How Much Does an Ecommerce Website Cost?

The perennial, ever-so-sticky question: How much does an e-commerce website cost? The answers will vary. Also, the answer you don’t like: It depends. 

But then, you don’t have to go shooting in the dark. The actual cost of the e-commerce website depends on several aspects of e-commerce website infrastructure, your choice of an e-commerce platform, hosting, business costs, management, development, marketing, and development fees. 

E-commerce store costs when you take the WordPress route will be drastically different from another path you could take with Shopify (and related expenses). If you custom build your E-commerce website -- your costs are going to be higher than when you go with Shopify, Webflow, WordPress, and other options available to you. 

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll take one or two (but not more) options to see just how much e-commerce websites cost: 

Some of the basic and foundational costs are likely to remain as expected costs, such as: 

  • The cost of a domain (usually $10 to $30 per year, unless you aim to get yourself a premium domain or wait for an existing domain to be sold and transferred to you). 
  • Hosting (not required if you go with Shopify). Required (and ranges from $5 to $39 per month or more -- depending on the hosting package, specialist requirements for your eCommerce site, and any add-ons thereof. 
  • SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate costs, around $70 per year: Some hosting packages come with SSL, and others don’t).
  • If you take the WordPress route (on top of the hosting and add-ons), WooCommerce itself is free. Many of the plugins and add-ons you might need are not free. You’ll also have to budget for premium plugins (such as WooCommerce for subscriptions, for instance). 
  • Marketing costs & Sweat Equity 
  • Payment platform fees or ongoing processing fees for payments
  • Other fixed costs, business overheads, and associated costs for hiring help (full-time, hybrid, remote, freelancers, and a combination of any of these). 

Note: If you pick Shopify, your package comes with hosting, compliance, bandwidth, SSL certificate, and so much more. WordPress + WooCommerce (by itself) will require specialist e-commerce hosting or managed WordPress hosting along with a string of plugins you need for your business. 

When considering the costs of setting up an eCommerce site, two popular options come to mind - Shopify and WordPress. Each has its unique pros and cons, and their pricing structures reflect these differences.

For Shopify, you'll be looking at hosting and platform fees of either $29, $79, or $299 per month, depending on your choice of plan. This might seem steep compared to other options, but remember that Shopify offers a comprehensive package. Marketing tools, such as Shopify Email and Shopify Automation, are included in your plan. Not only that, but you also get an SSL certificate - an essential feature for any eCommerce site, as it provides security for your customer data.

On the transaction side, Shopify charges a payment processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ for the $29 plan, 2.6% + 30¢ for the $79 plan, and 2.4% + 30¢ for the $299 plan. While these numbers might seem small, they can add up, especially if you're processing a large volume of transactions.

Additionally, Shopify offers a variety of themes and apps, both free and paid, to help customize and enhance your online store. A web-based designer is available to help you create a professional and appealing site.

On the other hand, WordPress is a more flexible option, but with that flexibility comes additional responsibilities and potential costs. Managed hosting fees start from $15 per month but can go up depending on your specific needs. While it offers a popular and easy-to-use content management system (CMS), SSL certificates are not always included. If not available, they can range from $8 to $60 per year.

Payment processing on WordPress depends on the specific payment gateway you choose. There are many options available, each with its own fee structure. This requires additional research and decision-making on your part.

WordPress also offers a variety of themes and plugins, both free and paid. Gutenberg, a site designer, is free, but other paid options are available if you need more advanced features.

When it comes to pricing, my strong advice would be to carefully consider what you're getting for your money. Shopify's higher upfront costs might initially seem off-putting, but the convenience and range of services provided can be worth the investment, especially if you're new to eCommerce. On the other hand, while WordPress may appear cheaper, the costs can quickly add up when you factor in additional features and services that are not included in the base price. Always weigh your options and consider what is most important for your specific business needs.

Note on WordPress and WooCommerce Costs: 

For e-commerce, cheap hosting just won't do. Managed WordPress hosting is a better option which usually starts from $15 (rare) and is usually available for $29+ (usual). 

Free themes (including WooCommerce themes) don’t give you flexibility and design options, so you’d want a paid theme (which can cost anywhere from $59 to $399 (depending). 

Even with a paid theme, you might want complete flexibility and control with design so you’d want to use Elementor or Divi (which have separate license fees as well). 

Starting from here, it’s Wild Wild West: design tools, marketing plugins, email marketing accounts, payment processing, paid plugins from the WooCommerce stable (such as WooCommerce for Subscriptions), and more. 

Most premium theme, plugin, and site builder licenses require a monthly or yearly payment which has a tendency to stack your costs. 

You could do it for cheap. You could spend an arm and a leg. Or you might be able to find a sweet spot of affordability. 

What are you going to go for?

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