As an E-Commerce Development company, many bricks-and-mortar retailers always call and ask me this question before anything else is discussed- “how much will an e-commerce website cost me?” And I always reply with the same response, “What do you need?”
An online store can go from simple to complex, because its functionality can vary. Are your customers local or national? Do you sell to consumers or wholesalers, maybe even dealers? Do you drop-ship? Will your site be public or private? Those are just a few questions that I pose to retailers looking to get online, and the answers are different each and every time. For a few hundred dollars, you can get an online store up. Yahoo, Godaddy, and template based websites give you E-Commerce sites for cheap. BUT do you really want to give your customers the impression that you are a run-in-the-mill company? Will you be comfortable knowing your online store will look like thousands of others?
Imagine this: You are walking down the hallways of your local shopping mall. On one side you have Coach, which is a store that stands out, exudes class and brand. On the other side, you have a ROSS store (no offense to those who love that store), a location that looks like a low-end clearance store. Which store you think will appeal more to your customers? Visualizing that scenario should give you an idea of what it takes to create an Online Store.
There is so much functionality that can be done. An Online store can be customized in two ways- look and feel, and functionality. The way your online store looks is vital. The homepage must be an attention grabber, similar to what you experience when walking into a retail store. Also consider that 46% of local searches are done on mobile phones now, so if your business has a local reach, a “responsive” design, which has both a web and mobile version, should be considered. Functionality will really determine your overall investment. A simple store will allow categories, product detail pages, and checkout. But what if you want to add more?? Coupon codes, social media sharing, posting reviews, price comparison, filters, and other options are add ons, but for many retailers, must haves. Those development tools are functions that you should consider in order to realize an adequate budget.
As you see, an online store takes considerable planning. You must determine who your target customer is, what you want your visitors to experience, and how unique you want your online shopping pathways to be to your visitors. Once you figure out what exactly you need, you will be able to fetch adequate quotes with options that are ideal for your business.