How Much Does It Cost to Build an E-commerce Website from Scratch
Online store websites have become quite popular these days. No wonder, one should say! After all, such a resource can both be the only source of your income and increase the profitability of your “offline” business. Not a bad prospect, right? You just have to figure out how to make an e-commerce website and determine your costs.
In our article, we'll explain to you the best way to build a successful e-commerce business from scratch and provide your customers with a positive online purchasing experience.
What you need to consider before starting an e-commerce website
Primarily, you should develop your own e-commerce business plan, it’s the first thing to think about if you want to get great and effective e-commerce website solutions. Agree, without a plan, it’ll be difficult to find out where to start, what to consider, what you can economize on... Therefore, we strongly recommend you to spend your time reflecting on the strategy of future earnings.
What are the e-commerce website development steps?
#1. Goals of e-commerce web development
Before you figure out how to build an eCommerce website, determine your goals. The more precise the task is, the faster and cheaper the e-commerce web development will be.
We mean, you, as the business owner, should clearly understand why you need selling products online, what you expect from your resource, what it should look like, etc.
Just answer the following questions:
- What kind of eCommerce platform are you expecting to have?
- Do you plan to sell your products (services) only via the Internet? Or, perhaps, you already have a real store, maybe, you just want to increase earnings through electronic sales?
- What are your shipping options?
- How large your project is going to be? Will it be possible to further scale it?
- What is your e-commerce web development budget? Are you ready to start with a full-fledged resource or will you first create an MVP model?
Of course, one can come up with more questions regarding how to open an online store. But these are enough to start.
And keep in mind, you’ll be able to carry out your project at a high level only if you know what you want to get as a result. Otherwise, developers won't understand what exactly you expect from them, and you'll find yourself ultimately disappointed.
So, first of all, clarify your goals and only then - create the online store. It’s the only way to succeed.
#2. The domain name and Website hosting
A domain name and website hosting are 2 important points often overlooked, and it’s an obvious omission. Let's not make the same mistake and take a closer look at these factors.
- a domain name must be consistent with the name of your company, be memorable and easily pronounced. It's really significant because we’re talking about your eCommerce business brand. And it is also important to make sure that the name is free. Believe us, the task is much more complicated than it might seem at first glance, and it is somewhat like trying to register a new email account on a popular service when you keep getting the same sympathetic phrase that the name already exists. If you have encountered such a problem in the past, you’ll understand the importance of dealing with this issue in advance. We recommend you to use the help of one of the specialized resources, such as godaddy.com and whois.net
- hosting should ensure the proper performance of your eCommerce website. There are different options, such as:
- Shared-hosting, the most simple one. Its provider you've opted allocates the necessary resources, and you pay a certain amount of money every month. The user of such a shared system has the opportunity to download files via FTP, as well as through the special panel.
- VPS/VDS - Virtual Private/Dedicated Server is a hosting technology with several isolated virtual machines on a single physical server. You as its user gets the right to control all the process at the root-user level. This is a very good option for e-commerce website development.
- dedicated server. The client gets the physical machine that has certain characteristics and locates in a specially equipped data-center. Typically, big portals with a large number of visitors choose the dedicated server.
#3. SSL certificate
How to make an eCommerce website reliable and trustworthy? Since you are dealing with payments, you should take care of the matter in question beforehand.
We recommend you to seek help from an SSL which provides secure data transmission through authentication and encryption technologies.
The SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol is the guarantee of the absence of the slightest danger and threats of hacker attacks during the interaction of your server with the visitor's browser. SSL is the same thing as security. The SSL protocol helps to transmit the coded data through HTTPS. To return information to the decoded format, one should take advantage of a secret digital key.
The whole operation needs the installation of the SSL certificate - a unique virtual document, which characterizes the level of security of your e-commerce business website.
Types of SSL certificates (depending on the validation needed):
- Domain validation: quite a simple option which requires only domain verification and, therefore, is in high demand nowadays;
- Business validation. This option is relevant for those e-commerce entrepreneurs who think about their reputation. In this case, more thorough research should be performed, including an analysis of your business processes;
- Extended validation. Only these EV certificates provide the online store website with a green address bar in the browser.
To obtain a certificate, you must contact the organizations which issue them. However, if you ask us to make an eCommerce website, we ourselves would take care of this and other similar problems. We understand your task is to provide a successful online purchasing experience, which is possible only if your customers are sure of their personal data security.
#4. A payment gateway
The eCommerce website development cost is not the only significant factor. It is more important that your resource be profitable. So, you need to think of the payment system, namely - a payment gateway and credit card processor. For example, try using the help of sites such as Authorize.net and 2checkout.com.
