed up your ecommerce website.  They all require either hardware expenditures or IT consulting time to implement.  Depending on your needs, you can spend a few thousand dollars to impact your speed in a significant way.  Some speed improving techniques are:

  • Implement a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  • Optimize images on your site
  • Serve up your images from a different domain  (ie: move your images to
  • Compress and combine your CSS and JavaScript
  • Upgrade your hosting hardware to faster processors and drives

Ongoing Additions and Updates

You will have the need to update inventory stock status, update pricing, add new products, etc. over time.  If you’re not tech savvy enough to do this on your own, you’d better budget for technical support to do this for you.  iGo Sales and Marketing offers many ecommerce support plans specifically designed for this purpose.  The cost varies by the size of your store and the extent of the updates required on an ongoing basis.

Design Costs

Initial design costs can vary depending on factors like: number of products, complexity of products (size, color or other variations) custom post types, calculators, sliders, lead collection forms, integration with external services like Mailchimp and Instagram, etc.  Expect eCommerce websites to start between $2500-$3500 and increase with complexity.  iGo Sales and Marketing has an online Website Design Quote form that will help you narrow down what you’re looing for in terms of a website design project.  We also recommend a Website Discovery Session where we help you plan out the specifications for a website before a comprehensive proposal is undertaken.

Need more help in putting together a budget for your business plan?

iGo Sales and marketing is here to help.  If you want to talk about cost for your business plan, you’re first consultation with iGo Sales and Marketing is always free.  Contact us for more details.

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