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How Much Does it Cost to Build an Auction Website?

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Yuri Musienko
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This article reveals how much the creation of an online auction website like eBay or Etsy costs. It also tells how the budget of similar project forms, what factors have an impact on it, in which cases you can save and in which cases you shouldn’t.

Purchase of a domain

Build an Auction Website Domain name

Domain name «auction» appraisal.Source of the image

A domain name is your website address, which the users can use to find you on the internet. The cost of renting this address depends on the domain extension and on the place, where you’re buying it (there can be discounts). The price, as a rule, hovers around $10-100 per year for the ordinary segment and $1000 per year or more for the premium segment.

If you liked a specific domain name, but it turned out that it’s already taken, in some cases, you can buy it out for $100-20000. The seller determines the price as he wishes, however, in general cases the price depends on the name's closeness to popular keywords – the closer it is, the higher the price will be.

You can rent a domain and buy the name, which is already in use, on godaddy.com.

Buying a web hosting

Hosting is a server connected to the internet, where all files of your website will be stored. Due to hosting, the users will have access to your auction at any time and you won’t have to do anything for it. Obviously, you can use your personal computer for this purpose. However, in this case, you have to provide smooth operation of your computer 24/7, speed and quality of internet connection. This is unprofitable because even an internet bill will be bigger than a bill for hosting rent.

There are two types of web hosting: virtual and dedicated.

Virtual hosting — it’s when one server’s resources are owned by several users. Each user has a part of storage space and a part of capacity. They’re used simultaneously. Such an approach reduces downtime and quality of hosting, but hereby its price significantly drops (to $5 per month), which is ideal for the platforms with a relatively small number of visits and unacceptable to the sites with millions of views per day.

Examples of the cost of virtual hosting:

  1. Godaddy: $8,99 per month (there are discounts)
  2. Bluehost: $7,99 per month (there are discounts).
  3. iPage: €8,35 per month (there are discounts).
Dedicated hosting — it’s when your company receives its own server. This service costs $100 per month or more depending on the amount of storage space, machine capacity, and internet connection. Such hosting is usually bought by large platforms and companies, which don't want their data to be stored on a public server for security reasons.

Website Design Development

When online auctions and other marketplaces have just started emerging, the look of websites wasn’t important at all because the competition was little and the users weren’t spoilt by well-thought and good-looking design. But right now the situation is fundamentally different — new projects don’t survive without thoughtful and eye-catching design. And such a design is usually quite expensive — $5 000 and more.

Things that influence design pricing:

  1. Niche. If it’s a narrow niche, the design cost will be relatively low especially if it’s a new market. For example, if you want to build a site of eBay level, its design should be as good as eBay’s and it will cost you $20 thous. or more. If you’re planning to build an auction website to sell forged products, pin-up posters, and other unpopular things, in this case, website design will be less expensive.
  2. Geography. In the USA and Europe, competition in eCommerce is much higher than in other parts of the world. Inevitably, design cost for the websites, which want to work in the USA and Europe, is higher as well. Whilst there are no local auction websites in many African countries, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s enough to create a design similar to market leaders and to adapt it a little bit for the local users’ preferences.
  3. Features. You are able to raise your website uniqueness with the help of artificial intelligence, distributed database, VR and AR, integrations with other services (payment systems, ratings, state registers). Each feature requires additional expenditures on the creation of new elements of UX / UI design.

Three approaches to website development

Build an Auction Website Template solutions

Template solutions. The simplest and the cheapest option to build an online auction website is to use WordPress themes. Their cost is $0 to $500. Moreover, you might need additional plugins for the normal work of these solutions. For example, plugins for theme customization, integration with payment gateway, marketing tools, etc. Such plugins cost $20 and more as a one-time payment or $5-15 per month as a subscription.

The main disadvantages of template solutions are low uniqueness of design and features, low level of security, bind to CMS WordPress, and low bandwidth. Besides, these themes are usually written poorly, so users see bugs, lags, and other errors when viewing them.

SaaS services for eCommerce. These are cloud services, which work on the plug-and-play principle. Their primary advantage is that you don’t have to worry about technical aspects and service improvement — it’s a service provider’s job. You take up marketing and direct sales. This service costs $300 to $6000 per month. Options of the lower level are limited in the number of users, transaction volume, and extensibility.

Main shortcomings of SaaS: conventionality, dependence on a service provider, inability to influence directions for the service development, unprofitable over the long run. Besides, if the SaaS service provider goes broke or closes the project, your website will stop working.

