ECommerce Website Cost Analysis

How much does an eCommerce site cost to host and build?  There isn’t a simple answer. Cost can range from $3,000 to over $10 million, depending on your platform and requirements. You should also continue to invest money in improvement of the function and customer experience (in addition to a solid marketing effort).

The key is to be proactive in your eCommerce strategy.

If the range is anywhere from about $3 thousand to millions of dollars, let’s use $30,000 as a theoretical first upper limit. We at Indiquoise recommend breaking the build down into manageable chunks, no matter the scope, and $30k is a manageable chunk.

To better understand the cost based on your needs, read through the areas that influence cost and finally check out the tables at the bottom of this article, breaking it down by the numbers.

Your eCommerce Platform

Depending upon the complexity of the platform and the licensing, the costs may vary quite dramatically for similar function. We offer industry specific solutions and integrated solutions based on ERP systems, down to software as a service (SaaS) designed for business owners to setup and configure themselves. At the lowest cost, SaaS offerings may begin at $20-$30 a month. More configurable and customizable offerings like OpenCart are not designed to be set up by a business owner alone, so at minimum you are looking to spend $3,000 with a knowledgeable domestic vendor for the build, configuration and internal training.


The Almighty eCommerce Design

Most platforms, especially SaaS offerings, have design galleries and templates you may apply yourself. While maybe not a perfect fit for your business or dramatically set you apart from competitors using the same design, it is cheap. Expect to spend from $0 to $250 to purchase a theme and another $750 to $2,000 making minor changes and customizations (more than just a logo change, but short of a custom design).

Speaking of custom design, the sky is really the limit but a custom theme may cost $4,000 to $70,000 depending on the specifics, requirements, and depth of process.


Custom eCommerce Function and Programming

Many platforms (especially the ones we recommend) provide module or extension support, adding function to your site in a package that has already been developed (for a much lower cost than you could develop it yourself). Always check to see what extensions are available before writing custom code. Be prepared, however, for some extensions to be poorly written. Our firm always audits and evaluates extensions for quality, security, features, and support before recommending to clients. Custom development, however, can get expensive quickly. A good team/firm will develop code that is thoroughly tested, secure, and reliable. This is more costly than just tossing something together as quickly as possible. But an ounce of prevention, am I right? Insecure extensions can break when you upgrade the core system, so poorly written and executed code can actually cost you more money than you bargained for…even if it works at first.


eCommerce Hosting

Hosting is a little more predictable.

SaaS will typically include hosting within the tiered packages. Check the limits for features like: storage, traffic, products, customers and orders. Saas can start out cheap and grow in cost as your business expands and your site needs to scale. Plan on at least $20 – $250/ 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. For a successful and busy site with average requirements for redundancy, speed, scale, and security hosted in a cloud or grid environment, hosting could cost upwards of $750 – $2,000 a month.


In Conclusion

With so many variables, there is no quick answer to the cost of developing an eCommerce website. However, these tables will give you an idea of the combined costs you face on your journey in eCommerce:


Software as a Service (Saas) eCommerce

Mid Large
Monthly Hosting $20-$60 $60-$150 $150+
Design < $1,000 $1,000-$5,000 $1,000-$5,000
Custom Development n/a n/a n/a
Setup/Config <$250 $0 – $1,000 $0 – $2,000
Training $0-$500 $0 – $500 $0 – $500
Maintenance n/a n/a n/a
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.

Traditional eCommerce

(no custom programming, off-the-shelf theme, light traffic)
(light custom programming, customized theme, medium traffic)
(system integration, custom programming, custom design, high traffic)
Licensing < $500 < $5,000 $5,000 – $100,000
Hosting (monthly) $250 $500 $1,000-$2,000+
Design < $2,000 $5,000 – $10,000 $10,000-$150,000+
Custom Development < $500 $2,000 – $5,000 $10,000 – $150,000+
Setup/Config <$1,500 $2,000 – $5,000 $2,000 – $10,000+
Training $500 – $1,000 $500 – $2,000 $500 – $5,000+
Maintenance (monthly) $300+ $1,000 – $2,000 $2,000 – $5,000+
Total Setup* < $5,000 $5,500 – $29,000 $29,500 – $400,000+
Total Annual* < $7,500 $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.