How much does it cost to set up an online store?

When trying to set up an online store, we can feel a bit confused at the very beginning. This is due to the fact that we have different technological solutions at our disposal, and these generate different costs. Why are the amounts so far apart? How much does an online store cost , what affects its final price and should we rather prepare for a large investment?

E-commerce in Poland is extremely dynamic and has been maintaining this dynamics at a very high level for many years. As one of the most dynamically developing markets in Europe, it has a technologically developed background, access to specialized agencies or freelancers, as well as to industry forums. No wonder that several hundred new e-shops are opened in Poland every month. New e-entrepreneurs or those who have previously conducted traditional sales enter the e-market. The online store opens its doors to new customers not only in Poland, but also in Europe and around the world.

2023 - what costs should be taken into account when setting up an online store?

Setting up an e-shop is now much simpler and cheaper than setting up a small brick-and-mortar store. But not only the cost is important here, the online store is not limited to selling in a closed area. The online store is available to every network user, regardless of where they use the network. The cost of setting up an e-business on a professional level with a basic set of functions can be as low as €250-€500. Slightly more developed stores will require more funds, from €600 to approx. €700. However, these will be stores based on a template that will be more or less individualized. A fully individual project will generate costs from €1500 upwards. Estimated amounts also apply to a specific technological solution in the form of stores built with an open source engine, i.e. with an open code.

Nothing prevents us from using the SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, i.e. a subscription proposal. The cost of starting is then much lower and may amount to only a few hundred euros. However, the downside is often the very limited possibilities of configuring the functionality of the e-shop and the obligation to pay a monthly subscription.

There are quite a lot of elements that affect the final cost of an online store. It is worth being aware not only of issues such as a set of well-chosen functions, but also that the cost is also influenced by the choice of hosting, domain or content itself.

E-commerce platform - what to choose?

In the first steps leading to starting your own e-business, we should verify what we expect from the store. We should not only assess what needs we have here and now, but also anticipate as precisely as possible the needs that may arise in the future. Finally, the e-shop must develop, and with the development, the needs will be modified. Currently, we have a choice of three e-commerce solutions in the form of open source, SaaS (subscription solution) and paid individual development of the platform.

Free solutions - open source platforms

These are open software systems, referred to as open source, in other words open source. This solution has quite a lot of advantages. It is worth noting, first of all, the almost unlimited development possibilities of such an environment. We can freely install various add-ons, functions, modules here. Suppliers such as WordPress (WooCommerce module), PrestaShop or Magento are also extremely popular, gathering thousands of communities that really develop them and also provide support for e-shop owners. One of the disadvantages may be that many features are paid, but this is basically standard. Very often we will be able to find a free solution.

The costs that we will face will be slightly different depending on the selected OS (open source) platform. If the budget is quite an important factor, then we should take a closer look at the solution offered by WordPress. Here, the implementation of a basic store, but fully ready to sell online, will generate a cost of €375-€625. However, let's keep in mind that it will be a store based on a ready-made theme (template). If we want to compose a graphically individualized and functionally developed e-shop, the costs will be higher from €750 to even several thousand euros.

Interactive agencies dealing with PrestaShop implementations will expect a fee ranging from a few hundreds to several thousand euros. As in the case of WooCommerce, it obviously depends on the complexity of the entire project. However, the platform itself is extremely user-friendly. PrestaShop provides a whole range of free features or modules.

By far the most expensive option will be an e-shop based on Magento. This is quite a demanding platform in terms of the implementation itself. If we decide on this OS and on cooperation with a professional interactive agency, we have to take into account the cost of up to €5,000 or higher.

And what is the issue of costs in the case of subscription solutions?

Another model that we can choose is the SaaS model, i.e. Software as a Service. What does it mean? This means that we rent a store as a service from the supplier of such software. There are quite a lot of suppliers, we can choose from such platforms as Shoper, RedCart, Clickshop, IdoSell, iStore, Sote, Sky-Shop, etc. When deciding on such a solution, we must take into account that we will be required to pay an annual or monthly subscription. When looking at the offers of SaaS providers, keep in mind that the costs for the first year are significantly lower, due to the fact that they offer a promotional subscription. After that, the costs will increase significantly.

There is one more important thing that we should keep in mind if we decide on a SaaS platform. We will never become the full owners of the online store, we rent it and we also do not have the opportunity to develop it freely, according to our own real needs. What's more, if we want to organize the migration of the store to another platform (e.g. open source), it will be quite a difficult but also expensive undertaking.

By purchasing space from the supplier of "Saas" online stores, we automatically get access to pre-defined (depending on the type of subscription purchased) extensions - these will be, for example, integrations with couriers, payments or Allegro. However, we must take into account strong limitations in the context of the template itself, we do not get access to the source code, while the set of functions is often very basic. Software vendors also limit the number of products we can add to the store. If the offer grows, exceeding the capabilities of the purchased subscription, it will be necessary to switch to a more expensive package.

Individually developed platforms

It is, in other words, a tailor-made solution. The solution created by the interactive agency will generate much higher costs. The project is supervised by a whole team of specialists, programmers, designers, account managers, etc. You should take into account the cost starting from several dozen thousand euros, up to several hundred.

Choosing a platform is the element of the entire process of setting up an online store that generates the highest costs. In the case of OS, the cost is one-time, SaaS will generate costs on a cyclical basis. However, you should also take into account additional fees, which will result, for example, from the purchase of a domain and hosting. These charges will occur once a year. In the case of OS, it will be important to choose the right partner that will be stable and will not require large fees. It is possible that the free features will not be enough and you will need to purchase additional features. Note also that the e-shop must be supplemented with content. There will be a lot of them - descriptions of products, categories, offers, sections about us, regulations, privacy policy are hundreds of thousands of characters with a space that someone will have to develop.

Marketing will also generate costs. If we want to optimize sales, we should carry out a number of activities that will make up the multi-channel nature of e-marketing activities. SEO, Google Ads, cooperation with influencers, affiliate networks or extensive content marketing will also generate costs when running an online store.

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