You may have noticed that the cost of an eCommerce site vary drastically. But how much should it cost. The answer between £300 – £15,000.
Okay, it’s not quite as simple as saying it’s going to cost £X remember you’re business is unique and so the requirements to your project will be different to anyone else’s.
I can, however, tell you that an eCommerce store could set you back anything between £100 and £100,000. But don’t worry, in this guide I’ll talk you through the various options available to you as well as the benefits and disadvantages of each.
Why is the cost of an eCommerce site so varied?
The easiest way to answer this question is to compare it to another industry.
Let’s say you are in the mood for some pizza. You phone up the local pizza place and ask what the base price for a pepperoni is. You take that price and begin adding some extra toppings and suddenly the price is twice as much.
At this point, you start to think it’s a little too much and it might be worth buying one from the supermarket and cooking it yourself. After-all pizza is pizza.
The difference being that a pizza from the supermarket may be cheaper but, you have to do everything yourself, and it still might not come out as well as one from a professional establishment. (I tend to burn mine).
Just like buying a pizza an eCommerce site has a similar structure. If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to get started, then there are plenty of DIY options. Whereas if you are looking for something a little more substantial or you feel as though you may make a mess of it, then an agency though more expensive is the way to go.
What eCommerce options are there?
Over the last few years, more and more eCommerce systems have become available, many of which can be set up by anyone, even without technical know-how.
Base eCommerce, £100+
If you are looking to set up a small site, then there are plenty of options for you to get started quickly.
Shopify, $29 per month + payment fees
Shopify is one of the most well know eCommerce platforms, powering over 600,000 eCommerce stores. It offers a click and drag builder meaning that anyone can register and begin selling within a short time.
It offers several features including:
Built-in Payments System
Integrations with third-party tools
Free web hosting
With all it’s benefits Shopify does have its drawbacks:
It’s pay per month
It has limited extendability
If you want more advanced features, it would be difficult to add.
A charge of 2.2% + 20p for every transaction on the site
It must be hosted on Shopify
Squarespace, £20 per month
Squarespace like Shopify is an off the shelf website builder.
It contains all the features required to get up and running quickly. Including:
Delivery labels through ShipStation
Integration with Xero
Free web hosting
The negatives of Squarespace are:
It’s pay per month
It has limited extendability
All the sites made it, kind of look the same (in my opinion)
It must be hosted on Squarespace
WordPress + WooCommerce and an off the shelf theme £50+, Web hosting, Payments
WordPress is a well known Content Managment System, with a staggering amount of support from developers around the world. Even we use it. It works on a system of themes which can be purchased with little effort and quite cheaply, or created from scratch (like we do) but more on that later.
WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress which once installed adds advanced eCommerce features to your website. It powers roughly 26% of all eCommerce sites across the world.
The benefits of this method are:
Extendable, via plugins
Sell both, physical and downloadable products
Integration with just about everything
Advanced shipping options
One click refunds (If you can class that as a feature)
Customisable email templates
Very developer friendly.
You may see this as a little biased. I admit it is since I have the most knowledge and experience with WooCommerce. That being said it also means I know its disadvantages:
Some themes try to cater for too much, making it very slow.
Too many plugins can slow the site down
If themes or plugins become outdated, they can be a security risk
Cost of the web server and transactions add up
Bespoke eCommerce, £1000+
Starting cheap and cheerful is a great way to test the market, but you may quite quickly find that you need more. Perhaps you need some additional features or advice on how you can grow your business.
That’s when a good web agency comes in. Every agency is unique and offers different levels of support at varying prices.
Coming from an agency background myself, I know that some are great and others not so good. When looking for an agency be sure to find out, the platforms they use and what you will get for your money. (You wouldn’t believe how many web agencies will sell you an off the shelf theme, that they bought for £50).
A good agency will work with you, to determine the best course of action:
Site flow and structure
Digital Marketing techniques
These are all the things that a web agency should go through with you when you approach them. Each has their purpose to achieving success, but interestingly not all agencies do them. Be sure you know what you are paying for, if an agency is saying yes to everything or, if they seem disinterested and not coming up with ideas to help you, then they likely aren’t the best match for you.
We here at Digital Duck take our process very seriously, we want to offer the best possible service, and help you grow your business. Which is why we offer our free, one-one workshop, which goes through all the points above and more. We use WordPress and WooCommerce, but we don’t buy themes, we build them from scratch, so you know your new website will be up to the task.
Of course, even if you find the best agency ever there will be negatives namely:
Web hosting costs
Higher price tag
Completely bespoke – 000’s
Sometimes it can be necessary to have a complete system built from the ground up. Frequently this happens when you are selling unique products, in a unique way.
I’ll be honest, in my sprint as a web developer I have only ever come across one company that really needed an eCommerce platform built. The reason why was simply they had too many ways of importing products. For example, they had roughly 4,000 products that they would enter themselves, 10,000 from a supplier feed and another 6,000 from various other feeds. (The feeds we’re important as it managed stock across several vendors).
The likelihood is you won’t need a completely bespoke eCommerce platform made for you.
There are plenty of options available for businesses of any size.
Shopify, Squarespace or an off the shelf WordPress theme is great for small startups looking to test the water. You may find that you outgrow it quickly or need a little more help marketing yourself.
Going the agency route gives you access to extra advise and guidance with all things web. It can be difficult finding the right agency for you. The best ones will be looking to help you grow your business. The bad ones will be saying yes to everything you say and not helping you strategise your venture. The good ones will take you through not only setting up your site but how you can market it.
Getting a fully bespoke eCommerce system built is expensive and in most cases un-needed.