There are two main ways to create an online store: use an ecommerce website builder or hire a web development company. The method you choose has a huge impact on how much your online store will cost.
Ecommerce website builders typically are the least expensive way to build an online store. Using free, open-source platforms are attractive, but you end up paying for hosting, themes, plug-ins, and even help from a developer if you have specific needs, all of which can increase your total cost.
Ecommerce website builders are best for:
- People with little technical know-how
- People who need to build a website fast
Ecommerce website builders can range from $39 per month to $399 per month, depending on whether you have retail stores or not.
However, the average ecommerce website price will cost about $39 per month for new stores, not including sweat equity!
Common costs for ecommerce websites
- Payment processing
- Ecommerce web design costs
- Custom development
- Add-on and extension
- Business costs
- Total costs of an ecommerce website
Website hosting costs can vary, with prices starting as low as $2.49 per month, and climbing up to $1,000 or higher. The cost depends on a variety of factors, such as how much traffic your store gets and any extra services you may need, such as automated backups.
Regardless, every website needs hosting to store its files. You’ll also need a domain name, which is like the digital home for your ecommerce store.
There are two types of hosting commonly used by ecommerce brands:
SaaS ecommerce platform hosting
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify do not require you to install, manage, or host a domain on your own. Everything you need is included in your monthly subscription fee.
Secure hosting comes with every Shopify plan, which includes:
- Unlimited bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about paying more if you get more traffic
- Level 1 PCI compliance, which keeps customer data secure
- Blazing fast servers and instant updates, so you never miss out on the latest features
- An SSL certificate to prevent fraud and build customer trust
- A reliable content management system to handle site content
- Unlimited email forwarding
You’ll just need to buy and register a domain name separately. You can find available domains through Shopify’s domain name generator and start your ecommerce business fast.
Pricing starts at around $11 per year, but can run as high as $81 per year, depending on the top-level domain you choose.
Self-hosted ecommerce website
Some ecommerce website builders like WooCommerce (a plug-in for WordPress) and Magento are free. But you need to have an account with an ecommerce hosting provider to manage your files and purchase a domain.
Some costs you’ll incur when self-hosting your website include:
- An ecommerce hosting account, which starts at $7.99 per month
- A domain name, which can cost around $14.99 per year
- An SSL certificate, which starts at $69 per year
There are some web hosts like Bluehost that offer services with a free domain name and SSL certificate for $2.75 per month.
The one drawback is that as your ecommerce store grows, you’ll need to upgrade your hosting plan to manage traffic increases. If you end up with a high-volume website, self-hosting can cost you upward of $1,000 to $2,000 per month.
Hosting cost estimates:
- SaaS-hosted: As low as $39 per month with unlimited hosting.
- Self-hosted: Between $2.75 and $2,000 per month with incremental upgrades.
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A payment processor is a company that manages transactions so shoppers can buy your products. Every ecommerce store must have one to take payments from credit cards, debit cards, and other smart pay options.
Payment processing costs depend on the plan you have with your ecommerce platform. For example, the Shopify Basic plan has a processing fee for online credit card payments of 2.9% plus 30¢ per transaction. The Advanced Shopify plan has a fee of 2.4%. If you are taking payments in-person, the fee is lower because there is lower fraud risk.
Every Shopify plan comes with Shopify Payments, which helps you start selling right away. Once you turn on Shopify Payments, you can accept credit cards and other popular payment gateways like Shop Pay, Apple Pay, and G Pay.
Offering Shop Pay as a checkout option makes it easy for customers to check out with saved payment and shipping information.
After adding Shop Pay, women’s lingerie brand LIVELY saw average order value (AOV) for customers using that checkout option increase by 6% compared to those using different payment option methods. Shop Pay customers also bought over 35% more than those not using Shop Pay.
Ecommerce web design costs
Did you know that it takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for someone to form an opinion about your website? Not only that, but shoppers buy based on trust, and your branding can help build that trust right away.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify have templates you can apply to your site easily. They are a fast and affordable way to get up and running. Shopify Themes offer built-in tools to customize layout, colors, style, and other settings.
These templates come set with everything you need to start your store:
- Product pages
- Shopping cart
- Checkout page
- About pages
Shopify Themes offer over 100 free and paid themes to help you find the right look and feel for your store. You can find themes based on categories like video and 3D products, big imagery, large inventories, minimalist style, fun and lively, and more.
Themes can run from zero dollars to upward of $180, depending on the one you choose.
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From full design overhauls to customized back ends, sometimes you may need help to get your store looking the way you want.
Custom ecommerce website development costs are related to designing, deploying, and maintaining your store for specific business needs. Store owners can work with developers to create custom storefronts or tweak Shopify themes.
The ability to customize with Shopify really allows us to push it to the limit and create a custom checkout experience customers can trust and be confident in keeping their personal and payment information safe. It really makes customers feel like the site is going to take care of them.
Prices vary depending on what services you need. Some development agencies like OuterBox charge upward of $100,000 for a customization job. Other established Shopify agencies can cost between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the scope of the work.
Your best bet? Check out Shopify’s Experts marketplace if you need custom design or development work. You can find freelancers and agencies offering custom theme development for less than hiring an in-house developer. Prices start at $550.
Add-on and extension
It’s nearly impossible for one ecommerce software to satisfy the needs of every ecommerce business. Chances are, you’ll want to add a few features to your website.
The best ecommerce software lets you add applications to your store to extend its ecommerce functionality and improve the user experience. Some are free and some are paid, which can increase the cost of creating your online store.
The Shopify App Store has thousands of apps for you to choose from, and there are many free Shopify apps. Whether you want to add email marketing, sell on social media, add social proof to your store, or improve your search engine optimization (SEO), there’s an app for that.
The price for paid apps varies. Most are available on a monthly subscription basis. You can also add private apps made specifically for your store. These apps are stored and run on another server, but you can generate Shopify API keys to give the app access permissions.
Custom apps can cost upward of $5,000, depending on your developer’s experience and rates.
Budget is always a consideration. You can launch an ecommerce website for as little as $100, but you’ll likely have to spend more than that to get your business moving.
According to our latest research, most small business owners spend around $40,000 in their first year, with 9% of that allocated to online business needs. (Shopify merchants spend an average of $38,000, while non-Shopify merchants average around $41,000.)
It takes time to turn a profit for an online business. It’s important to choose an ecommerce platform that won’t take up your entire budget and gives you the tools you need to succeed.
Focus on where your business is now and think about where you want to go in the future. Then find an ecommerce platform that can help you get there.
Total costs of an ecommerce website
Ecommerce website pricing differs depending on various factors like design, customization, and the platform you choose.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the calculation for creating an ecommerce website:
- Domain registration: $10–$30 annually
- Web hosting: $5–$250 monthly (depending on the hosting plan and provider)
- SSL certificate: $0 (complimentary with some hosting providers) to $200 yearly
- Ecommerce platform:
- Open-source (WooCommerce, Magento, or PrestaShop): No cost to download, but there may be charges for extensions, plugins, and themes
- Hosted solutions (Shopify, BigCommerce, or Wix): $20 to $300 monthly, based on the plan and features
- Website design and development:
- Pre-built themes: $0–$200
- Custom design and development: $2,000–$20,000+, depending on the complexity, features, and functionality needed
- Additional costs:
- Payment gateway fees: Varies according to the provider (PayPal, Stripe, Shop Pay) and transaction volume
- Digital marketing and advertising: Varies depending on the budget and strategy
- Website maintenance and support: Varies based on the degree of support required
Build a successful ecommerce business today
As you can see, the cost of an ecommerce website isn’t crazy expensive.
After buying a domain name for your new ecommerce startup, you’ll likely just need to pay $39 per month for a standard online store with Shopify. If you want to add custom features or include paid apps, it can bring the total cost up.
Shopify is flexible and lets you choose the amount of money you want to spend upfront, so you can build a profitable and rewarding ecommerce project.