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A Comprehensive Guide for Ecommerce Website Cost in 2021 (with Comparisons)

October 27, 2021

14 Min Read
ecommerce website cost

Creating an ecommerce website can greatly maximize your brand reach. Moving your business online not only makes it more accessible to the target audience, but it also lets you tap undiscovered audience pools.

So what does it take to shift your business online. In this article, I will discuss the relative ecommerce website costs of moving your business online. I will highlight the tools and platforms that you can explore in order to pick the best fit for your requirements and technical skills.

While there are several ecommerce platforms that you can use, our primary focus shall be on WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify. These are the largest ecommerce platforms in terms of users and are incredibly popular.

How to Calculate the Cost of Your Ecommerce Website

There are several important factors that come into play when you want to determine the ecommerce website cost for your business. First and foremost, you have to determine which platform to choose.

For instance, WooCommerce and Magento are both free to use. Shopify, on the other hand, is a paid platform. They offer you a 14-day trial version. WooCommerce is also a plugin, but you can’t use it to the fullest without buying a domain name and suitable WooCommerce hosting.

The same applies for Magento.

The ecommerce website price varies depending upon the features that you want in your website. In order to get more reliable estimates, we have focused on different factors that play a role.

The ecommerce website cost is essentially the sum of all the development costs, the hosting costs, and the initial costs that will be spent in the beginning to take the website off the ground.

Here are some key factors to consider.

  1. Development and Design Costs
  2. Hosting Cost
  3. Payment Processing
  4. Cost of Add-Ons

1. Development and Design Costs

The rapid rate of expansion of the ecommerce industry means that you have to think outside the box to come up with an engaging design for your ecommerce website. A good user interface and interesting design is very important.

By giving your website a clean and user-focused look, you will be able to attract more customers.

Thankfully, most ecommerce platforms understand that store owners want something that looks neat and clean.

Magento Development & Design Costs

Magento Development Costs

Magento is an open-source platform, so you can easily customize the themes on your own. There are some basic features that each Magneto theme offers, such as a responsive website layout, easy installation, and support for multiple languages.

Apart from that, you have creative control. Magneto 2 allows you to install themes through Composer or you can even upload the files manually.

You can also buy Magento themes from third-party marketplaces like ThemeForest. Prices for decent Magento 2 themes start from around $99, but they can go high.

Due to the level of customizability, you can always buy a theme and set it up on your own. Or, you can hire a developer and create a custom theme. If you choose the latter, your costs for design are likely to start from $500.

WooCommerce Development & Design Costs

WooCommerce Development Costs

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that is absolutely free to use. WordPress, for those who don’t know, is one of the most popular website builders in the world. There are literally thousands of different themes available for you to choose from. Basically, any WordPress theme can be customized to work with WooCommerce.

There are WordPress themes starting from just under $20, and there are themes costing $100 and more. It primarily depends on the level of customization that you want and the features that you require.

It’s important for you to backup your WordPress site frequently to ensure that you don’t lose data. If you choose WooCommerce, you won’t have to spend a lot on setting up the theme.

There are also several third-party platforms that sell themes on discounts as well. Custom themes are more expensive, starting from $1,500.

There are some enterprise level themes that cost upwards of $30,000.

You can also access a host of page building plugins for WordPress which come with drag and drop tools to create all kinds of product pages and landing pages. It takes hardly a few minutes to do that.

There are also plenty of web design agencies that you can hire if you want someone to professionally develop your website.

Shopify Development & Design Costs

Shopfy

And finally, you have Shopify. Shopify has an assortment of several free and paid themes, and as you can expect, the paid themes are obviously more intuitive and packed with more features.

The number of Shopify themes is considerably low when you compare it with the thousands of WooCommerce themes available or those for Magento, which is entirely open-source.

On average, you can expect to pay around $120 for a Shopify theme. Custom designs are going to run the costs incredibly high, with developers charging upwards of $5,000 for website themes, exclusive of other website development costs.

In some cases, the costs can balloon to more than $25,000. It all depends on the detail and the range of features that you want on your website, as well as design complexity.

2. Hosting Solution

Your ecommerce website cost is also going to be affected by the hosting you choose. You need reliable ecommerce website hosting to handle the influx of traffic on your website and to ensure pages load up quickly.

Keep in mind that WooCommerce and Magento are both self-hosted solutions. This means that you can choose whichever hosting provider you want.

