How much does it cost to build a Custom eCommerce website in 2021?

In 2020, demand for eCommerce exceeded all expectations. An unexpected and devastating global pandemic forced hundreds of millions indoors, and with shops shut in many countries and regions, consumer trends to shop online increased dramatically.

Some businesses were able to capitalise on this sudden shift in consumer habits straight away. With eCommerce websites up and running, retailers could keep selling online, or switch to predominantly online selling if physical shops needed to close. 

However, if you weren't in a position to capitalise on this last year, now is the time. Whether you are an established business and want to add an online channel, or a completely new business and eCommerce is your primary sales channel, it’s useful to know what it costs to have a custom website developed.


When it comes to the cost of a custom eCommerce website, here are a few of the main considerations that influence the price of the work:

  • Cybersecurity
  • User experience
  • Scalability
  • Generating traffic
  • Mobile-centric

In this, we look at each of these in more detail so you can get an understanding how much it can cost to get a custom eCommerce website developed in 2021.

#1: Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is absolutely crucial. You need to ensure your customers details are safe, that transactions aren't intercepted and payment details taken, and that everything you store about customers adheres to relevant legislation. In the UK and EU, that means GDPR. In the US, that means the CCPA, although New York has similar legislation, and both are the most far-reaching versions of data protection laws in America.

Most other countries and regions have similar legislation, and all are geared towards giving consumers significant protections under the law. Hence the importance of doing everything you can to safeguard consumer data, especially payment information. When it comes to payment information, payment processing providers (such as banks, PayPal, Stripe, and numerous other solutions) shoulder a lot of the responsibility for security.

However, when having a custom eCommerce store developed, you need to pay special attention to security. Make sure every effort is made to safeguard data being transmitted through the store to the payment provider, and equal efforts are made to safeguard everything you need to retain about customers.

#2: User experience

As much as you need to keep customer data secure, you can’t do this at the expense of the user experience. Customers need a frictionless user experience. In many cases, you aren't only competing against direct competitors, but numerous others around the world, giving customers more choice than ever. Plus, if similar products are sold on major eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, then you are competing against those too.

Hence the importance of user experience. Custom eCommerce websites make it easier for web visitors to find what they want, and complete a purchase. The number of products you’re selling, determines the complexity of the website. More products means more features, to ensure customers can find them easily enough and therefore ensure your entire range is visible, not only a small percentage of popular ones. All of this needs to be delivered without negatively impacting the user experience.

#3: Scalability

Connecting with the above: more products means more features are needed. But say you don't want to put everything online at once, or you need to wait to pay for expanding the website as traffic and revenue increases. How scaleable does this new website need to be? 

This is something that needs mapping out in the design stage. To ensure you’re going to have all of the features you need in the here-and-now, and the future. You don't want to develop a website that needs a massive overhaul down the road because scalability wasn't built-into the roadmap to begin with. 

Scalability also includes web hosting. Make sure the services being used to host the website will scale as traffic increases, without you being hit with ridiculously high hosting costs. 

#4: Generating traffic (SEO and advertising)

How are you going to win customers?

Whether you are a new brand, or established but new to eCommerce, web traffic is the key to sales. Marketing and advertising will generate traffic. Commonly used and successful tactics include a mix of social media, advertising, and organic SEO (blogs, articles, press coverage) to drive traffic. 

Which means you need to budget something to get traffic, and ensure it keeps flowing in. Once that traffic flows in, enough of them need to convert to become customers (e.g. 1000 web visitors, convert 5% = 50; and those 50 spend on average $100 = $5,000 Gross Revenue).

#5: Mobile-centric

Absolutely crucial, especially when it comes to eCommerce. Web traffic on mobile devices surpassed desktops several years ago, and for eCommerce more people than ever shop on smartphones. Check and double check, during the QA/testing phase, that customers can shop and complete purchase on all of the most popular mobile devices without any problems.

How does the above impact the cost of custom eCommerce development?

Numerous factors influence the cost of a custom eCommerce website, making it impossible to give an accurate quote for the work required until you speak with one or more eCommerce website development agencies. As a general rule, based on current trends, eCommerce websites increase in price when they need more more complicated features, and uniquely customised design.

Basic websites can take a minimum of 100 hours to develop from scratch, with many in the 200 to 500 hour-range. When working with an agency developing this, they often need to deploy front and back-end engineers (developers) and designers, alongside other professionals, such as copywriters. Hence the wide cost range, which can be between $20,000 up to $200,000 to develop a custom eCommerce website.

Plus you need to consider monthly costs. Hosting can be anything from $29 per month, up to $1000 or more, when you've got a site with a lot of traffic. Likewise, a marketing and advertising budget could easily cost $1,000 a month or more, to generate the traffic you need, which should turn enough web visitors into customers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Every custom eCommerce cost is different; it depends on the design and number of features, time required to design, develop and test it
  • Custom eCommerce websites need to be mobile-centric, SEO friendly, fast, secure and scalable
  • Don’t forget the monthly costs; that needs to include hosting, payment processing, marketing and advertising
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