How much does an eCommerce website cost to build and host? You probably guessed there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. In fact, the costs could range from $5 thousand to more than $5 million, depending on the platform and requirements.
But pricing a custom eCommerce website goes beyond the initial web development price. Consider costs associated with continued investments in improved functionality, user experience enhancements, marketing, and security.
The eCommerce development price range could be anywhere from about $5,000.00 to millions of dollars. Let’s just use $350,000.00 as a theoretical first phase upper limit. Atlantic BT generally recommends breaking work down into manageable chunks no matter what the scope is, and $350k is a manageable piece of a larger project.
To narrow the costs down based on your needs, read through the key areas that influence cost below and then check out the cost summary tables at the bottom of this article. To see how much a custom application will cost in another industry, try our web application cost guide.
How eCommerce Platforms impact cost.
Depending upon how simple or complex the eCommerce platform is and what the licensing costs might be, costs may vary dramatically for similar functionality.
Your choices include industry-specific solutions, integrated solutions based on ERP systems, and software as a service (SaaS) offerings designed to be comfortable for business owners to setup and configure themselves. If you would like more detail about eCommerce platforms, we wrote a helpful guide to selecting an eCommerce platform as well as an eCommerce requirements worksheet.
At the lowest cost, if you don’t need any outside help, some SaaS offerings start at $20-$30 a month (my colleague John Proctor gave an excellent interview about these platforms and how to get started).
More configurable and customizable offerings like Magento and Magento Enterprise are not designed to be setup by a business owner who lacks technical expertise. At a minimum, you are likely to spend $5,000 with a good domestic vendor to set up your store and incorporate basic configurations and training.
How web design choices impact eCommerce cost.
Many platforms, and especially SaaS offerings, have design galleries, themes, or templates you can apply to your site easily. While these may not be a perfect fit for your business or dramatically set you apart from competitors, these templates are a quick and cheap option.
Expect to spend from $0 to $250 to purchase a theme and another $1,000 to $2,000 making minor changes and customizations (more than just a logo change, but not a custom design either).
When you get into custom design, the sky is the limit on possible expenses. Similarly, a custom theme may cost $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the specifics, requirements, and depth of the process.
How custom programming and functionality impact cost.
Many platforms provide module or extension support, which allows you to use functionality that was developed by someone else on your website (for a much lower cost than you could develop it yourself).
Before developing custom features, always check to see what extensions are available before writing custom code. Be prepared, however, for some of the extensions to be poorly written or implemented. Atlantic BT always audits/evaluates extensions for quality, security, features, and support before recommending them to clients.
Outside of known extensions, custom development can get expensive quickly. A good eCommerce agency will develop code that is reliable, thoroughly tested, and secure. While this is more costly than just tossing it together as quickly as possible, your custom code will hold up better over time. For instance, extensions can break when you upgrade the core system, so poor code can be expensive later even if it works at first.
For a primer in how to consider these questions on a Magento platform, here are 5 questions to ask before starting a Magento store.
How web hosting impacts eCommerce costs.
Hosting costs are more predictable and less variable than others. SaaS offerings will typically include some level of hosting in their packages. You will want to check the included limits for things such as storage, traffic, products, customers, and orders.
These solutions start out cheap become more expensive as your sales grow and needs expand. You can plan on at least $20 – $250 a month in hosting costs before growing out of a typical SaaS solution.
Hosting for a custom eCommerce system will probably start around $300 a month for decent service and support, but probably won’t provide true PCI (credit card security) compliance. We wrote a helpful primer on eCommerce payment security that will help you understand what you need to know.
For a successful site driving large volumes of traffic (with average requirements for redundancy, speed, scale, and security) hosted in a cloud or grid environment, hosting could cost upwards of $1,000 – $2,000 a month.
Breaking down the full costs of an eCommerce website.
Considering all the aforementioned variables, there is no quick answer to the cost of developing an eCommerce site. However, this chart will give you an idea of the combined costs that might apply to your situation:
Software as a Service eCommerce
(small catalog, light traffic)
|Setup/Config||<$250||$0 – $1,000||$0 – $2,000|
|Training||$0-$500||$0 – $500||$0 – $500|
|Total Setup*||< $2,000||< $6,500||< $10,000|
|Total Annual*||< $1,000||< $1,800||$2,000 +|
* Totals do not include other items important to the success of your site such as marketing and content creation including product descriptions and product photos.
(small catalog, no custom programming, off-the-shelf theme, light traffic)
(small catalog, light custom programming, customized theme, medium traffic)
(systems integration, large catalog, custom programming, custom design, high traffic)
|Licensing||< $500||< $5,000||$5,000 – $100,000|
|Design||< $3,000||$5,000 – $10,000||$10,000-$150,000+|
|Custom Development||< $500||$2,000 – $5,000||$10,000 – $150,000+|
|Setup/Config||<$3,000||$2,000 – $5,000||$2,000 – $10,000+|
|Training||$500 – $1,000||$500 – $2,000||$500 – $5,000+|
|Maintenance (monthly)||$500+||$1,000 – $2,000||$2,000 – $5,000+|
|Total Setup*||< $11,000||$15,500 – $29,000||$30,500 – $422,000+|
|Total Annual*||< $12,000||$18,000 – $30,000||$36,000 – $84,000|
* Totals do not include other items important to the success of your site such as marketing and content creation, including product descriptions and product photos.