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eCommerce WooCommerce Wordpress

How Much Does it Cost to Run an Online Store? A Deeper Look Into WooCommerce & WordPress Pricing

So, you’re looking to launch an online store. You’re in luck; setting up an online store has never been easier – especially with an intuitive content management system (CMS) like WordPress, coupled with WooCommerce – a plugin that allows you to add eCommerce functionality to WordPress sites. 

WooCommerce and WordPress are both free, open-source software. While this can save you money, it’s important to note that there are still some costs involved with launching and maintaining a new online store. Knowing exactly how much you’ll need to budget to launch your store will save you from future headaches and stress. We’ll break everything down for you here. 

What Are the Basic WooCommerce Costs For An Online Store? 

WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. It has the broadest collection of features and add-ons and is relatively straightforward to set up. Remember, WooCommerce is a free plugin, but you’ll need to at least pay for the essential features to make the plugin functional. That said, with WooCommerce, you’ll have a lot more control over what you spend and when you invest it than with most other eCommerce platforms. 

Hosting & Domain Registration 

WooCommerce is a plugin, which means you’ll need a WordPress site to use it. First things first, you’ll need to choose a host for your store and purchase a plan. WordPress and WooCommerce both recommend hosting sites like WP Engine and Bluehost. 

Hosting can cost as little as $6.95 per month to over $5,000 per month. Many hosts offer an initial free or low-cost period, with discounts when purchasing hosting services for two or more years. 

While you’re choosing a hosting provider, consider the following: 

  1. The number of sites on your server. If you’ll be using a shared hosting plan, keep in mind that resources will be distributed between all of the sites on the same server. This can slow things down, especially during peak times. 
  2. The security features. The baseline security features your host should offer are things like automatic backups, malware prevention, and email spam filters. 
  3. The server uptime (i.e. the percentage of time servers – and your site – are up and running). You’ll want as high a percentage as possible.  
  4. The hosting speed. A fast website starts with your host. Keep an eye out for high-level resource allocation (like RAM and CPU), SSD servers, and read through a few customer reviews to learn from their experiences. 
  5. The quality of customer service. If your site ever has problems, you’ll want them addressed as soon as possible! Look out for 24/7 customer support; just be sure to check if the host charges extra for assistance. 
  6. The ability to scale. As your online store grows, make sure you’ll be able to upgrade your hosting plan without having to migrate. 

The next step (and the cost that comes with it) is registering a domain (or site name). You can expect to pay about $15 per year for each domain name you use. Many hosts offer free domain searches, so you can find out if the domain you’re interested in is available, has already been taken, or is for sale. You’ll be able to purchase a domain from your hosting provider or domain registrars like NameCheap. 

Hosting Costs: Usually starts around $120 per year (average). 

Domain Registration Costs: $15 on average, but can be more expensive if you purchase a domain from a private seller. 

Optional Cost: eCommerce Website Theme 

If you’ve ever used WordPress, you know that thousands of free themes are available, many of which are optimized for WooCommerce. If you’re leaning towards a free theme, make sure to choose one that is well-maintained (e.g., that has been updated recently and is compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce). 

Many new eCommerce businesses start with WooCommerce’s official Storefront theme. It’s free, simple, and well-designed. There are a variety of child themes available specifically designed for various industries, and you can modify just about everything directly from the WordPress Customizer. 

Of course, there are many good reasons to invest in a theme from a WooCommerce developer instead of using a free one. For starters, free themes tend to look similar, so yours won’t stand out as much. They also have limited functions, so if you have specific wants and needs for your site, you’ll be better off with a paid theme. Not to mention, paid themes provide customer service and are regularly updated. 

Theme Cost: Paid WordPress and WooCommerce themes can cost anywhere from $20 – $100+ per year. 

Online Store Management Costs – Shipping & Payment Gateways 

Once you’ve launched your store, some essential functions come with managing it, such as shipping and payment gateways, each of which involves its own expenses. 

WooCommerce Shipping Options 

WooCommerce provides options for free shipping, flat rate shipping, and local pickup. For many small businesses, these are the only options needed. With the free WooCommerce Shipping extension, you’ll be able to connect directly with USPS and print out shipping labels right from your WordPress dashboard, saving you time and money. 

Need more advanced options? WooCommerce has you covered. Choose between dozens of shipping extensions like ShipStation Integration (starting at $9/month), Distance Rate Shipping ($79), and Table Rate Shipping ($99). See a full list of available shipping extensions.

WooCommerce Payment Gateways 

The simplest way to think of a payment gateway is that it’s the technology that allows you to safely and securely accept payments online. In the same way, a point-of-sale terminal at a brick-and-mortar cash register looks at a card’s chip to ensure the card is valid, a payment gateway helps ensure a payment is legitimate. Since you can’t access the physical card when processing an online order, the payment gateway helps do that work for you.

