How long does it take to build a good eCommerce website?

Online sales can be daunting. And building a good eCommerce store can sound like an impossible task.

However, it’s actually not that hard if You know what to expect.

Yes, it will require money, time and effort. There is no way around that. And it usually will be more than You think at first.

Therefore, You’re probably wondering –  how much it will cost and how much time will it take? 

Well, the answer to those questions is simple – it depends. 🙂

That’s why we have to break the questions down into smaller parts. And today we’re focusing on time. Estimating costs will be covered in a different article. 

Let’s jump right in – so, how long does it take to build a ecommerce website?

What to expect - how long does it take to build a eCommerce website?

Developing an eCommerce website can take anywhere from one day to several months. The required timeframe largely depends on the website’s complexity and the team working on the project.

It’s very important to find the perfect balance of complexity and build time.

It can make or break the success of Your project.

That’s why It’s useful to partner with an eCommerce strategy agency. They can help You plan the project ahead of time, making sure You don’t bite off more than You can chew.

This is actually what we help our clients with here at Goweb. 

Therefore, let me share the questions that we usually consider when working with a client on their eCommerce strategy.

How long does it take to build a eCommerce website? Well, that depends on the complexity of the project. More complexity means longer build time.

How complex is Your eCommerce project?

Almost no two websites are the same. They can vary significantly based on their purpose and required functionality. 

The more functionality is required, the more time is required for programming. If You are starting a new project, most probably You are looking at these options:

If You’re planning on using a ready-made eCommerce platform (like Shopify or BigCommerce), You can build a basic store in 1-3 days.

Example of eCommerce store built with Shopify. You could, probably, achieve something similar on the platform quite quickly. Check it out here.

However, if You’re looking for custom functions or You have thousands of products, building an online store that can handle that will take 3-12 months.  And most likely You will have to partner with a web development agency or external developers. 

Amazon.com has advanced custom functionality – like recommendation engine, search, etc. Building the layout is easy, however creating similar functionality would be very time consuming and expensive. 

This also brings Us nicely to the next thing to consider – who will be working on the project?

Who will be working on the development?

Size and skill of the team working on the website is the second most important factor when it comes to the required timeline.

This choice goes hand-in-hand with the difficulty of the project. If You’re looking to build a complex eCommerce store, You will need a team that can handle that. If You are building something simple, You can probably rely on a eCommerce platform and do it yourself. 

Relying on Your own skills

If You want to rely on Your own skills (or a small internal team), there are important things to consider.

First, You must budget time for learning. This time should be used to research and understand the available tools. If You don’t spend enough time in the research phase, You can face severe delays later on in the project. This is because unexpected problems come up always. And if You have done enough research, You will be able to solve them much faster.

Generally, I dedicate about 25% of the timeline to research useful tools and methods. I highly encourage You to do this too.

Working with an agency or external developers

For larger projects, it is recommended to hire professional help. Usually, this help comes in the form of an agency or freelance developers. This can be a great choice, allowing You to build something that’s better than the competition.

What to expect when working with a eCommerce development agency?

How long does it take to build a ecommerce website when working with an agency? The workflow of every agency is a bit different. However, most projects can be divided into the following steps and timelines.

Stages and timeline

Proposal (3-6 weeks)

The first step of any web development project is the proposal. 

It all starts with You sharing Your vision for the end-product. This is a very important step. If You fail to communicate what You’re expecting – well, don’t expect the end result to be great. 

Typically an agency will respond in 1-2 weeks with a general offer of how they see the project could be accomplished.

If you’re pleased with the general offer, it’s time to plan the specifics. This includes keyword research, interviews with customers, auditing any existing websites You have, and any other tasks that help plan the project in detail. This generally takes about 2-4 weeks.

In conclusion, it should take an agency 3-6 weeks to finish the proposal stage. 

Development (4-12 weeks)

This is the stage where the website is actually created. 

First, this includes setting up all the technical stuff that happens in the background, which actually makes Your online store work. Usually, this is called the backend. Without anything extremely complex, it should take about 1-4 weeks

Next comes front-end development. This largely includes what Your customers will see when interacting with Your website. While this work is less complex that working with the backend, front-end development can be quite tricky too. Therefore, giving a good timeframe estimate is hard. However, we usually aim for another 1-4 weeks.

Finally, You have to actually add content. This is often referred to as content creation. This includes tasks like writing product descriptions and customer support information, adding product images, and writing SEO titles and meta descriptions. Content creation is done in 2-4 weeks, on average. 

Altogether, the development stage takes 4-12 weeks. Now, bear in mind that this is an average – Your experience may differ. 

Hand-off and launch (1-2 weeks)

Congratulations, Your new online store is ready to accept sales!

But wait – is it really?

Before launching, You should always thoroughly check the entire website. Do all pages work as expected? Is Google able to crawl pages? Are the payment methods working? These are just some of the things You should test. 

Another important step to consider is actually learning how to administrate the online store. If you have a team that will have to work directly with the website, You must make sure they know how to use it. This includes training for customer support specialists, content creators and admins. 

You should plan about 1-2 weeks for this process. 

A good eCommerce development agency will take care of these things for You make the hand-off process as easy as possible. They should make sure that everything is working correctly and that Your team has the knowledge to use the admin functionality of the website. 

Conclusion

So, how long does it take to build a ecommerce website? 

On average it can range from a couple of days to several months

When working with an agency to develop Your online store, this is what You should expect regarding the timeline:

  • Proposal – 3-6 weeks;
  • Development – 4-12 weeks;
  • Hand-off and launch – 1-2 weeks.

Please keep in mind that all of these are estimates. As discussed, Your timeline will vary depending on the project’s complexity and the team working with You.

If You need help in deciding what is the best solution for creating Your eCommerce project, contact me.

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Article by:
Ed Lapins
Ed Lapins
Founder & CEO of GOWEB ACADEMY. I help businesses sell more online with digital marketing and eCommerce conversion rate optimization. In 2019 my clients made more than 10M USD in online sales.
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