How much does an ecommerce website cost in the UK?

Clock icon 10 minute read
Calendar icon 29th July 2019

If you are considering starting an online store, also known as an ecommerce website, one of the first challenges you’ll face is figuring out the cost of the ecommerce website that you need for your business needs.

Ecommerce website development projects have many elements and options, and prices different around the world. As a result, there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to costing up a project, but in this article, we will be looking at and giving brought figures for the different costs of an ecommerce website you are likely to encounter in the UK.

Typically, when you contact a web design agency, they’ll first give you a ballpark figure or estimate for your ecommerce project. However, they can be quite vague and sometimes far from the actual sum you end up paying.

Any web designer worth their salt will take you through various questions to drill down into the specific details of your ecommerce website project. They will do this to ensure that they’re able to give you a detailed, more accurate quote for your new online store.

If you’re new to ecommerce, consider a project like buying a pizza – you have so many bases and toppings to choose from, different sizes, edges, sauces, and even varieties of flour and baking methods. You could go crazy with the things you need, or you could keep it plain if you want to keep it easy on your wallet. However, without specifying what you need, want and can afford, it’s impossible to say how much the pizza will cost.

How much does an ecommerce website cost in the UK?

A small business ecommerce website typically costs between £2,000 and £20,000, which shows how different projects are from each other. As such, you should put a lot of research and discussion into your ecommerce project to ensure that you get an accurate ecommerce website cost.

That’s not to say that an ecommerce website can’t cost less or more. A very budget-friendly online shop using a pre-made style could end up costing you under £1,500. However, you may need a site that handles thousands of transactions daily, hourly, per minute or even per second. The architecture, complexity and reliability that’s involved with this sort of project could easily cost more than a mansion in London.

Here’s an example breakdown of the total cost for a small or medium business to get an average ecommerce website with fairly common features and geared towards processing up to a few million pounds in revenue per year. The cost breakdown includes any subscriptions or additional costs:

ServiceCost
Ecommerce Design & Development (one-off)£2,000 – £20,000
Support & Maintenance (annual)£790 – £7,990
Web & Email Hosting (annual)£240 – £2,400
Photography (per shoot)£300 – £1,500
Copywriting (per day)£240 – £800

Specify your ecommerce needs

First and foremost, you should be thinking about the things that you absolutely must have to make your ecommerce website a success. You should then have a different list of things that would be nice to have, but you don’t necessarily need on your ecommerce store, and also a list of things that you want to work towards and would automate the website for yourself and your customers.

A quick and easy way to do this is by firing up a text editor and outlining all these details. If you have a document ready, you can send it to the web design company and make it a lot easier for them to give you a quote.

Off-the-shelf vs a bespoke ecommerce website

A custom or off-the-shelf ecommerce approach?

What’s the difference? A custom (or bespoke) website is one that’s made entirely from scratch. You’ll be the only person to use that website, and no one else will have one like it. On the other hand, you can purchase an off-the-shelf site that was developed for this purpose. All that’s left to do is to populate it with content and make minor style changes.

Using an off-the-shelf theme has implications both on design and development. Which option you choose will also have a considerable impact on the cost of your ecommerce project.

Here’s a breakdown, taking into account both options.

Design

Some ecommerce platforms allow you to buy themes so that you can get your store started quickly. While we don’t really recommend this approach, it can be a good option if you want to get an ecommerce website up and running quickly. An off-the-shelf theme is also ideal if you have limited funds or if you don’t have any custom functionality requirements.

If you want to create a serious ecommerce business that has a strong foundation or you are already established, we recommend that you invest in a bespoke design that embodies what your ecommerce website is all about. This makes your brand and website instantly recognisable and perfectly in line with your values, which helps you to build a stronger connection with your clients going forward.

Development

You can also find off the shelf themes with generic designs if you are just interested in standard ecommerce functionality. Since the theme is already completed, you won’t have to wait weeks for development to be completed.

However, if you want bespoke designs, you’ll likely need to hire an ecommerce website design company which can meet your unique ecommerce design and development requirements. With a bespoke ecommerce website, you’ll be able to dictate what features your website has. Thus, allowing you to implement time and cost-saving functionality that you cannot do with a pre-made theme.

Off-the-shelf themes are made for the mass market. Because of this, they have a ton of options and styles that you won’t necessarily use, but they still need to be loaded. With this approach, pre-made themes are often slow and not search engine optimised.

Additionally, another drawback of a pre-made theme is that it’s not optimised for your specific use case. It may turn out that you’ll need to pay a web designer to make any changes to the theme, bringing it close to the cost of a bespoke store.

Additional ecommerce website costs

Additional ecommerce website costs to keep in mind

Ecommerce website design is quite complicated, and there are many additional costs that you’ll need to keep in mind. To make it easy, we have included these below, alongside how much you can expect to pay.

Web Hosting

The cost of web hosting for an ecommerce website will vary, depending on the total amount of traffic your website is expected to receive and how many transactions you are processing. Most hosting companies charge a monthly or annual hosting fee for ecommerce websites. This typically starts at £240 for a small ecommerce site.

If you own a large, established ecommerce site, or are expecting to use a lot of images, you may require a larger server that’s exclusive to you. Dedicated hosting will cost more than this estimation. Larger ecommerce stores and marketplaces may spend hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds on their hosting each year. Depending on the size and number of transactions on your ecommerce website, this could very easily surpass the cost of your initial website build cost.

