How much it costs to get an eCommerce store?
There are hundreds of eCommerce solutions available in the market, and each offers something unique. However, you don’t need everything that every other business is using. Every business is unique in terms of goals, products, business model, and investment limitations. You must know what kind of software would work best for your unique requirements and venture constraints.
There are two major types of eCommerce solutions/platforms available in the market:
- SaaS-based eCommerce platforms
- Open-source eCommerce platforms
SaaS-based eCommerce platforms
SaaS eCommerce platforms are well known for their simplicity of management and swiftness of building eCommerce stores. These are ready-made eCommerce solutions, which are delivered through cloud as hosted service. You can simply sign-up and setup your online store in just a few hours using a graphical user interface.
- No coding knowledge required
- No web hosting required
- No technical team required
However, you are required to pay some monthly or yearly recurring fee based on the features you want to use. The recurring fee includes the cost of using the platform and other miscellaneous charges like payment processing fee, hosting fee, SSL certificate cost, and commissions per sale.
Such solutions are best suited to entrepreneurs who do not want to deal with the complications of website development and just want to focus on their business development. You can focus on making your sales while the SaaS vendor will take care of everything technical such as web hosting, platform customization, security updates, payment processing, and others.
- The recurring fee becomes hefty over an extended period.
- You don’t get complete control on your website and business.
- Complete dependence on vendor for technical customizations.
- Solutions are closed-source; no source code is available to you.
- No or minimum customizability. Have to deal with existing features.
Top 5 SaaS-based eCommerce platforms in 2019:
- Shopify (starts from $29/month)
- BigCommerce (starts from $29.95/month)
- Squarespace (starts from $16/month)
- Volusion (starts from $29/month)
- Big Cartel (starts from $9.99/month)
Please note: These are the preliminary pricing plans. However, the opening pricing plans are generally not sufficient to start a full-fledged eCommerce store with at least hundreds of products. Moreover, most of the useful features are either locked or not available with lower plans. You would need to purchase higher plans to enjoy full features. For example, the recommended plan for Shopify comes for $299/month.
Open-source eCommerce platforms
As the name suggests, these are ready-made online store builders with open-source code access. You are offered with a source code that you can install on any web-host and setup your entire site in a few hours.
Why would you want an open-source eCommerce platform?
- To get absolute control over your site and business.
- To avoid recurring charges as in SaaS-based solutions.
- To get higher scalability and customizability on the website.
You can consider open-source eCommerce platforms as a modular approach to build something big. They work on the principle of giving you control of what you want in your web store. You can micro-personalize your store and select every feature to add as a module.
For example, a particular platform may come with a certain payment gateway pre-loaded. However, if you don’t want the same, or thinking about using some other payment gateway, you can simply install a module for it.
- With access to the source code, you need some technical skills to manage the same.
- You need a team to manage the platform and its technical aspects.
- Free open-source platforms have limited features. You need to purchase extra modules.
- You are responsible for finding a good web host for your eCommerce store.
- Site management and admin UI is generally trickier than SaaS-based solutions.
Top 5 open-source eCommerce platforms in 2019:
- WordPress WooCommerce plugin
- Magento Community edition
- Drupal Commerce plugin
- Premium Open-source platforms
Apart from these free open-source eCommerce platforms, many vendors have developed some premium open-source platforms as well. The limitation with free platforms is that they offer very limited features and most of the features are not even useful to everyone. Moreover, to get access to advanced features and priority technical support, you need to purchase extra modules and services, which are quite expensive.
That’s where premium, also called as custom open-source platforms, provide all useful features and dedicated technical support out-of-the-box. It could be a better option than other solution methods as it offers the combined benefits of both SaaS and Open-source platforms.
- Ready-made and out-of-the-box solutions
- Easy to use, no technical skills required
- Full customizability & source code access
- One-time payment; no recurring charges
- Absolute control on platform and business
The only limitation of such solutions is their higher one-time cost. Though you get everything out-of-the-box, you still have to pay a hefty upfront cost to purchase the source code. Not every startup can afford an upfront $2000 payment for the website and mobile apps.