What we will cover
Five factors that will affect the cost of your ecommerce site
If you are considering setting up an ecommerce website then we don’t blame you, the high street is perilous with a host of big-name brands being bought out by online counterparts with lower overheads or going bust due to dwindling profits.
According to JDR Group, 2018 saw companies such as New Look, Toys R Us, and Maplin go into administration, while firms like MotherCare, Debenhams, and Jack Wills followed suit in 2019.
So the decision to sell online is a choice of either joining marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy & Ebay or setting up shop yourself, we will focus on the latter in this article.
No two ecommerce sites are the same (at least they shouldn’t be), so asking how much does an ecommerce website cost in the UK can only ever result in vague estimates.
We often use the car analogy, you can get a cheap second hand car for a few hundred pounds or spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a sports car. Like choosing a reliable SUV, You need to identify what is the right ecommerce fit for your business.
It is not uncommon for small businesses to spend well in excess of £10,000 for an ecommerce website. To get an idea of where your ecommerce website is likely to fall on the price spectrum, have a look through the following factors:
The popularity of online selling has led to competition between ecommerce platforms which have become more powerful and easier to use. It is now relatively simple for anyone to set up an online store on a third party ecommerce service that will give them the basics (stock management, product display, shopping basket, checkout, basic shipping, etc.)
Most of these platforms, which include the likes of Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento) will charge you a monthly or annual subscription fee. They also lock down their codebase, restricting the ability to develop and optimise individual websites – which isn’t a problem at first, until you start trying to optimise your platforms to increase sales.
Website developers and agencies, including Vu Online, often use opensource platforms they install on their own hosting platforms where they access and customise the code – Drupal, Joomla, Prestashop & the most popular with 36% of the web: WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a powerful plug-in that integrates with the WordPress content management system and, like WordPress itself, is free – both in the subscription sense and in the ability to add to and modify the code.
Choosing the right platform is key because it can be expensive to re-platform at a later date.
Features and functionality
Whether you pay Shopify or Squarespace to ‘unlock’ a feature or ask a developer or agency to build one for you, it’s going to push your costs up. Some features may require incorporating a plug-in with an annual licence fee, but your developer should clarify this with you before they start work.
While on the topic of plug-ins, it is worth pointing out that an experienced developer or web agency will often modify the code to avoid ‘bloat’. Those with less experience are more likely to just upload a plug-in ‘as is’ which can lead to slow site load speed and bugs.
For the same reason that the code restriction in cheap platforms leads to developers being unable to improve the performance of the website for its users, a good agency will challenge you to consider if you need the whizzy functionality at the expense of negatively impacting your users.
An established business is probably going to want to integrate existing systems into their new ecommerce site. Some examples are online ordering portals, CRM platforms, accounting systems and mailing list providers.
Again a cheap platform with a restricted code base will make this impossible, an opensource platform with limited support or community standing may not have ready-made plugins, leading to expensive bespoke development jobs.
One of the reasons Vu majors in WordPress & Woocomerce is because it has a community of developers creating lots of different plugged-in functionality with monthly subscriptions, enabling your website to evolve in an affordable way.
Consider the number and complexity of these integrations as they will have an impact on your costs and site speed.
Ongoing ecommerce website costs
Typing ‘how much does an ecommerce website cost’ in a search engine will often bring up annual prices because whatever way you go about building your site, there will be some recurring costs.
As explained earlier, if you use an online ecommerce platform, you will be charged a subscription fee. This may or may not include a domain name, hosting, security certificate and ongoing maintenance.
If you hire a developer or agency to build your ecommerce website, you will often be able to secure these services through them. Alternatively, you will need to source them yourself.
- Payment gateway fees. Every ecommerce store needs an integrated payment gateway to process card and online payments. These will usually charge you a percentage of each transaction along with a fixed fee. We’ve written a separate article about choosing the right payment gateway for your ecommerce store.
- Web hosting. Your ecommerce website will reside on specialised computers called servers. Shared servers, which might cost £10 to £15 per month, are cheaper but reliability and security are more of a gamble. A dedicated or managed server will probably cost you over £30 per month for an e-commerce store but will give you more peace of mind in terms of uptime and data protection. As you may know, our servers run on 100% renewable energy find out more about our eco web hosting here.
- Domain names. Most businesses will want their own domain name (the bit that ends ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’, etc.). These can cost between £10 and £30 a year. Domain names are purchased from a registrar and then linked to your hosted files.
- SSL certificate. This is the essential digital file that tells your customers that your ecommerce site is a safe place to buy from. When a web browser confirms the certificate is in place it displays the padlock symbol in the browser bar. SSL certificates are sometimes included in hosting packages (like ours) or can be bought separately at around £60 per year, they will also need to be installed by a techie at their hourly rate.
- Ongoing maintenance. E-commerce sites are dynamic and must be regularly updated with new features and security patches. Many businesses hand over the task of managing this process through an ongoing maintenance contract.
Your development team
Finally, the cost of your ecommerce website will reflect the experience and competence of your development team.
While a freelance website designer or developer could do a good job for you, they often lack the resources to manage large projects without significant outsourcing. They also tend to be weighted towards either design or functionality, an agency will balance the two an often add account management and marketing expertise like Search Engine Optimisation into the mix as well.
That’s why we recommend spending a little more on an agency approach to ecommerce website design. Look for a team with a diverse mix of skills, a robust development process and plenty of positive testimonials from ecommerce clients.
We hope we’ve at least partially answered the question, ‘How much does an ecommerce website cost?’ We recommend you speak to some developers and agencies. The best ones will be interested in finding out much more about your business before throwing numbers at you.
Vu services: how much does an ecommerce site cost?
We welcome a conversation from UK businesses looking for a digital agency with WooCommerce expertise. We will approach your ecommerce project from a business goals perspective, to ensure you get what you need from your new website.
Once we’ve assessed the scale and scope of your ecommerce website, we can start looking at budget and timescales. Find out more about our web development process over at our dedicated Ecommerce Website Design page.
Do you know anyone who may be interested in this project?
Click to share: