how much does an ecommerce site cost?

August 13, 2014

With online sales tipped to hit $370 billion by 2017, it’s not surprising that these days, everyone wants a slice of the ecommerce pie: not only is it big bucks, it’s cost effective, it is light on human resources, and a good online shop exponentially widens the reach of your business. But without a good quality, well-designed ecommerce site, your business doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why the team here at Bonsai Media thought we would put together a bite-sized discussion of ecommerce for anyone thinking of getting into the business.

So the obvious starting question is ‘How much does an ecommerce site cost?’
Well unfortunately this is difficult question to answer without knowing the specific ins and outs of your business and the ecommerce website design you need. Obviously we’d love to hear from you (you can contact us here) to help give you a more tailored answer, but in the meantime, there are a few things you should be aware of. With ecommerce you get what you pay for. The bad news is (if you’re not savvy) it can be easy to blow your budget. But the good news is, you really only need an expensive ecommerce site if you’re a big player: a company like Amazon will obviously have very different needs than (for example) a Melbourne-based baby store.

There are three main factors that influence cost that you should consider. Firstly, the size of your customer base: this defines the different technologies needed to keep up with your web traffic. Secondly, the various features and functionality you require for your website; this may change dramatically depending on the nature of your website and what you want to offer. It is important here that before choosing a team of developers that you find out if they will allow you to pick and choose the functions you need – this can not only limit your costs significantly, it allows you to tailor your solution to your customers’ needs. And thirdly, whether you choose a site made from off-the-shelf components or a totally custom built site: again, this can have a big impact on your budget.

So by now you have a pretty good idea of what you’ll be paying for, so the next question usually is ‘Can I get something cheaper that’s still usable?’
Well the good news is that you can, as long as you’re sensible. The benefit of using a company like Bonsai Media is that with a bit of thought and guidance into what functions your ecommerce site needs, you can start off with a fairly basic package (that is obviously still very usable and looks great) and develop it as your business grows, adding functionality, and upgrading elements as your business needs change.

When you are setting up your site, it’s a sensible idea to put some of your initial budget aside for marketing – i.e. to actually get people to your website so it can start earning you money. Marketing, both online and offline, can make or break a new digital business, so it pays to spend a bit of time thinking about it, or talk to a few experts on your best plan of attack (we’d be happy to help, and can be contacted here). One of the services we offer that we find is particularly cost-effective for entry level clients is the use of Google Adwords. Adwords are the text ads you see on Google after you’ve searched for a series of key words. They are an incredibly efficient way to get your messaging in front of potential customers, and the good thing is, they are incredibly targeted, working off whatever key words a Google user has searched for.

And finally, what can I expect to pay to keep my ecommerce site going?
In the wild world of ecommerce, many new comers seem surprised they can’t just set up their website and leave it, so before you start the building process, it’s a good idea to be aware of what ongoing costs may come up. Like building your site, these costs will vary depending on the size and functionality of your system, but can include software licensing, hosting, security maintenance, updating your content for new or changed products and of course, marketing. But there’s more good news, because (unlike many other companies) Bonsai Media has no ongoing fees; once your site is set up, there’s no extra costs to you.

So to summarise…
In the end it comes down to common sense and gut instinct. Think out what you need before you start the process, go with a designer you trust and choose someone who’s charging an appropriate amount – if it’s too expensive you’re being taken for a ride, but if it’s too cheap you’re just throwing your money away. As we said, it’s hard for us to be more specific and give you an approximate figure here, but we’re always happy to help. So if you would like to get a better idea of what your ecommerce site design and development could cost you, contact us at Bonsai Media; we do great ecommerce solutions for small to medium business (as well as a range of related services) from our offices in Melbourne, but we also service Brisbane and we’re happy to work with companies Australia-wide.