SSL Certificates

You’ll need an SSL certificate if you want to make your website more secure and give your customers more confidence to make a purchase. An SSL certificate gives your website the green padlock icon and “https” prefix in the address bar, which is a big trust boost for clients.

An SSL certificate also helps to keep your information private between your website and the visitor, since it makes the information unreadable to everyone apart from the server you send the information to.

Some web design companies charge for SSL certificates but there are plenty of free options. For example, we use Cloudflare and LetsEncrypt to optimise and secure our websites – offering the exact same security as a £200 SSL certificate, all in the price of our hosting packages.

Updates, bug fixes and backups

You’ll need to factor in around £80 to £150 every month for maintenance and security for your new ecommerce website.

Most ecommerce platforms receive updates, as do any plugins or extensions. These improvements can cause problems that need to be solved to ensure little or no downtime, while also guaranteeing that you have the latest features and security updates. If you don’t update your plugins, your ecommerce website is left vulnerable and at risk of getting hacked.

Some web design agencies offer maintenance packages that also include additional security fixes and off-site backups included in the price. Be sure to ask them before committing to a company for maintenance, and keep in mind that you don’t have to use the same company as the one who made your website.

Search engine optimisation

SEO is one of the biggest things that should be considered and discussed in great detail at the very beginning. The first thing you need to ask your ecommerce website design company is how much they charge for SEO on an ongoing basis, as SEO is an area that’s always changing. You might rank high on your keywords today, but rank low next week if you fail to adjust your SEO strategy to Google’s regular algorithm updates. As such, you’ll need to include ongoing SEO services in your initial budget.

SEO can cost anywhere from £500 per month to tens of thousands of pounds per month. It really depends on your budget and how quickly you’re ready to grow your ecommerce website.

Training

Running an online shop can be hard, especially if you are non-technical or unfamiliar with the ecommerce platform used by your design agency.

Not many people know how to manage their new ecommerce website properly. If you know you fall into this category, you will need some training and documentation to show you how to manage your website, edit content, add new products, and other day-to-day tasks.

Even if you know the ecommerce platform well from a different website you use, it might be that your new site has different features or your ecommerce design agency has a different technique to display settings.

Some ecommerce design companies will charge you extra for training, so be sure to clarify beforehand.

Migrating ecommerce products

Migrating your products and clients

If you already own an ecommerce website, you’ll need to think about how you will move from the current website to your new ecommerce website. Being a critical task, it must be done smoothly so that there’s no downtime and to make it as easy as possible for your clients with little or no disruption to sales, past order records and user accounts.

Make sure that you are confident that the web design company you choose will be able to do this successfully so that you don’t lose any past orders or customer details.

We have extensive experience in migration, backups and disaster recovery. Call us on (+44) 01747 632 635 to discuss merging or migrating your data.

Improving business processes

Improving business processes

After having your ecommerce site redesigned and redeveloped, this is the best time to look at some ways in which you streamline business processes. For instance, what accounting package does your website use? Do you use MailChimp for email marketing? Does your website use a CRM system? Incorporating these types of third-party platforms can help you to improve your business processes and cut down on administrative duties.

Design agencies should discuss this with you so that you can think about integrating tools that you already use with your site. There are plenty of free integrations out there, so you may find that you’ll be saving a lot of time for no additional cost.

How long does an ecommerce website take to build?

How long does it take?

Creating an ecommerce site from scratch or redesigning your existing one is a huge undertaking. Do not be fooled by smooth salespeople who say that your new website will be delivered in two weeks. A good website will take much longer to put together.

You’ll need to ensure that you have realistic expectations and that your web design company is honest with you about when your website will be delivered.

Realistically, it should take anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks depending on the complexity of the project and how bespoke your requirements are.

Get in touch today to discuss your ecommerce project!

How much does an ecommerce website cost in the UK?

Tips for getting an accurate ecommerce website cost

1. Make sure you get all the functionality documents

You should always ensure that the web designer you hire to build your new ecommerce site produces a detailed document outlining all the features and functionality you require. This ensures that nothing is forgotten or left to chance; since it’s all documented, you can check off each item from the list once the web developer does a task. These documents also ensure that you never pay extra for things that were never agreed upon initially.

2. Speak to several web design agencies

When you are ready to have your ecommerce website built, you should ensure that you consult two or three website design agencies to get their ideas on how they’d handle your inquiry. During this enquiry process, you should get a good feel of how good and thorough they are.

During the initial dealings, you will also get an idea of what to expect from them in terms of customer service. Request that they calculate a quote for your project and move on from there.

3. Don’t necessarily choose the cheapest option

If you go to several website design companies, you’ll likely get a range of different prices. You may be tempted to pick the cheapest option immediately but this could easily end up blowing in your face.

On the other hand, just because a website designer is expensive does not automatically mean that they will deliver quality. Your decision should be based on the website designer’s past results and whether or not you can work alongside them and make a success of the project.

Remember that this will be the beginning of a long term partnership so you better make sure that you commit to terms that you will be happy with.

Looking for ecommerce advice?

There are so many little things that can affect the cost of an ecommerce website. If you need advice or have any questions, we are ready to help. Whether you are interested in starting a new ecommerce website or redesigning your existing site, get in touch or call us on (+44) 01747 632 635.