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How Much Does It Cost to Start an Online Store (E-commerce Website)?

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Yuri Musienko
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The cost of starting an online store may vary from $500 to $100 000 depending on the niche, complexity of website development, business location, and many other factors. This article will reveal all these factors and how each of them influences the cost of starting various e-commerce projects – starting with a simple blog and ending with a very complex multivendor marketplace.

Indicative price

Small-size business website — $100 to $3000. A simple online store that requires small settings. Usually, there are less than 20 pages with stock images and no unique features or design.

Medium-size business website — $1 000 to $20 000. A marketplace with 70 pages, custom layouts, content management system (CMS), and some additional features and unique design.

Multivendor marketplace — $5000 to $40 000 (depends on the number of trading cards and their complexity). The store, where the clients can sell and buy the items. Apart from the basic features of an online store, a seller panel and a possibility of communication with the users are needed.

Large, corporate projects — $25 000 to $100 000. Large-scale platforms with a unique design, several hundreds of pages, custom layout, content management system, unique features, and additional features.

Purchase of a domain and hosting

The purchase of a domain starts at $5 per year. A domain is a website’s name and an URL address that people find it on the Internet with. The cost of a domain usually depends on the domain zone, which indicates the site’s type of activity or which country it’s related to. For instance, in wikipedia.org the domain name is «wikipedia», and a domain zone is «.org» (from the word «organization»). Along with .org, there are many other domain zones (.com, .net, .store), and their number is slowly, albeit steadily growing.

You can find out how much the purchase of a domain costs or if it’s available on the registration websites such as GoDaddy.com, Domain.com, NameCheap.com, or their analogs. The cost usually varies from $5 to $500 per year — the more popular the domain zone is, the more expensive the domain is.

If the necessary name is already taken, the registration website usually shows the availability and cost of similar options or the cost of buying out the needed domain (if it’s for sale). For example, the address Petshop.org is taken, but it can be bought out for $8730, after which it will cost $13 per year.

Cost of buying out the domain Petshop.org on NameCheap.com

Purchase of hosting starts at $12 per year. A website is a set of files that have to be stored somewhere. Such a service is provided by hosting companies, which store website files on servers with a broadband connection to the Internet. Cost of hosting depends on the service provider, server capacity, space available on the server, and additional services (for example, VPN).

Cost of dedicated server hosting on godaddy.com

E-commerce website development

Website templates — $0 to $500. The simplest option to start an online store website is to use ready-made WordPress templates compatible with WooCommerce or other e-commerce extensions. This combination will make it possible to launch an e-commerce site in several hours without programming skills. The site can be for a small store or a blog.

A website, which is developed this way, won’t be unique because many other entrepreneurs will most likely use the theme you selected. This pays off with the price: many themes are free, others cost about $500 or are distributed on a subscription basis — $20 to $100 per year. Integration with WooCommerce is free (there are additional paid services).

Here are several examples of WordPress themes for e-commerce:

  • Hello Elementor— starts at $49.20 per year. This is a theme and a builder for its modular settings. There is a free option with quite great capabilities, but this theme unleashes its true potential if you enter a premium subscription. Besides, there are extensions for e-commerce, marketing, and analytics in Hello Elementor.
  • Divi by Elegant Themes— $89 per year. Alternative modular WordPress-based builder for websites with the settings drag-and-drop from Hello Elementor. There is a wide range of templates for a quick launch of the majority of possible options for e-commerce and other online projects.
  • Jevelin— $59 per year. One of the most popular themes for online stores on the WooCommerce platform. It has its own relatively good builder and a big variety of templates for various types of products.
Website builders — $10 to $30 per month. There is a range of one-size-fits-all builders that make it possible for any user to create a site on his own easily and quickly – no technical knowledge or programming skills needed. Such builders usually have everything necessary for the website development, launch, and work including the purchase of a domain name, hosting, template themes for the quick launch of the site, and interfaces for their editing or website development almost from scratch.

E-commerce platforms — $30 to $300 per month. These are cloud products, which are similar to WordPress by a principle of work: you select a theme, adjust it, and launch an online store that is ready for use. In such a case, the service takes over the development and updating of themes, hosting, SSL certificates, support, and all other technical details freeing businessmen’s time and resources for the most important thing – sales and marketing. Some of such platforms allow connecting themes with your own design and features.

The most popular example of an е-commerce platform is Shopify. This is a simple and convenient service to launch commercial projects of any complexity – starting with a simple store with several dozens of trading items and ending with such marketplaces as eBay and Amazon. A basic subscription on Shopify costs $29, a high-quality theme for an online store — $200, domain purchase — starts at $15 per year.

Nevertheless, Shopify isn't the only option – there are many other e-commerce platforms on the market that you can use to launch your online store. Here is a comparison of the most known ones:

Development from scratch — $300 to $50000. You may also develop an online store without any templates, builders, or e-commerce platforms. This is longer and more expensive than other options, but this is the only way you can create a store with unique design and features, which the competitors and templates of WordPress or Shopify don’t have. The cost of development of the е-commerce website from scratch depends on the project complexity and developers’ hourly rates.

Marketing strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) — $200 to $500 per month. A set of activities on your online store optimization to move it up in the search results of the key search queries. This is a research of keywords to create an SEO core, enhance the speed of a website download, conduct a content optimization, create the link mass, etc.

Pay per click (PPC) — $100 to $1000 per month. You will find PPC advertising within the top positions and in the right sidebar of the Google search results, as advertising inserts on YouTube, in the feed of Facebook and many other websites. This is a very efficient way to boost sales and traffic because the advertiser pays only for the desired action (purchase, jump to the needed page, registration — click) and not for an impression only.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) — $300 to $600. Events on searching the factors, the change of which will increase the store’s conversion. For instance, changing the name, headlines, or a color scheme. They check these things via A/B testing; for example, when half of the site visitors see one headline and another half sees another headline. After that, the headline with the higher conversion rate is being used. The cost of one A/B testing is about $600.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) — $250 to $2500 per month. Targeting, post creation (texts, photos, videos, gifs), advertising campaign running, influencers, direct communication with clients, and other practices to boost sales, brand awareness, and the audience’s loyalty.

Content marketing — $500 to $5000 per month. As a rule, the clients give their preference to companies that generate useful and memorable content. This content can be delivered via blogs, videos, images, posts on social networks, graphs, demonstrations, infographics, white paper, podcasts, and other forms of multimedia. The most important thing is for it to be aimed at the target audience and not at everybody.

Email Marketing — $0 to $5000 per month. Creation of a strategy, design of templates for emailing, content, target page development and testing, payment for the use of special programs and services for the automation of email marketing; for instance, Pardot or HubSpot (pro version).

Merehead does professional development of develop an online store. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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