Custom development. The only acceptable option, if you need to create a unique project for a highly competitive market. Development cost — $5000 to $50000 and more. Development time — 3 to 6 months. People usually outsource the company to build an auction website from scratch because it’s cheaper, faster, and simpler than creating their own development team.

Here’s the indicative plan of an auction website development in hours with the average cost of hourly work — $50 per hour:

Build an Auction Website Custom development

Additional opportunities

If the site has competitors, it will need additional features to improve user experience in order to stand out amongst similar online marketplaces. That’s what you can use for this purpose:
  1. Integration with maps, for instance, Google Maps to determine the location of users and personal recommendations.
  2. Photo scanning to define a product like on the LetGo app.
  3. Marketing tools to analyze your activity and product promotion within the platform: mailing, push notifications, etc.
  4. Possibility to add video, 3D models, VR videos to the flypage.
  5. Content management system to create user pages, for instance, page of the store, brand, expert, or buyer.
  6. Integration with additional payment providers.
  7. Integration with social media.
  8. Mobile app.
  9. SSL certificate.
  10. Other things.
The price of additional features depends on the approach to development and the feature itself. For example, if you chose WordPress to launch the site, then new features can be added with the help of plugins (it’s $10-500). If the required plugin isn’t there, then you should hire a developer, who will add the new feature to the theme code. You can’t add anything new to SaaS, however, there should be a possibility to activate premium features (it’s $10-50 per month for one feature).

In the case of custom development, there are no specific numbers, it’s necessary to look at what you want to add and who will do it.

Filling the website with content

The core content of a marketplace is photos of products and text with their description, which your users will make. Your task is to create convenient and comprehensible tools to publish and edit advertisements and also to write instructions for any cases and questions.

Besides, you can start a blog and profiles on social networks to share useful knowledge and skills with the users. You can do this by yourself to save money. But it’s better for:

  1. A copywriter or a group of copywriters to fill a blog. Their services will cost you $100-500 per month. If the blog is your primary tool in promoting in search engines, expenses will be heavier. Some companies spend more than $10 thous. per month on the blog.
  2. SMM specialist to maintain social networks. His services also cost $100-500 per month or more if you actively use influence marketing and oftentimes run advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
  3. A marketing agency to take up both blog and social networks. Its services don’t cost much more than private specialists’.

Marketing policy

According to Clutch and The Manifest, on average, companies spend 2% to 5% of their income on marketing, and when starting a business — two to three times more. Here’s what this money is usually spent on:
  1. Search engine optimization (SEO): $100-5000 per month.
  2. Content marketing (texts, photos, videos): $500-10000 per month.
  3. Social media marketing (SMM): $100-10000 per month.
  4. Mobile app advertising: $500-1000 per month.
  5. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC): $1000-50000 per month.
  6. Affiliate programs: 5-50% of the income from clients.
  7. Email marketing: $0-3000 per month.

Website maintenance services

People, who are needed for normal auction operation:
  1. Administrators, who add, delete, and moderate the content. They monitor compliance with the user agreement and legislation.
  2. Technical support desk, which solves problems and accepts relevant requests from users.
  3. Manager (it’s usually the owner), lawyer, accountant, tax attorney.
  4. If you created the site from scratch, you also need people, who will take up website updating and integration with necessary services.
Such specialists’ salaries depend on the country and qualification. For example, the administrator’s rate in the USA is around $5-8 per hour, and in India and Eastern Europe — $1-2 per hour. The disparity in lawyers and accountants’ rates is even bigger: $280 per hour in the USA and $10-50 per hour in India and Eastern Europe.


As you can see, it’s quite difficult to unequivocally say how much the creation of an online auction website costs. It’s because many factors influence this sum — starting with the approach and ending with whether it’s you, who will write texts for the website. Nevertheless, if we divide these projects by complexity, then:
  1. Development of simple WordPress-powered sites costs around $1000 and in addition, you need $500-1000 per month for its maintenance. These sites are perfect for narrow niches with minimum competition.
  2. The creation of online auctions of medium complexity costs around $5000-10000 and $1000 per month for maintenance. Such websites are ideal for the majority of niches and countries, however, they can’t compete with market leaders such as eBay or Etsy.
  3. Building a unique online auction of eBay and Etsy level is a project of increased complexity, development of which costs $50000 and more. Plus you’ll need to spend a few hundred thousand on platform promotion and filling of listing at launch.
Good luck in all your endeavors!

Merehead does professional development of Auction Website. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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