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How Long Does It Take to Build an E-commerce Website?

25.02.2022 Darya Tryfanava
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How Long Does It Take to Build an E-commerce Website?

Do you want to build an e-commerce site that will improve brand loyalty and increase your customer database? Well, that’s a worthy goal. As the COVID-19 pandemic pushed businesses online, the global trend toward digitization developed at blazing speed. Even now, as many regions begin to reopen, e-commerce sales continue to grow. Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $5 trillion in 2022 and $6 trillion by 2024.

Creating an e-commerce website will take money and effort. There’s no way to do without it. But you’re probably also wondering: how long does it take to create an e-commerce website? Today, we’re going to focus on a basic understanding of development timeframes and what influences them.

Get comfortable and keep reading.

How Long Does It Take to Build an E-commerce Website?

So, how long does it take to build an e-commerce website? Unfortunately, the answer is: it depends. The process of e-commerce website development is complicated, and the required timeframe relies on many factors, the most crucial of which are the complexity of the website and the team working on the project.

For instance, if you opt for an off-the-shelf e-commerce platform, you can create a basic store in a few days. Yet, if you need custom features or have thousands of products, it will take 3–9 months.

Now, let’s take a peek at some general timeframes for building websites of different sizes and complexities.

Things to Consider: How Complex Is Your E-commerce Website?

Basic E-commerce Websites

The category of small websites includes those that are often based on a content management system (CMS) with basic functions.

Development time: 3–5 months

Moderate E-commerce Websites

Medium-sized websites have 10–20 pages and involve a lot of new content. These sites will also have an integrated CMS and features.

Development time: 6–9 months

Complex E-commerce Websites

These are sites with about 25 pages that contain lots of content and advanced custom functionality like recommendation engines, search, etc. Features include CMS, blogs, forms, shopping carts and calendars. Creating similar functionality would be time-consuming.

Development time: Up to 9 months

Well, the more functionality that is required, the more time needed for development. This also brings us to the next question: who will work on the project? And how long does each step of development take on average?

E-commerce Web Development Options: Who Will Be Working on the Development?

Let’s look at the main ways businesses choose to build an e-commerce website:

  • Template-based e-commerce website builders like Shopify or BigCommerce provide you with basic, off-the-shelf e-commerce store templates, hosting, and technical support. But they do not provide enough flexibility for changes in the underlying code. When you consider expanding your offerings, an off-the-shelf commercial solution may no longer support the scalability of your business.
  • Open-source e-commerce software such as Magento Open Source or PrestaShop allows you to download software and create an online store on its basis using ready-made e-commerce modules. This means that the source code is available to anyone who intends to edit and distribute its version without any restrictions or license fees. But it can also lead to higher costs.

    After getting free access to the initial build, you will most likely need many paid extensions or newly developed plug-ins. If you opt for an open-source platform, you will eventually have to buy more powerful servers.

  • Custom e-commerce site development allows you to create a unique platform with an intuitive UI from scratch. Many companies prefer to create custom websites, despite the accessibility of ready-made e-commerce software. It is much easier to create the software from scratch than to heavily adopt a basic solution. This is especially crucial when your sales cycle and product configurations don’t fit into the standard setup of a common online store. The features of your site can vary depending on your business model—like B2B, B2C, C2B, etc.—the size of your site, and your specific purposes.

Choosing a suitable development option is an essential issue for business owners. Are you looking for a cost-effective approach, or do you want to create robust and feature-rich software that can demonstrate your company’s value? Next, we’ll compare custom e-commerce development with simple e-commerce web builders.

Comparison Table: E-commerce Web Builder vs. Custom E-commerce Web Development

Choosing a suitable development option is an essential issue for business owners. Are you looking for a cost-effective approach, or do you want to create robust and feature-rich software that can demonstrate your company’s value? It will be more convenient to explain the differences between custom e-commerce development and simple e-commerce web builders with a comparison table.