Shopify, on the other hand, is a hosted ecommerce platform. You will have to choose their hosting program if you want to use the platform. Their costs are as follows:

Shopify pricingOn the other hand, you can choose Cloudways for your Magento or WooCommerce powered website. Naturally, since you have freedom to choose whichever host you like, the cost is lower. Here’s the Cloudways pricing plan:

Cloudways Pricing

3. Payment Processing

These are the costs associated with processing payments on your website. Usually, almost all payment processors charge a small transaction fee for their services, though they vary. Let’s find out the different payment costs.

Payment Costs in Magento

Magento supports a range of payment providers, including offline and online payments. All major payment processors like Braintree, PayPal, and Klarna are supported. You can also set up Stripe on your Magento site.

However, expect to pay a fee to the developer for integrating the API for any payment processor you choose.

Payment Costs in WooCommerce

WooCommerce is also open source, and supports more than 100+ payment gateways. They have a host of extensions available on their platform that you can choose and integrate on your website with ease.

In fact, they even have support for regional payment providers, which is excellent for smaller ecommerce websites targeting customers in specific geographical locations.

There’s no cap on the number of sales either. You don’t have to worry about transaction fees. Some of the major supported payment gateways include:

  • Amazon Pay
  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Braintree
  • Affirm
  • Authorize.net
  • PayFast
  • WooCommerce Payments
  • eWay

Payment processors like PayPal charge 2.9% and 30 cents for each transaction above $10. Stripe takes 2.9% as well with an additional 30 cents.

Payment Costs in Shopify

Shopify has its own Shopify Payments gateway, but there are several other options available to you. The company supports payments from hundreds of different processors, including Amazon Pay, Katapult, Skrill, Stripe, DigiPay, Coinbase, Braintree, and Bread. Here’s a look at some of the many payment processors that they support:

Shopify payment

It’s important to note that Shopify charges 2.9% + 30 cents for each transaction through Shopify Payments. For all other gateways, the company charges a 2% fee on each transaction, along with any fee paid to the processor.

4. Cost of Add-Ons

You cannot expect ecommerce platforms to put everything in one basket. Depending upon the nature of your website, you will need to choose features that fit in well.

That’s where plugins and add-ons come into play.

Costs of WooCommerce Add-Ons

You simply can’t beat WooCommerce when it comes to plugins and addons. Because it’s WordPress-powered, you get access to more than 55,000 plugins. We have compiled a list of more than 250 WordPress plugins that you may want to use.

Some plugins are free, while others cost money. Prices for enterprise level plugins can go as high as $299, though most paid plugins start from around $19.

If you want custom features, you can expect to pay anywhere between $400-$8,000.

Costs of Magento Add-Ons

Magento extensions can cost anywhere between $50 to $1,000. Prices usually vary depending upon the features of the extension and the cost charged by the agency.

Just like their themes, you can also build extensions on your own. But, for this purpose, you will need a team of developers with considerable knowledge of Magento.

Costs of Shopify Add-Ons

Shopify has a very secure marketplace with all kinds of addons. They start from free, but there are many paid versions too. Most of these charge on the subscription model, so expect to pay a monthly fee.

Shopify even gives you the ability to run custom apps that you have designed primarily for your store. They are stored on a separate server, but you can create a custom API and use them in tandem with your Shopify store.

If you want a custom app, it’s going to cost you upwards of $5,000 for your Shopify store.

Total Cost of Building an Ecommerce Website

The total cost of building an ecommerce website is going to vary based on several factors.

WooCommerce – pricing starts from free, though it can go as high as $5,000 depending upon the number of additional extensions and plugins that you choose from.

Magento – this is free to use and completely open-source, but the costs of hiring a developer and designing the website, along with the theme, could balloon to around $3,000-$5,000.

Shopify – pricing starts from $1,000 and can go higher than $10,000 depending upon the size and scale of your website. Prices continue to increase as your sales start to grow.

Keep in mind that if you choose WooCommerce or Magento, you will also have to pay for hosting. If you choose Cloudways as your hosting platform, the pricing is highly flexible and scalable.

Tips for Keeping the Ecommerce Website Design Cost Low

If you’ve been browsing the internet to get an idea of the cost of creating an ecommerce website, you’ll stumble across online ecommerce website cost calculators.

At best, the numbers generated by these tools are a hit or a miss as the cost varies because of location, design, and functionality of the website and type of the hosting solution.

