How much does an online store cost?

23.06.2012 Angelika Siczek
Working in a Software House I’m often faced with a question – how much does an online store implementation cost. It is one of the first questions asked by a person wanting to start that kind of business. Asking around 20  companies the future store owner faces quite a big challenge because on average he will get offers from tens up to a few hundred thousand zlotys. Where do these disproportionalities come from?

How much does a simple online store cost?

A store for less than a hundred thousand will be created by a programmer – usually, it is a one or two-person company. The store will be based on one of the simpler to implement solution open source with a few minor modifications or what is less popular at this price level -the programmer’s original solution. The graphic layout is usually transformed from one of the templates or a graphic design for which the graphic designer will dedicate no more than a few days of work. At this price, we will receive two weeks of work of this programmer and up to two weeks of amendments, during which he must already deal with the implementation of a new project. If we are lucky and have small requirements, the store will be completed at this stage. However, for the next year, the client will force the programmer to remove more or less serious errors that will appear during the operation of the store. Customers with such a low budget if they do not have specific requirements for types of shipments, transport and additional modules increasing sales, in my opinion, should consider buying one of the stores offered in subscription e.g. by hosting providers, it is usually the cost of 50 – 200 PLN per month. Only after the unleashing of this type of business may they become interested in a professional store, otherwise they will usually be out of money.

How much does a professional online store cost?

For those who are serious about this subject, it is possible to build a professional store – that is, created in accordance with the rules of art. A conscious customer or medium and large companies decide for this type of store. A professional store is created by the Interactive Agency and usually, several people watch over its work. These types of stores can be implemented in the amount of 100 to 200 thousand PLN. It can be a proprietary shop or based on a professional sales platform. Personally, I’m not completely convinced of fully-owned stores, because in the event of a failure or problems of the client’s implementation company, there is a risk of leaving it to itself. For this reason, for the implementation of medium-sized stores, I recommend the Magento, which is perfect for modifying solutions for a specific customer, without making the client dependent on one company.

The cost of an online store implementation

The prices given above are there for a reason and they include the following factors:
– work of interaction designer and usability specialist – at least 2 weeks (excluding specialist eye-tracking research, the cost of which starts at PLN 10,000 and assumes only the creation of a functional mock-up with tests among friends),
– graphics work – it usually takes 4 weeks of work on the preparation of the  layout – two or three proposals with designs of individual subpages (Magento has over 40 individual subpages),
– work of the webmaster – 3 months of work on cutting and coding the shop together with testing on different browsers, should be taken into account at this point that the coding of the store is possible even in two weeks, while coding it correctly in accordance with the graphics and functional design is already underway several times longer, it is the level of detail of giving particular designed details has the greatest impact on the coding time,
– programmer’s work – 3 months for implementing dedicated modules for a given store, functional structure modification and integration
– work of the Project Manager – 6 weeks (usually it runs 2-3 topics at once, but the total time devoted to one relatively simple store is usually of this order size, includes participation in meetings with the client, training, e-mails, telephone consultations),
– tester’s work – at least one month for catching errors during implementation.
Considering the fact that earnings in the IT industry are around 5-10 thousand PLN, employing one employee is for the company (without taking into account software, computers, equipment) an average cost of 10 thousand PLN per month. According to the above example, the total working time of everyone will be at least 10 months. The cost for the implementing company will, therefore, be a minimum of PLN 100,000, taking into account the 30% margin the store should cost at least PLN 130,000. Strong competition on the market means that some companies omit some elements – e.g. creating a functional mock-up, consulting with the client, using ready-made templates, hence the price may vary according to the above range.

Who is a professional online store for?

It should be noted that professional online stores would be recommended to people with a budget for implementation and a well-thought-out marketing strategy. It may turn out that despite the 50% increase in conversion, the low turnover of the store will not allow for a return on investment. For example, if a shop generates only PLN 100,000 a year, then creating a professional store is not the way to go. In the case of a store whose annual turnover is half a million, its professional performance is the most desirable. The knowledge that can be provided by the agency consisting of the simplest operations, such as larger font increasing the conversion rate by several percents, the cart based on Ajax technology reducing unnecessary elements can affect the quick return on the investment made. In the case of an e-commerce application created for the store chain, it is assumed that the online store should ultimately generate a turnover of one stationary outlet. 
A separate issue is dedicated stores created for large entities and listed companies, the implementation of which may cost up to several million zlotys.

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