How The Cost Of Developing An Online Store Is Calculated

Maksim Komonov

All those who set themselves the task of developing an online store, are faced with the issue of pricing. The first question that arises for beginners who open their first online store is: “Why is it so expensive?” Developing a simple, at first glance, functionality can cost a couple thousand dollars. But over time, when you gain experience and knowledge in the field of eCommerce, the question changes and it sounds like this: “What is included in this price?” Let’s take a shortcut, save time and figure out what the final cost of the development project is made of.

Nothing personal, it’s business

It goes without saying that a web development company is a commercial organization which exists primarily to generate a profit, keeping other objectives as secondary. To deliver a quality product to satisfy customers and to be at the cutting edge of the software development, the company first needs to heavily invest in creating the proper workplace to manufacture the product: top-notch computers and other hardware, dedicated high-speed Internet access, and etc. So the profit the development company makes is simply the amount of return on an investment and most of it is spent, again, to maintain the workplaces.

Settling up a plan and a roadmap

Store prototyping and work planning of any project is an integral part of the development process and it serves to understand the goals and objectives of the project. Interviewing, negotiations and creating a list of requirements helps to assess the significance of each task, correctly prioritize and evaluate the deadlines. This is the task of the Project manager (PM).
Having a clear vision, PM should reach the same clear understanding of the project objectives by all the team members so that they knew their role in the process.
The frontend developer should know which browser versions to support, whether a mobile version is needed, etc. The backend specialist should understand what features the administrator and user will have, whether integration with other systems is necessary. Similarly, an interface designer, analyst, and QA should know the nuances of the tasks that are important to them.
The Project manager should know and record all the features and needs of the project. A PM must also specify the parameters by which the project will be considered complete. If the project is voluminous, there may be several Project managers and several teams.
Technical Specification is a document that regulates the development process and explains to both parties (the customer and the developer) the work volume, the time frame and what the result should be. The speсification is compiled by the Project manager and approved by the customer. Creating a list of tasks can take time, but it is better to invest some time to get the result that will be guaranteed to suit you.
Technical Specification usually contains the following details:

  • the core purpose
  • the tasks it solves
  • the audience
  • the structure of the site
  • the templates for each type of page (main, category, product, content pages)
  • a description of the basic functionality
  • additional functionality requirements
  • content description (content placement, layout, design)

The Technical Specification also includes the total cost and the time-frame of the project or development task. Once the specification is confirmed by the client, the project is moved to the next step where the company’s resources are allocated to complete it. At this step, the project is assigned a project manager along with a team of experts. Depending on the scope, it can be developers (front-end and/or back-end), designers, Google Analytics experts, etc.

Designing web interface, UX, UI

Requirements for design and the budget for it are determined by the objectives of the project. The cost of the design includes a basic part (the concept of pages) and an additional part (illustrations, animation, banners, etc.).
Accuracy and clarity are important here. It’s better to get simple, but high-quality graphics. They will start working and showing effectiveness faster. Difficult concepts are better to be postponed because they increase the budget, implementation time and fail more often.
For an online store, the design is a part of usability (UI/UX). All titles and writings should be in place, and the sizes of fonts and images should be carefully thought out. A well-designed interface allows you to increase conversion – in other words, increase the efficiency of the store.
The cost of the interface design does not include the production of banners, animations, additional illustrations, icons, etc. This is another type of work, which is evaluated separately from the basic part. To exclude additional work of the designer from the project budget, you can specify a place for a banner (or another element) with a given style without filling it with the content.
Design budget spreadsheet may include:

  • a concept of website design on the example of the main page
  • a unique design of internal pages
  • extra unique pages
  • concept options for the entire design
  • additional illustrations, animation, banners


Integration with existing infrastructure

If a business already has working business management systems (ERP, taxes, customer support, etc.), an online store can be synchronized with them, databases have to be set up, and software adapted. In addition, the synchronization can be automated. This type of back-end work can significantly increase the budget.

A complete check-list of the online store creation works

  1. Preliminary project analysis, product or service research
  2. Development of the Technical Specification and drawing up a roadmap of the project
  3. A detailed description of the functional requirements and methods for their implementation
  4. Creation of a prototype in accordance with the requirements
  5. Creating a visual concept of the future store, refinement of the logo, selection of fonts and color schemes
  6. Creating design layouts of all internal pages
  7. CMS integration, creating a build, creating an HTML code for responsive design
  8. Programming and integration of functional add-ons
  9. Filling up the store with the content
  10. Optimization: setting up metadata, optimizing the page and images load speed
  11. Cross-browser testing and debugging adaptability
  12. Setting up notifications delivery from site forms (orders, letters, questions, etc.)
  13. Setting up and configuring a project on a productive server
  14. Connecting the domain

This is a typical template version for a turnkey store. In an individual case, it may differ significantly. For example, it may include the follow-ups and regular cross-checks with the client, adding the features, or, on the contrary, excluding them. It should be noted that any intervention in the original plan usually affects the final cost of development.

How to reduce the project cost

Simplify functionality and design

While getting your store development estimated, keep in mind that individual solutions entail more risks and therefore more resources are spent on them, respectively, the cost is higher. If you want to reduce the cost of the project, use the standard system functionality or ready-made solutions.

Increase development time

An urgent project requires a maximum of various resources. It demands maximum attention from different specialists and therefore the cost goes higher. Longer development time will evenly distribute the efforts of the team and will save your budget.

Reduced amount of content

Placing a large amount of content – texts, banners, videos, other things – affects the cost. It needs to be created, formatted, placed and optimized. Focus on the main thing – the storefront and the products. The rest can be added later.


Hope we managed to clarify how complicated the estimation process can be, why the project price may significantly vary and how to influence the final cost. If you have an ongoing project but have no idea how much it will cost and how long it will take, email us and our experts will guide you through the entire process of estimation and you will have a clear technical specification that states what tasks should be done to achieve your goal.

Talk to an expert

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket