eCommerce is one of the biggest growing industries of recent years and is set to explode in 2023. Having a website or store is now a pretty standard part of running an online business, whether it’s a super hot game site or a fashion brand. With lockdowns forcing people to stay home and shop online, there has never been a better moment to create your own online eCommerce store.
Starting an eCommerce site, however, takes a bit of preparation. When you start any business, you need to create a breakdown of your proposed costs. Budgeting is extremely important so that you can accurately predict your average monthly spending and work out your potential profit margins.
Your costing plan should include a price list of all your products and a list of all the areas where you will have to payout. This includes things like the eCommerce website design cost and paying to keep your site in action. eCommerce stores also incur costs when it comes to things like postage and product sourcing or production, so be sure to count those too.
With so many things to think about, getting an accurate read on how much your eCommerce site will cost isn’t easy. If you’ve never run an online store before, or you’re new to running your own business, the learning curve can be quite steep. We’ve put together a list of some things to keep in mind while budgeting for your eCommerce site and your business future.
How to Work Out Your eCommerce Website Cost [UK]
Before you start to estimate your costs, you should develop your business plan for your eCommerce site. Your business plan should include your goals for your business and a rough idea of your future growth potential. For example, if you know you want to keep your site small and don’t want to expand quickly, you should try to keep your eCommerce website costs low and hire a freelance web designer rather than a web design agency. Small eCommerce sites with just a few products are unlikely to produce enough revenue to justify a big spend on website design.
However, if you know you can produce or source items quickly, your potential for expansion may be more significant. This means you might be able to justify a higher eCommerce website cost to have a large site set up. This works best if you know you can shift and replace products quickly. Business models like this allow you to focus on volume rather than on creating bespoke or personalised items.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an eCommerce Website?
The cost of building an eCommerce website can vary depending on how you go about it. One of the main costs of starting any web page is the creation of the site itself. This can come from an off-the-shelf purchase from a web design platform like Wix or can involve paying a website developer to create you a customised site.
While paying a web developer can appear to be a more costly option, both solutions have their pros and cons. You should think carefully about these when you’re making your business plan. For instance, an off-the-shelf option, available through sites like Squarespace or GoDaddy, give you the freedom to experiment cheaply with your site design, but on the other hand, you will have to dedicate a lot of time to create it yourself and potentially spend a lot of money on a web developer to help you fix things you can’t anyway.
Pros of Off-the-Shelf Options
Many of these platforms are free to install and offer free themes that you can use to decorate your store. You will usually have to pay a monthly fee, but the cost is generally low. For instance, platforms like Wix and Weebly charge just a few pounds per month. You can also opt for pricier options, like Shopify, which costs more but offers a better range of features, like built-in SEO tools, for example.
Cons of Off-the-Shelf Options
However, the downside of using sites like these is that they will essentially be owned by someone else. Many of these platforms operate through their own web builders, so, at the end of the day, your eCommerce store will still belong to them, not to you. This can make distinguishing your brand difficult, especially if running an eCommerce site is part of your long-term business plan. And the moment you want to cancel their services, you will have to find a web developer to create a brand new website for you, because the web builders these platforms use are not compatible with hosting companies which you will need to store a website that actually belongs to you.
Pros of Paying a Web Designer
While hiring a web developer can be expensive, the significant upside of this option is your ability to create a bespoke website and advertise your brand. Having your brand name as your URL makes you memorable and easy to find, helping you to generate repeat customers. You are also not limited by choice of themes available and can have any colour scheme, patterns, or images you like on your page.
Opting for a bespoke site also gives you longevity. You will not have to worry about changes to your site that are out of your control or about the changing terms and conditions of your subscription. Essentially, having a custom-built site can make your eCommerce store feel truly yours and this can help set you up for long-term success in the future.
Cons of Paying for Web Design
In short, the price. Paying a web developer to make your site can cost anywhere from £750 to £5,000 and even more if you go with a large web design agency! It is a significant investment, especially when you don’t know how profitable your shop will be. Options like these might suit you better if you have sold your products elsewhere beforehand and know what demand is like. This way you will have a better idea of whether or not you can cover these costs.
How Much for an eCommerce Site?
In general, the price range for off-the-shelf website design can be anywhere from £5 per month to £239 per yearly subscription, depending on which site you use. To pay for a developer, you can be looking at between £750-£5000 for a one-off set up and more for the cost of hosting and maintenance. More expensive off-the-shelf options also include things like WordPress VIP, which usually costs around £4,500 per month and guarantees high volumes of site traffic. Options like these are generally best for large-scale businesses which are capable of rapid growth.
What Other Costs Do You Need to Think About When Starting an eCommerce Store?
