How much should an ecommerce site cost?

This is a question I’ve been asked recently, and the easy answer is anything from £200 up to £2,000,000, with most sites I imagine costing between £2,000 and £20,000.

A key factor is the scale of the site (do you have 10 products or 10,000 products) and obviously there is a wide spectrum of ecommerce solutions available, from an off-the-shelf standard template to bespoke solutions, through on-demand and open-source platforms. The total cost comprises upfront costs and monthly/ annual costs, and revenue-sharing can be an option.

This is an interesting estimation of the work (in person days) involved in developing an ecommerce site, as taught to ecommerce students at Kingston University, which amounts to 5 months work for one person full time, or more realistically a small agency working on a handful of projects.

Project planning including creative, technical, integration, budgeting, testing and promotion 9
Wireframing/diagramming of processes, logic and functionality 5
Agreement of functionality, specifications and plan within budget 2
Graphical design (within brand guidelines) 10
Conversion of design into templates and style sheets 5
Product modelling and database design 2
Design of decision support tools to help shoppers select, choose and experience 2
Design of customer service processes and systems 5
Implementation within shopping software, CMS or from scratch 15
Integration with stock and ordering systems 10
Integration with payment partner 2
Collection and manipulation of content 10
Testing for browsers, platforms and DDA compliance 10
Delivery and training (editorial and CMS) 2
TOTAL person days 92

I have been quoted £20,000 by agencies for a design and ecommerce solution, and then opted to do the design in-house and achieved the same result for £2,000 within 6 weeks with a hosted ecommerce solution. I also see plenty of projects posted on freelance websites like peopleperhour.com where ecommerce sites are built for less than £200.

There’s an interesting discussion here amongst ecommerce developers; Should an ecommerce site cost £1,000, £10,000 or £50,000?

Whether you’re spending £200 or £2 million the same considerations apply:

  • Be clear about what you want the site to achieve; think about what the customer wants and deliver a clear message
  • Scalability; plan for today and tomorrow
  • It’s easy to focus too much on the physical design at the expense of functionality; get the right ecommerce platform with the right functionality and you can make it look however you like
  • Think about issues like merchandising, promotions and stock availability sooner rather than later
  • Research thoroughly, and build usability into the design

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© Helen Coupland 2014