Online shopping is one of the most popular forms of shopping currently. With an online store, you can reach more people and sell your products to a wider range of customers worldwide.

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continues to have a major impact on e-commerce and online customer behavior. As millions of people stayed at home in early 2020 to prevent the virus from spreading, digital channels have surpassed congested storefronts and in-person purchasing as the most popular option.

In 2020, nearly two billion people purchased products or services online, with global e-commerce sales exceeding 4.2 trillion dollars.

In June 2020, global retail e-commerce traffic hit a new high of 22 billion monthly visits, with demand for everyday things like groceries and clothing, as well as retail tech items, exceeding expectations. 

An e-commerce website is an excellent way to start selling your wares on the internet, but it does cost money to set up. You’ll need technical skills like web design and programming as well as marketing know-how to make your storefront successful.

Some essential features that an eCommerce website must have include search engine optimization, payment services, ease of navigation, site load time, promotional deals e.t.c.

In this article, we'll be discussing things to consider before creating an e-commerce website, factors that determine the cost of an e-commerce website, how to calculate the cost of building an eCommerce website, and the recurring cost to keep in mind when building an eCommerce website.

Things to consider before creating an eCommerce website

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Before you start building an eCommerce website, there are some things that you need to consider.

What kind of eCommerce website do you want?

Do you want to run an online retail business that sells products, or is your website hosting service for other people, like web design? Or maybe you’re an artist who wants to sell prints of your work.

Individual storefronts are a good option for smaller businesses or for selling unique items that don't fit in with a larger business model.

Development budget & costs

What is your budget for creating your online store? The more you have to spend, the more likely you can get a customized, flexible e-commerce website design. If your business is already established or profitable, dedicated hosting may be a good option. On the other hand, If you are looking for a cheap e-commerce website, then DIY eCommerce website solutions could be the answer.

Shipping options

How many shipping options can you provide? For example, Do you want to offer free shipping, or will customers have the option of paying for expedited shipments? How much do you want to charge for your products? These are questions that should be answered well before you decide to create an eCommerce website.

Do you want a custom website or use a SaaS platform like Shopify?

What you want to offer and your budget will determine whether or not a SaaS platform is the right choice for you. The main disadvantage of using such platforms is that they can't be changed as easily as custom-built websites, though this may benefit some users more than others.

SaaS platforms offer professional-looking storefronts with no design experience necessary.

Factors that determine eCommerce website cost

There's no silver bullet for this question; it all depends on what you want to achieve and how technically savvy (or not) you are.

The cost of an eCommerce website will vary depending on several factors. Some of which includes:

Website design

The e-commerce website design cost will depend on how much work needs to be done. Many platforms offer templates that can be customized with some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you're not the most tech-savvy person around, hiring an ecommerce development company may be more affordable in the long run. The custom design would require more experienced workers who are more expensive.

Ecommerce platform

The type of platform you choose will affect the cost to build an eCommerce website. Shopify, for example, is a SaaS platform that costs $29/month plus transaction fees. On the other hand, Magento Community Edition, a self-hosted open-source platform, can be downloaded free but costs about $1500 to install and customize.

Features & functionality

Offering shipping options (like free, expedited) and payment gateways (PayPal, Amazon Pay, etc.) will cost extra. In addition, security features like multi-factor authentication are often included in the price of your eCommerce website.

Product database

How much work do you want to put into your product database? Will you be using an eCommerce platform that takes care of this task or will it need to be done manually by yourself or the website eCommerce developers you hire?

The more work involved in building your online store, the higher the e-commerce website price.

Promotional activities

What is the marketing budget you’re willing to invest? This will affect what you can do with your eCommerce website. If you don't have a lot of money, paid ads might not be an option for you, but social media and SEO marketing may still be useful tools.

Shipping management

What is your expectation in terms of shipping management? Your eCommerce platform will need a good system for managing order fulfillment, pricing and tax options, shipment tracking, etc. If you expect a lot from your online store when it comes to shipping logistics, you might find yourself needing outside help.

How to calculate the cost of building an eCommerce website?

Source: Unsplash

To get a better idea of what this cost might be, you should look at the features and functionality you’d like your eCommerce website to have. When you’re thinking about this, it’s helpful to look at the big picture. Rather than focusing on individual features like “shipping management” or “security features,” think about what your eCommerce website will do overall.                                                   

Ecommerce software packages

Shopify and BigCommerce target small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with fewer than 100 employees. These packages offer everything you need to start your online store, including domain registration, hosting, shopping cart software, security protection, and more.