When you’ve finished paying for your eCommerce web design UK merchants will still have plenty of other costs left to think about. Running your own site isn’t cheap and, regardless of whether you choose a customised site or an off-the-shelf version, maintenance costs money. Here are some of the other costs to consider when starting your eCommerce site.
- Hosting Your Site
As I’ve mentioned, hosting your site is one of the main costs you should factor into your business plan. Hosting your site usually costs between £150-£1,000/year, depending on what you need. You may just need to cover the costs of your eCommerce shop. For this, your eCommerce website costs should be quite low: around £150-£250 for a yearly subscription.
However, you may want to host a business email account alongside your store, which will push your costs up. If you’re running a large eCommerce venture, you may also want to pay for a unique server to host your site. This can allow for more traffic moving through your page and is a good option for businesses that are already fairly established and are focused on growth.
- Site Maintenance
When it comes to technology, we all know that things don’t run smoothly 100% of the time. Even when a site appears seamless, there is usually a lot of essential maintenance that goes on behind the scenes. When you set up your eCommerce website design UK site owners will then find that website maintenance is one of the main things they will have to fork out for.If you run a small eCommerce store on platforms like GoDaddy, you may not have to pay for site maintenance. However, most platforms charge a maintenance fee which allows them to fix bugs and glitches in your system. This is an essential cost for most small businesses as store owners often do not have the time or the expertise to solve IT problems themselves.
Even on the cheaper end of things, a small site can cost around £700 per year for maintenance. Mid-range maintenance costs generally sit at around £800-£1,000 per year. Meanwhile, at the high end of things, large eCommerce sites can pay as much as £8,000 per year for maintenance support.
Deciding on which type of maintenance you want to pay for will usually depend on the scale of your business. There is no need to pay for high-level maintenance if you’re only running a small site. However, paying for some level of maintenance will help you ensure site quality control for your customers. Maintenance fees will also cover the cost of any essential updates that your site needs, meaning you don’t have to worry about them.
SSL certificates help make your site more secure. They basically provide the HTTPS section in your URL and encrypt information on your site to the host server. This is especially important when it comes to eCommerce stores as customers are making payments through your site. This means that you need to think about keeping stored payment details and customer data safe.You can find free SSL certificates through platforms like LetsEncrypt and Cloudflare. However, if you have your website custom designed, your web developer may charge you for including them. They cost around £60 so are generally pretty affordable compared to other costs.
- SEO Features
SEO is absolutely something you should consider when setting up your own eCommerce site. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Optimisation techniques are basically ways to push your site up the rankings on search engines. This is done by incorporating relevant search terms into your site content so that search engines know how to categorise your page. The more relevant and effective your site SEO, the more likely people are to see your page appear when they search for relevant products. SEO for eCommerce (click here for the ultimate eCommerce SEO guide) can be included in your site in a variety of ways. One easy way to build SEO into your page is to include relevant keywords in your site content. For instance, your product descriptions should include frequently searched terms that relate to the item.
A website designer will usually be happy to incorporate SEO phrases into your site for you. However, to make the most of your eCommerce site’s potential, you should aim to invest in some ongoing SEO work. This includes things like keeping keywords updated, monitoring site analytics and user behaviour, and promoting your site links on social media. You may have to budget so that you can pay a staff member to manage your site SEO or pay to take on an SEO expert or marketing team.
- Site Management
Do you plan to run your eCommerce site yourself, or will you hire someone to run it for you? This question is definitely something to consider when drawing up your business plan. Site management can be a full-time job.Site managers will need to keep track of orders and payments coming in and out. They will also have to keep SEO up-to-date and watch out for any problems on the site. Site managers can also be in charge of online marketing and monitoring customer activity through analytics tools. They can then liaise with marketing teams to create more targeted and effective marketing strategies.
You may want to consider whether this is a role for just one person or for a team. Can you afford to hire a site manager and a marketing team? Does your budget cover the costs of hiring someone with specific expertise, or can you afford to train someone? Figuring these things out beforehand and creating a detailed budget will help you manage your eCommerce website costs long-term.
How to Make Your eCommerce Website Pay Monthly?
Making an eCommerce site pay is similar to running any successful business. Firstly, your profits should outweigh your overall costs. Secondly, you should produce a high-quality product.
While SEO tactics and an excellent website design may get customers through the door, quality products are the only way to keep site traffic flowing. Producing high-quality goods also helps create repeat customers, who are essential for a site’s longevity. eCommerce sites also rely heavily on reviews, so you want to keep feedback as positive as possible.
If you manage your budget carefully, you should have all the tools you need to create a quality site. This will help drive your business success and make money from your products. After this, the sky’s the limit.
Final Call: Do you run an eCommerce site? How did you budget and plan for it? Which sales tactics have you had the most success with? Share your tips in the comments!
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