Custom E-commerce Solution E-commerce web builder
Time to market The custom e-commerce platform requires plenty of time and human resources. You should identify requirements, find experienced developers, coordinate the software development process, and test for quality assurance. This solution can be implemented as quickly as possible. You won’t have to deal with the research, development, and testing of the software.
Implementation time and cost Usually, you should outsource software development. Ready-made solutions allow you to install the e-commerce software fast and start using it right away. You should compare the specific features and pricing of several platforms.
Maintenance and upkeep You should constantly update documentation, maintain the system properly, and further develop it. Extensive support options exist for enterprise-level plans.
Performance Ensures users get the best performance, higher efficiency, and a much better user experience since these solutions are designed specifically for the needs of the project. Performance may be worse compared to custom apps.
Licensing fees No license fees. You can overspend on an

e-commerce solution by purchasing a plan with features you’ll probably never use.

Performance risk, architectural deficiencies, bugs Since developers will be faced with countless issues and challenges, the development process will be lengthy, raising the risk of errors and bugs. With a vendor solution, you don’t have to worry about handling security, architectural deficiencies, and bugs.
Control of development and features There are no limitations on how to create an e-commerce app. You can build whatever you want without any extras and customize your e-commerce solution to fit your business needs. If your vendor does not provide an integration plugin or an API, you’ll need to accept set parameters.
Scalability You control development, time and pace, production, and upgrades. Upgrades cost extra, if available. Customization and updates may not be available, and the platform might not be suitable for your business.

E-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce allow you to create an e-commerce site almost for free, but with very limited customization options. This approach may work if you grow your business on a tight budget or just need to gather feedback from your target audience.

Custom development seems to be a more expensive and time-consuming way to create an e-commerce site. However, the expected return on investment (ROI) will also be higher. But bear in mind that even a well-developed e-commerce site will not be effective without a competent business and marketing strategy.

Custom E-commerce Web Development: How Long Does Each Step of Development Take?

Whether you want to develop a basic or complex website, you should keep in mind that all custom software projects are different and unique. Although timelines may vary, we can divide most projects into the following steps and timelines.

Requirements and Design (3–6 Weeks)

At this stage, you should first share your vision for the final product. Typically, the company responds within 1–2 weeks with a general suggestion regarding a better way to implement the project.

Then you should collaborate with your software development team to come up with a product requirements document (PRD) for an IT product. Also, you will document and discuss the application design. This generally takes about 2–4 weeks.

Typically, it will take the company 3–6 weeks to complete the proposal phase.

Planning, Architecture, and Development (2–6 Months)

With a design and PRD in hand, development of the website can begin.

Before starting, the project manager will dedicate some days to planning the team’s schedule and assigning tasks. The project manager is also responsible for identifying and minimizing risks, so you will achieve on-time, on-budget, and goal-focused delivery of high-profile projects.

Then there is the configuration of all the technical things that keep your online store running—back-end development. Next comes the development of the front end. This is basically what your customers will see when they interact with your site.

Also, you should add content. This includes writing product descriptions and customer support information, adding product images, and writing SEO headlines and meta descriptions.

In general, this stage takes between 4 and 12 weeks. Keep in mind: this is an average number, and your timeline may vary.

Testing and Launch (3–6 Weeks)

Before launching your website, you should perform tests and ensure that it meets usability and coding standards.

Note: the types of testing may vary, but all projects should undergo coding review, end-to-end testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).

Additionally, this stage may include testing the website on different operating systems, devices, or browsers. To ensure the product will remain stable, you may also perform load testing.

After-launch Support (it depends)

Once production is completed, the e-commerce website development process continues, with some team members involved in maintenance (such as fixing bugs and creating patches) or creating content.

At this stage, maintenance can last for 10–20 years, whereas additional development may take some months.

Get Ahead of the Competition by Investing in Your Brand

If you have an idea to develop a website for e-commerce and improve your business, feel free to contact us. We are glad to share our expertise and provide additional consultation.

You might also be interested in checking out a few examples of successful e-commerce websites and applications that may inspire you to implement e-commerce best practices into your business.

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