Each payment gateway varies in cost and structure, and WooCommerce integrates with all the major options. The best choice for most eCommerce merchants is WooCommerce Payments, which allows you to manage payments directly in your WooCommerce Dashboard. WooCommerce Payments has no setup charge and no monthly fees, but you will pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction made with credit or debit cards issued in the U.S. There’s an additional 1% fee for cards issued outside the U.S.

Some merchants can also benefit from Instant Deposits using WooCommerce Payments. Instead of waiting the standard two-day period to access your funds, you can request an instant deposit and receive the money within 30 minutes – including nights, weekends, and holidays. 

Another payment gateway option is Stripe; you won’t need to pay a monthly fee but pay 2.9% + 0.30 cents per sale. 

And, of course, there’s also Paypal (with a basic PayPal account, you’ll pay 2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction with no additional fees). This option will direct your customers to Paypal’s site, where they can pay with their PayPal account or credit card. If you want to accept credit card payments directly on your site, you can upgrade to Paypal Pro, which costs an additional $30.00 per month. View all payment gateway options.

Shipping Costs: $0 – $108 per year on average. 

Payment Gateway Costs: 2.9% + 0.30 cents per transaction, plus a monthly fee of around $0 – $30 per month. 

WooCommerce Running Costs

WooCommerce offers many free tools and extensions, many of which are borrowed directly from WordPress and adapted for WooCommerce. In short, extensions act like plugins for WooCommerce, allowing you to easily add functionality to your checkout process, payment gateways, shipping, and more. 

There are a few baseline services that no online store should be without: 

Customer Communications 

With email marketing, you’ll be able to recover abandoned shopping carts, reach out to customers to encourage repeat purchases, and thank customers for orders. With a seamless WooCommerce customer communications integration, you’ll be able to sync customers and your products, encourage upsells, and track everything from email opens to conversions.

WooCommerce integrates various email marketing tools, like MailChimp, which offers both free and paid plans (starting at $9.99 per month). View all available email marketing extensions for WooCommerce. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

With WooCommerce, you’ll be able to integrate tools like Yoast and All In One SEO, both of which provide suggestions and functionality to improve your site’s search engine rankings. Yoast and All in One SEO both offer free options with paid plan upgrades. 

Security

It’s always recommended to strengthen your site’s security, just in case. Services to look into include SiteLock (which offers a range of plans) and Sucuri ($25/month but bills annually; you’ll be charged $300). 

SSL Certificates 

It’s also essential to factor an SSL certificate into the costs of running an online store. SSL certificates encrypt sensitive information (like credit card data) between a customer’s browser and your server. It’s critical for eCommerce sites and, in many cases, is provided for free by your host. However, if your host doesn’t offer a free option, the cost varies between $8/year to $65/year. 

Communications Costs: $0 – $348 per year

SEO Costs: $0 – $79 per year 

Security Costs: $0 – $300 per year 

SSL Certificates Costs: $0 – $64 per year (per certificate) 

Customer Experience Enhancement

After you have your baseline features added to your eCommerce site, your next area of focus should be enhancements that boost the customer experience and help drive conversions. Examples of customer experience enhancements include add-ons like options for gift wrapping, waitlists, last-minute upsales, allowing customers to login with social media, creating pop-ups, assigning brands to each product, and more. WooCommerce offers both free extensions and paid options.

Just keep in mind that it’s definitely possible to go overboard by adding too many extensions. Overdoing it can slow down your site and overwhelm potential customers. 

Customer Experience Enhancement Costs: $0 – $299 + (for each extension)

What About Hiring a WordPress/WooCommerce Developer? 

After you’ve launched your site, you may be able to hire a developer at an hourly rate to assist with elements of your site that are outside of your expertise. Experienced developers’ fees will typically range from $55 – $100+ an hour. Or, you can hire a developer to design and build your entire website from start to finish. This cost will also vary but might cost anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000+. 

Developer Costs: Typically $55 – $100+ per hour

With WooCommerce, You Can Customize Your Online Store & Your Budget 

Ultimately, the amount you spend on your online store is up to you! Remember, you have complete control over budgeting and prioritizing the needs of your website and business. 

The ability to customize WordPress and WooCommerce doesn’t just mean creating a unique look and functionality – that customization includes the costs associated with developing and running a store. 

That said, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s possible to create a fully functioning store for the cost of a domain name and hosting plan (as low as $135+ per year). Well-funded or established online stores could spend thousands or more.

The bottom line: With some customization, most store owners can probably get started for around $1,000.


Ready to get started with your online store? Connect with EX Labs for a free consult today.

By Merilyn Ritchie

Merilyn Ritchie is the Director of Media Services and Content Strategy at EX Media. She has crafted content for small businesses, large non-profits, tech startups, and everything in between. Writer by day and reader by night, she loathes to talk about herself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time. So it goes. Find her on Instagram: @MerilynMcg