Organizing a secure payment system is never easy, you have to spend a lot of time to get approval to use this technology, but there is no way to avoid such a laborious process. It's the only chance to find out how to build a successful eCommerce website.
#5. Marketing and promotion strategy
Of course, you need to take care of the promotion of your resource. Simply put, you should have a great eCommerce marketing strategy.
There are many ways to popularize your resource and attract new customers, including SEO optimization, affiliate programs, banner and context advertising, Google Shopping Campaign, and much more.
Also, do not lose sight of the social networks and the opportunities they provide. It is not enough to integrate with Facebook, Instagram, and other similar resources. It is important to create a specialized page of your company in all key social networks which would represent your brand, demonstrate the product catalog and advertise the eCommerce website.
In other words, in the e-commerce website development process you'll have to integrate additional marketing tools, and you had better think of it now, while the work has not started yet. But we’ll mention the issue again a bit later.
How to make an e-commerce website successful
If you want to know how to make an eCommerce website successful, consider the following issues.
#1. To register or not to register?
If you don’t want to lose half of your buyers, give them the possibility to make a purchase without having to register on your website for eCommerce: allow an Internet user to order goods or services in an easier way (say, by specifying a phone number and/or email address). The process of creating an account takes time and effort, and impatient consumers do not always want to waste their energy. They’ll leave your resource in favor of a competitive one which does not cause so much trouble.
If you’d like to persuade shoppers to sign up anyway, indicate all advantages of the registration: a personal account with purchase history, a bonus system, discounts in honor of birthday and so on.
#2. Responsive design
If you want to know how to build the best eCommerce website, you need to think of its responsive design first. It means your resource will be correctly displayed on any device including smartphones, desktop computers, and tablets.
In the end, many people prefer to make purchases using mobile eCommerce website solutions, so be sure your site is ready to meet the consumers' choice.
#3. Clear interface
When developing an eCommerce resource, you need to remember that its design should be not only responsive but also appealing, capable of attracting the client's attention. But this is not enough either! It is significant that you would take care of creating a clear interface: the less time spent for searching for the desired information, the better.
Your website should be as ergonomic as possible. In addition, it won't be superfluous to provide the system of filters and sorting which will make the product selection process more user-friendly.
#4. Ever-present site search
A clear interface is only half the battle. You also need to create the search service for your eCommerce website.
As you can see, even the statistics convince you of the importance of this item on our list. So do not neglect the search feature.
However, the search engine should be made at the highest level, namely:
- the search bar should be located on every page of the online store website and be recognizable;
- provide the ability to search for a good for a given category (say, only among handicrafts);
- do not forget about the system of searching filters: the user will be glad to be able to specify the range of prices, the color of the product and other parameters.
Create an online store with an advanced search engine to know what the eCommerce website boom is. And, of course, such a boom will positively affect your finances.
#5. Live Chat
A positive online purchasing experience implies that the user has the opportunity to clarify some details of his order. However, not all people are fond of calling or e-mailing, many of them prefer a much more modern way of communication, namely, a live chat.
On the Internet, there are a lot of ready-made solutions to create a live chat for eCommerce stores selling products or services. Among them Chatlio (technology which synchronizes with the Slack messenger), LiveAgent, LiveChat and other instant messaging systems.
Each solution has its drawbacks and advantages, but the topic is too complicated to discuss in our article (maybe later, in another blog post). To make a choice in favor of a certain chat system, you must request assistance from developers who know how to create an online store with all its features and attributes.
How much does the eCommerce website development cost?
Besides the question of how to open an online store, you are probably concerned about the cost of the whole process. Let’s take care of this issue.
First of all, remember that we are talking about starting an eCommerce website from scratch. In other words, we create an online store adjusted to your specific requirements. Such a solution is the most flexible and scalable. Moreover, it best suits your individual needs.
Technologies needed to build a successful e-commerce business from scratch:
- Front-end: JS, HTML, CSS
- Backend: Ruby on Rails, Spree Commerce, AWS (it’s the Amazon's server)
Features of the online store website
To determine the costs to build a successful eCommerce business project, you need to figure out what it consists of. So we'll list the most important features of your online store website and evaluate each of them in the hours required to implement it. And only then, based on the data obtained, we'll name the final cost of e-commerce website design and development.
Authentication (sign-in page)
It is important to make a user registration page so that a person can create an account and fill it with personal information. One of additional ecommerce business tips: do not make authorization a prerequisite, otherwise you risk losing some of your customers.
Timeline: 24 hours
It’s quite an obvious and simple step - at first glance. However, if you are interested in how to create an e-commerce website that users will really like, you should pay the most attention to this problem. We mean the catalog of goods must be as easy to use as possible, namely:
- break the catalog by product category to simplify the search for the desired position;
- create a system of filters and sorting;
- offer the opportunity to compare several similar catalog goods;
- do not forget about the catalog search (remember, we mentioned the importance of an advanced search engine to build a successful eCommerce business website?).