Let’s take a slightly old-school approach and look at the cost of each item on the list and see the upper and lower limits of these cost items.

We have already published detailed articles on the costs involved in building WooCommerce and Magento powered websites.

1. Price Estimates for Creating a Custom Design

This is the first step of setting up your ecommerce website (assuming you already have a business plan ready). This is where you’ll want to customize a theme and create a completely custom design for your website.

Picking the theme is often the starting point of the custom design project. You can find dedicated marketplaces for themes for WooCommerce, Magento, and multiple content management systems from ThemeForest, Magento Marketplace, and TemplateMonster. These templates can bring your ecommerce website cost to $100 to $200.

Custom Design

You can expect to spend somewhere between $1,500 to $5,000 for a custom design. However, the cost can shoot up to $10,000 to $50,000 for an enterprise-level custom design which consists of multiple internal pages for products and product categories.

2. Price of Developing Your Ecommerce Website

Now that the design is built, the next step is to bring the design to life. This is done through the code that connects all the dots and acts as the “muscles” that power the ecommerce websites.

The starting point of the development process is the choice of the platform. The popular choices are WooCommerce and Magento. However, large scale multifront stores are built on a custom PHP foundation (that cost a whole lot more that CMS based development). Other steps in the development process could include:

  • Developing the integrated inventory management component
  • Testing and finalizing the payment gateway and payment methods
  • Testing and finalizing the plugins or extensions

Hiring a developer can cost you anything between $15 – $30 per hour with an upper limit of $150 for fully customized development from ground-up. Hence, hiring a developer can significantly impact your ecommerce website development cost.

3. Cost of Acquiring a Domain

If you want people to visit your online store, you’re going to need a domain name that acts as the address for the store. A domain adds about $10 – $20 to your ecommerce website cost, depending upon the domain registrar, TLD, and whether you’re buying the domain from a third-party.

4. Choosing the Right Hosting Plan

When considering a hosting solution, always consult your developers to find a good match of the developers’ requirements and avoid surprises when the website goes live. That’s because hosting can also be a major contributor to your ecommerce website cost.

You need a hosting solution that offers an easy entry point in terms of costs and is able to keep pace with the growth of your business. In addition, you need a solution that allows you to keep your focus on your business processes.

As mentioned earlier, I recommend managed cloud hosting because you get all the power and features of cloud hosting without the hassles of managing the servers. While you can easily spend as much as hundreds of dollars a month on hosting solutions, you can start from double digits and then progress upwards.

Hosting prices

If you’re using Magento, you should opt for a 2GB server at minimum because of the higher requirements of server resources. Anything below 2GB is inadequate and your server would crash with your visitors seeing 404 Page Not Found and 502 Bad Gateway errors.

TIP: The close the server location is to your audience, the better the website performance

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5. Picking Plugins and Extensions From the Marketplace

Plugins and extensions extend the capability of your core application and allow you better leverage the power of the application for your business.

Popular ecommerce platforms such as Magento and WooCommerce support a wide range of plugins and extensions, available from official and third-party marketplaces.

Experts suggest using plugins and extensions developed by trusted developers with a track record of performance and secured products. As you see from the following screenshot of the WooCommerce Extension collection, the extensions add ready-made solutions for common business challenges.

WooCommerce extension

You’ll find more details on installing WordPress ecommerce plugins and WooCommerce plugins in our blog. Some extensions and plugins are free while others are paid. You can expect to pay anything from $10 to $300 for plugins and extensions as part of ecommerce website cost.

The same applies to Magento where several popular development agencies provide industry-standard extensions that integrate everything from payment processors to store-level cache into the Magento stores. These extensions are a bit more expensive with prices starting from $30 and going all the way to $500 and beyond.

6. Cost of Marketing Agency vs DIY

When it comes to marketing your business, you can either hire an agency or choose to go the DIY way. What’s the difference and how does it impact your business? Let’s take a look how marketing impacts the cost of an ecommerce website.

Here in the tables below, I’ve elaborated on different marketing activities and their relative cost according to two separate tiers of agencies. Tier-1 agency has been in business for the last 20 years or so, and provides complete support. While tier-2 agency works on a nickel and dime model with lower upfront costs than Tier-1 agency.

Note: these quotes are estimates and are subject to change based on location and time.