Shopify’s basic plan starts at $29/month plus transaction fees. BigCommerce’s basic plan costs $24.95/month plus transaction fees.


The cost of the Bigcommerce basic plan is $24.95/month plus transaction fees. Transaction fees range from 2-3% depending on the gateway you use (PayPal, Stripe, etc.). For example, PayPal charges 2.9%, and Stripe charges 3%. Since the monthly fee is fixed, it's easier to predict your final cost.


Their Basic plan starts at $29/month plus transaction fees. In this package, you’ll get access to a Drag and Drop Builder, 24/7 support via live chat, email, or phone, and 100+ professional themes. Their eCommerce software is extremely user-friendly compared to other platforms. There are no transaction fees for any of the payment gateways.


WooCommerce is an open-source platform. It’s free to download, but you will have to pay for hosting, and there are fees for using payment gateways, like PayPal or credit card processing. For example, PayPal charges 2.9%, and Stripe charges 3%.

Domain & SSL certificates

Domain names and SSL certificates are included in your eCommerce platform. They’re not required, but it makes sense to invest in them since you want people to find your website! It's important for security too.

Hosting costs

A self-hosted eCommerce website will cost more to maintain since you'll need to pay for hosting and ensure that your website is secure. For example, Bluehost offers a free domain name with any web hosting package.

On the other hand, if you’re using a SaaS eCommerce platform like Shopify or Bigcommerce, they provide hosting as part of your package.

Payment processing costs

To accept credit card payments online, you’ll need to work with a merchant account provider who charges transaction fees of between 2-3% (Visa/Mastercard) and 1.5-2.5% (American Express). On the other hand, Shopify and Bigcommerce require no transaction fees for any of the payment gateways.

Addons, extensions, and integration costs

Additional features and integrations will cost more. For example, Shopify offers an app store where you can purchase extensions like point-of-sale systems, inventory management software, and other tools. You’ll also need to pay for hosting and SSL certificates if you go the self-hosted route.

Recurring eCommerce website costs to keep in mind

Domain, hosting, & SSL certificate charges

For example, Bluehost offers a free domain name with any web hosting package.

Transaction fees (2-3%) for accepting credit card payments

Bluehost charges 2.9% (PayPal) and 3.5% (Stripe). Shopify and Bigcommerce require no transaction fees for any of the payment gateways

Multimedia file

Delivery charges to display photos, videos, and blog posts. For example, Bluehost offers unlimited photo storage with its web hosting plan.

Advertising fees (paid to other businesses), Shopify offers a free ad program where you can promote your store on Facebook.

Several of the largest eCommerce companies are SaaS platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce. These platforms let you create your website in minutes with Drag and Drop features without having to learn HTML/CSS or other complicated programming languages.

You can also get an eCommerce site up and running for free using WordPress, WooCommerce, or Joomla! However, costs will vary depending on the hosting plan.

Website maintenance

Shopify and Bigcommerce provide hosted solutions, so you don’t need to worry about maintaining your website.

On the other hand, if you’re investing in a self-hosted eCommerce website like WooCommerce or Magento (which is not recommended), then you will need to pay for hosting, software updates, security updates, and backups.

Data backups

Some eCommerce websites offer automated backups. However, self-hosted platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce do not provide this service.

If you’re using a self-hosted eCommerce platform like WooCommerce, Magento, or PrestaShop, you'll be responsible for setting up and maintaining your website. This will be costly since the upfront cost of the website is just one part of many ongoing expenses. You will have to pay for hosting, security updates, and backups.

Marketing expenses

If you're investing in a self-hosted eCommerce website, then there are marketing expenses that will be added to your platform cost. For example, Shopify provides several free apps for driving traffic to your store, like Gift Cards or Reviews.

Start building your eCommerce website today

In conclusion, building an e-commerce website will cost more to maintain since you'll need to pay for hosting and ensure that your website is secure. For example, Bluehost offers a free domain name with any web hosting package.

Additionally, if you're investing in a self-hosted eCommerce platform like WooCommerce or Magento (which is not recommended), then there are marketing expenses that will be added on top of the costs associated with establishing a self-hosted solution.

To start saving money today, consider using Shopify as it's cheaper than other platforms and requires no transaction fees for payments accepted online.

Minu Mukherjee
Digital Marketing Specialist
Minu Mukherjee is a digital marketer with a specialization in organic growth and content marketing. She has a background in business management. She's been part of this industry for around 1 and a half years and has helped several small businesses improve their web presence through the use of SEO, content, social media, and more.

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