Xumulus Blog

How Much Does a Website Cost – 4 Truths About Being an E-Commerce Entrepreneur

One of my favorite things to do is talk to entrepreneurs and small business owners. As a tech guy, I often get the same questions: How much to develop this idea for an app? How much for this program? How much does a website cost?

The answer, of course, is anywhere from free to a billion. You see, you can get a free website at Wix or do what Amazon did and spend like 100 billion dollars on theirs. So, somewhere in between. Obviously.

Staring back, unappreciative of the sarcasm, they respond with something like, “I just need a normal website, one to help me sell a few products.”

This is when it gets interesting. I try to actually help, so I ask a simple question, “How much do you expect to sell on this website?” They never know. They don’t know what to expect.  “I have no idea”, they say, “Double my retail sales? Triple my sales? What should I expect a site to do?”

I had a bit of the same naivety when I started my first e-commerce website. I was lucky. I built the site, launched it and it started selling hundreds of products within minutes… Not! (I still remember a friend, a construction business owner, telling me how lucky I was because the site just magically sold things and I didn’t have to do anything except count the money, ha).

This inevitably leads me to my point: Your future website won’t do anything unless you make it. And exactly what you want to make your website do affects how much the website costs. It’s really the only thing:

  • If you want to convey the uniqueness of your brand … buck up for some designers
  • If you want to convey the quality of your business and its offerings … buck up for some copywriters and marketers
  • If you want to create a unique buying experience … buck up for some developers
  • If you want good organic traffic… buck up for some great content and SEO experts
  • If your selling products.. buck up for some buyers and e-commerce managers
  • And so on …

You get the point, it’s about understanding your product or vision or website-needing endeavor. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll end up with the basics. The hard part isn’t being able to sell ten minutes from now (there are dozens of ways out there for that), it’s to be able to sell and make money.

4 Truths About Being an E-Commerce Entrepreneur

If you build it, they might NOT come!

Unlike The Field of Dreams, we are sorry to break it to you, unless your name is Smith Barney, you’re not getting any traffic until you earn it.  Sure you can pay-per-click, but you will surely lose money on your first set of ads. In some cases a lot of money. Make sure the website they land on is worth the cost of the click.

Yes, you can get traffic. Not all hope is lost, but there ain’t no way it’s gonna’ come without some work.

It won’t “do” anything unless you make it.

Yup, if you want a site that does something for you, you will have to make it do that. For a typical small company website, it may only need to cover your products and services, but if you want it to make your website truly work for you (and become a fully functioning e-commerce juggernaut) you will need direct and deliberate tactics. This means, conveying the uniqueness of your product, price, or delivery. This means creating a unique buying experience. This means creating more interesting products or a more interesting way to present them. This means, above all, finding the right person to make your vision into reality.

There is a direct correlation between how much time and money you spend making your website “do” the right things and how much it will sell.  Expect a lot, let the experts temper your expectations if they have to, but know what you want, know what you expect, otherwise, the answer to “How much does a site cost?” might actually be between free and a hundred billion.

“Cost” is a continuum.

How much a website costs is not just a one time fee.  Surely you’ll need to keep it working, invest in improvements, and most importantly, invest in making it “do” that thing you wanted it to do. Since this is directly proportional to your results, it’s vital you do not look at the “build” of the site as the most crucial, but rather the ongoing effort and expense that is required to reach your goals. Knowing what you want is one thing, knowing where you want to get to is another.

Since time is money, I encourage people to look at this in terms of people and time. Developers, designers, copywriters and marketing managers are skilled positions that demand high pay. So don’t kid yourself, it’s going to cost some money going forward. Though, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably ready to do some of this yourself. What you don’t have time to learn find a company, consultant, partner to fill the gap (maybe we can help).

You need to find something unique about your offer!!!

I cannot stress this enough.  If you are selling “widgets” and everyone else is selling “widgets” then you will be fighting an uphill battle, and if you make a “widget” website exactly like the other 900 “widget” websites, you might be fighting an uphill war. You must find a way to be unique. Yes, the dreaded unique value proposition.  It’s sometimes hard to see it, but there is always something there, for example:

  • Great pricing, though admittedly the hardest to do in the age of Amazon.
  • Great delivery
  • Custom configurations
  • Personalizations
  • Installations
  • Amazing product knowledge
  • Unique buying experience
  • Unique product(s)
  • Localized omnichannel (Local stores enabling online for customers convenience)

Uniqueness is the most difficult thing to do, and almost always increases the cost of a website, but it’s essential for success as an eCommerce entrepreneur. The good thing for you entrepreneurs is that this is why you started your business in the first place, you know how to be unique.

In the end the answer to the proverbial question, “How much does a website cost?” is still elusive (or is it?). There are a ton of different strategies which allow e-commerce sites to launch or upgrade affordably. It depends on what you have, what you need, and what your vision is.

Please contact us (to the right) if you want to get started with a site, or you just want to talk it over, we love discussing these things. We love helping you succeed.

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