Marketing Activity Tier 1 Agency (Monthly) Tier 2 Agency (Monthly)
Content Marketing $5,500 $5,000
Blogging $2,000 $1,500
Paid Social Media $4,400 $4,000
Pay Per Click / Google Ads $6,200 $6,000
Search Engine Optimization $2,000 $1,800
Total $20,100 $18,300

Now let’s compare this to the recruitment cost of building your own in house marketing team. These prices are rounded off estimates from multiple sources online, hence, they may be subject to change.

Specialist Approximate Salary (Yearly)
Data Analyst $67,000
Social Media Manager $55,000
Marketing Manager $81,000
Graphic Designer $48,000
Digital Marketing Manager $73,000
Copywriter $80,000
Web Designer $57,000
Total $461,000

The interesting part of all this, is when you choose to perform marketing activities on your own. If you’re planning to run a DIY method of marketing, you can set aside $4000 to $8000. You can designate about $4000 for paid social media promotions and about $8000 – $12000 on ad spend.

Now that you understand how much marketing can cost you, I’ve decided to help you understand the popular tools, resources that are commonly used in the community. Two of my colleagues have written an in-depth blog post about these best startup tools that help growing businesses. Additionally you can also read up on this list of tools agency owners use to improve their work productivity.

Both of these articles are written by my colleagues who explain tools that can help you through the ideation, marketing, finance and fundraising, CRM, and design & development tools.

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Final Words

You’ve now covered most aspects of ecommerce website costs in 2021, as a user of Magento and WordPress. I’ve highlighted the different phases you’ll undergo when shifting your business online. I hope this article gives you a perspective on ecommerce website cost in the current global situation. We recommend being generous and spending when it is crucial for your business.

I’ve now attempted to address some of the questions you may have had before you landed on this article. Scroll down to see the FAQ section.

Q1. How long does it take to build an ecommerce website?

An ecommerce website can take a minimum of three months to build. In practical terms, the duration of the development process depends entirely on design complexity and functionality.

Q2. Which ecommerce platform is best to create an ecommerce website?

There’s no single answer to this question. Currently the most popular ecommerce platforms are WooCommerce, Magento, Drupal, Joomla, Opencart, Prestashop, and X-Cart.

Q3. How do I build an ecommerce website from scratch?

In order to build an ecommerce website from scratch, you’ll want to follow these simple steps:

  • Decide the product you want to sell
  • Choose whether you want to sell your products online or in a hybrid online/offline model.
  • Register your business and the business domain name
  • Choose a hosting provider
  • Design your ecommerce store
  • Set a payment gateway
  • Install SSL Certificate for security and authenticity
  • Select a shipping partner

Q4. How much does an ecommerce website cost to build and host?

The cost of building an ecommerce website changes as you add functionalities and components. The most basic ecommerce website has inventory management, user management, and an attractive frontend.
As mentioned earlier, the cost of an ecommerce website depends on a lot of factors. The following numbers mentioned are subject to change based on time and location.

Factors Lower Limit Price ($) Upper Limit Price ($)
Custom design 5000 50000
Theme 100 200
Web development 30 150
Domain name (One Time) 10 20
Hosting 10 200+
Apps and plug-ins 100 300
Marketing 18300 20000
Total 23550 70870

Q5. How much does an online store cost?

Generally, the cost of an online store includes the costs for development, theme and plugin licenses (optional), and hosting solutions.

Q6. How much does it cost to design an ecommerce website?

Designing an ecommerce store is an important step of the process of launching the business. In general, the costs of designing include the cost of the talent and themes that the store designer/owner opts for.

Q7. How ecommerce platforms impact cost?

The costs vary depending upon the functionality of your website. A complex website with robust security can cost thousands in monthly running costs, whereas a simple platform that you license from a third-party could run you just around $20-$30.

Q8. How web design choices impact ecommerce cost?

Web design choices can have a major impact on ecommerce cost. If you choose a pre-built theme, you can expect to pay far less than if you decide to hire a professional to develop and design your website from the ground-up.

Q9. How custom programming and functionality impacts cost?

Plenty of SaaS platforms that are geared towards website owners give you the features to add extension support. Before you decide to use one, it’s always better to check whether the platform offers extension support or not. Custom programming costs more, so your costs are likely to inflate.

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Taha Qureshi

Taha is a tech enthusiast and he believes there's no end to creativity. His roots are in content, digital marketing, and analytics. In the after-hours, he reads philosophy and teleports his game controller to its afterlife.

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