Filters, the search bar, and all other elements of the catalog should be very user-friendly. This will increase your chances to have high conversions in the future.
Timeline: 52 hours
Product details page
A product details page is nothing more than a product card. It should contain all the necessary information about a particular product: the photo, description, characteristics, dimensions, etc. A video demonstrating the goods in volume will not be superfluous either. And we recommend adding an opportunity to leave feedback. Users would be happy to read reviews of those people who have already bought the product they're interested in.
Timeline: 50 hours
Shopping cart page
E-commerce web development necessarily includes the stage of creating a shopping cart. It's quite simple: as soon as the user clicks on the "Add to Cart" button, the product automatically appears on this page.
Timeline: 36 hours
Discussing the SSL protocol, we explained how to make an eCommerce website secure. And now we’re talking about the safety issue again. Because it is for safety reasons that special attention should be given to the checkout page. Payment is always a delicate moment, and the user must trust you.
To make the checkout page credible, you should take care of:
- Minimum of clicks. The rule of three clicks says that the site should be designed in such a way that the user only needed 3 clicks to get the desired result. This applies to the checkout page too. 3 clicks may not be enough, but try to reduce them to a minimum level. Best eCommerce website solutions follow such a rule.
- Transparency of the process. The buying and checkout processes should be as user-friendly as possible.
- The possibility to continue shopping. Give the buyer the opportunity to continue shopping from any page, including the one we're discussing.
- Links to your Private Policy. The page must necessarily contain a link to your Private Policy page to help the user familiarize himself with security measures.
Full information about the purchased product. The total cost of the order is insufficient information. It is desirable that the checkout page includes a more detailed description - the user would like to know exactly what he is paying for. Specifying shipping options would come in handy either.
Timeline: 40 hours
Do not be silent, tell users about your company. Prove that you can be trusted! In other words, create your eCommerce business brand.
Traditional e-commerce business models usually tell the whole history of the company (a story of its formation with all the ups and downs), but in fact, it is not necessary. You had your reasons to figure out how to create an online store, but customers are more willing to learn about other things, namely:
- number of years on the market;
- achievements, awards, and certificates. What can your company be proud of?
- the nature of the goods offered;
- your suppliers. Or, perhaps, you produce goods and services yourself?
- quality checking. Tell us what measures you take in order to make sure of the high quality of the products.
Of course, the About Us page can be replenished and edited, because, with the growth of your company, there will be new reasons to be proud of your e-commerce platform selling products online.
Timeline: 12 hours
Customer Care (FAQ)
The users are likely to have many questions about your eCommerce website, and these questions are usually quite typical. Be smart enough to answer them in advance and post in the FAQ section.
Questions can relate to delivery, payment, the return of rejected goods, quality certificates, and other important issues.
Timeline: 12 hours
Contact Us page
It is unreasonable to create an eCommerce website without the Contact Us page. The user must know all the options to contact you if necessary.
You have to specify the maximum number of your contact information: the address, a phone number, skype, email, a location map, etc.
In addition, it won't be superfluous to offer the opportunity to communicate with you through the contact form on the online store website.
Timeline: 8 hours
Integration with third-party solutions
Earlier, we explained to you the importance of considering any marketing campaigns ahead of time. If you have taken our advice into account, then in the eCommerce website development process you'll need to integrate the chosen marketing tools: Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Mailchimp, and so on.
Timeline: 12 hours
CMS is the administrative panel, the "control center" of your resource. It's the area where the owner can manage his site: the goods, orders and any other data. Undoubtedly, the CMS is a key stage of e-commerce web development.
Timeline: 56 hours
Final eCommerce website cost
So, it's time to calculate your expenses. Before giving the final eCommerce website cost, we note that in addition to designers and developers, you'll need the following specialists:
- Project manager to coordinate work processes;
- QA engineers to test the eCommerce platform;
Timeline PM: 16 hours
Timeline QA: 30 hours
Depending on the complexity of the design and the number of web pages, the total cost can range from $ 10,000 to 18,000.
Starting an e-commerce website from scratch is, of course, more expensive than using ready-made solutions of popular platforms. However, the option we're discussing guarantees your eCommerce business brand several distinct advantages:
- Unique site design;
- Unlimited project scaling;
- The chance to embody the boldest of your ideas regarding eCommerce website development.
Of course, only an experienced developer can help you with this matter. And if you need one, we're happy to assist. Our specialists are highly qualified and know how to build the best eCommerce website; moreover, they're able to put their knowledge into practice in the most efficient way.