Ecommerce Website Breakdown of Costs

Posted by Paul on October 18, 2013

Before starting a new online business, it's important to have a clear idea of the numbers involved in terms of initial investment, fixed monthly/yearly costs and likely return. So here's a brief overview of some numbers.

Ecommerce Website Design and Development
This is the website itself, designed, built, full of products and ready to sell with a payment gateway in place.

The most cost effective solution would be to start from a template, adding branding and customization and using PayPal Standard. This is well suited to the start-up.

At the other end of the scale, custom design work for all pages, custom product pages, a custom checkout, custom product banners and design details provides an extremely professional and highly branded shopping experience. This is essential for the established retailer or luxury product e-tailer.

Price Range: £800 to £5000.

Further customization and integration can add to the user experience and automation of the platform, with costs rising with complexity.

eBay and Amazon Integration - a Multi-Channel Solution
We'd recommend selling on other channels in addition to your own website. These will reenforce one another rather than detract. There are a lot of solutions to help automate this, but we'd particularly recommend OpenBayPro which comes with OpenCart or Linnworks.

Monthly Price Range: £20 to £340 depending on sales volume.

Website Hosting
Where you host your website is very important as not all hosting is created equal. You'll need to make sure that the server itself is powerful enough to handle the volume of traffic you receive and that you've got enough bandwidth available too. Other important factors include speed, security, reliability, support and backups. While it's possible to get "unlimited" hosting accounts for ridiculous amounts below £5/month we'd strongly advise against it.

If you get serious volumes of traffic then a dedicated virtual server or even an dedicated hardware server could be required.

Monthly Price Range: £10 to £300 depending on traffic.

Website Support
If you're website is particularly busy and you're regularly insalling extensions, needing bug fixes and generally need a developer on-hand, you can take out a support agreement which is like a monthly retainer that gives you a certain number of hours of development per month at a discounted rate. Generally a very good idea for busy sites and sites that need regular small changes that are hard to foresee in advance. 

Monthly Price Range: £90 to £1000 depending on amount of work required.

Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
Often seen as a black art, there's little doubt that when done right, this can deliver good increases in sales. The first step is to choose the right keywords to focus on and make sure that the website is structured and built in the right way so that search engines know exactly what is on offer. This includes things like headings, category structure and a Google Product feed. After this, off-site link building activities, social media marketing and blog articles help to deliver targetted traffic.

Monthly Price Range: £300 to £2000 depending on number of keywords to be optimized for.

Pay Per Click - Google AdWords
This needs to be used with caution. Only when set up correctly (and it is quite complex) and tracked correctly can AdWords deliver a good Return on Investment. If you're willing to invest the time to learn exactly how these work, then great, but generally you'll want to get an AdWords expert to set these up and link them to your website so that the campaign can be tuned and adjusted to spend your budget most efficiently on the most highly converting keywords.

Monthly Price Range: £100 to £millions

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