Setting up any website has costs to take into account, and this is particularly true if you’re aiming to enter the eCommerce marketplace.
So what can you expect to spend to turn your shopping site from a concept to a tangible, transactional service that’s ready to welcome its first customers?
Considering platform costs
Almost no eCommerce site on the market today runs on its own platform developed in-house. This is because there are tons of robust, affordable and well-established solutions out there already to act as the foundation.
Of course each platform has its perks and pitfalls, as well as targeting different types of business users. For example, there are all-in-one solutions like Shopify which offer several tiers of license suited to everyone from individual sellers to large businesses, with prices starting at $10 to $20 per month and rising to $2,000 or more for enterprise grade setups.
Then there are open source platforms like Magento, which don’t come with licensing costs, but do require that you take charge of every other element involved in building a site around them.
Calculating Magento pricing is therefore a bit more complicated, but does provide more flexibility than the proprietary alternatives.
Handling hosting costs
There are two main aspects of web hosting which cost you cash; the storage of the data that makes up your site, and the domain name which represents it and by which customers can find it in their browser of choice.
Again, the platform you pick can influence this, with the all-encompassing services often coming with a hosting package built in with the other aspects of a bundle. However, you can choose a third party host instead, and it’s usually best to combine hosting and domain name costs together.
What you’ll pay for hosting is not just down to the provider, but the size of your site and the amount of traffic it receives. A basic deal for a small site can come with hosting costs of under $100 annually, while a sprawling site with hundreds of product pages and millions of monthly visitors might require a hosting spend of $10,000 or more each year.
Breaking down site building costs
If you have a shoestring budget and you want to launch an eCommerce site, using a basic site builder and relying on standard templates is sensible, as this could be free at best, or cost you a couple of hundred bucks at worst.
If you want to let a professional handle this, then your choice is between a freelance web designer, or a dedicated agency.
Freelancers will be more affordable, but might have longer lead times to contend with. Agencies will eat into more of your budget, but will have the peoplepower to get a project off the ground quicker.
Outsourcing the design and construction of your site could cost less than $1,000, but it’s better to be more realistic and expect a spend of $3,000+ if you are serious about making this business venture work.
Exploring marketing & more
There are lots of ways to market a shopping site, from SEO tweaks that help it to become organically discoverable on search engines, to social media campaigns which focus on platforms that are right for your brand and audience.
Costs here are just as variable as elsewhere, depending on whether you choose to do the hard work yourself, or pay someone else to tackle it in your place.
One often overlooked cost is product photo retouching. Achieving professional-looking images often requires retouching to enhance colors, remove imperfections, and make them more visually appealing. Depending on your skills and resources, you may handle this in-house or outsource it to a professional. Work out retouching costs early on to ensure your product images are optimized and visually engaging for your customers.
All of this means that you need to have a realistic budget to start off with, and cost out every aspect of your eCommerce site before you spend any money, to avoid nasty surprises.