Breaking into e-commerce is not as easy as it was a decade ago. With thousands of online stores competing in the same niche, building an e-commerce store using the platform’s out-of-the-box features just doesn’t cut it. Shopify’s flexibility and fast time-to-market increases the number of new merchants. And we see an increase in demand especially for custom Shopify website development. However, the very first question that arises is: how much does it cost to build a Shopify website from scratch?

In practice, it’s impossible to give a precise estimation of how much custom website development will cost without going over the project plan’s details. We can, however, lift the curtain on how custom Shopify website cost is determined. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What factors affect the final cost of a custom Shopify store
  • An approximate price range for each stage of custom website development
  • The difference between Shopify development agencies you can hire for your project
Before we jump into our custom Shopify website development cost breakdown, make sure your knowledge of Shopify is as accurate as possible using our thorough Shopify tutorial for beginners!

Associated Cost of Building a Shopify Website

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first: how much does it cost to set up a Shopify website? What we mean by that is the associated and recurring payment to Shopify: the subscription plan.

There are three Shopify plans to choose from:

  • Basic, $29 per month
  • Shopify, $79 per month
  • Advanced, $299 per month

All of these plans make it possible to create a fully functional online store.

Shopify Plus

There is also an enterprise-level subscription plan called Shopify Plus. It’s the most costly plan, which charges $2,000 per month and offers advanced customization features to fit the needs of a grand business. While the price is certainly up there, this plan provides exclusive e-commerce features and 24/7 priority technical support for all platform questions.

For merchants that have some knowledge and experience in development, Shopify Plus can become a great solution as you can always turn to a team of merchant success ecommerce experts and technical support to help you achieve your goals. However, it may take some time to implement all of the changes considering that the support team consists of many members, some of which may require you to explain your ideas again and again.

Shopify Plus is definitely a find for large businesses so they can empower standard Shopify features with automation tools for sales and promotions, utilize the built-in wholesale channel solution, create customizable checkouts, and more. It also gives rich options for customization to provide your development team powerful tools to tailor highly custom solutions that serve the exclusive needs of your business.

For now, let’s finally start unfolding how much it costs to build a Shopify website.

Factors That Affect Custom Shopify Website Cost

The first step to figuring out how much it costs to make a Shopify website is understanding the basic factors that affect the final price. The three factors are:

  • 1. Complexity of the project
  • 2. Timeframes
  • 3. Rates of the development company you hire

The complexity of the project will be the most significant aspect of how much custom development will cost you. It’s hard to estimate an average price for such services, considering that every project has different requirements to fit the needs of a certain business. If you need a complex and somewhat niche functionality for your store, then a more experienced developer will be assigned to your project. It’s also in your best interest to conduct thorough research about the feature you want to create beforehand. Otherwise, you risk developing something you don’t fully understand, which can lead to issues during the process and ultimately increase the price.

The timeframes you set will also play a role in the complexity of your project. If you set tight deadlines, then the company you chose would need to reschedule their other projects and possibly involve team members in after hours work. Of course, working at odd hours means the pay rate will be higher than standard. Don’t forget that most developing companies charge per hour.

While the complexity of the project and the timeframes you set are more straightforward aspects, not a lot of merchants realize there are different kinds of development agencies. Making the right choice of whom you hire to bring your project to life will undoubtedly have a major impact on the cost of building a Shopify website.

Types of development companies

Let’s stop and discuss what kind of development companies exist and what the difference is in their services and rates. Generally, we categorize them into three types: boutique e-commerce development companies, web development companies, and big name e-commerce development companies.

Boutique e-commerce development company

A boutique e-commerce development company has in-depth knowledge of Shopify’s structure and platform-specific development intricacies. Such companies tackle fewer projects at a time, providing a more thorough and flexible development process.

The rates of boutique e-commerce development companies are typically higher compared to web development companies which don’t have as much specialization in e-commerce. But the value they are able to bring to your e-commerce is uncountable. You can expect such a company to charge around $50 to $100 per hour.

Big name e-commerce development company

These companies are well-versed in the e-commerce niche with an experienced staff so you can expect quality development services. However, large development companies assemble bigger teams to work on the projects and have established procedures and excessive bureaucracy as a result.

Ultimately, they are less flexible in tailoring projects to clients’ needs. The total custom Shopify website cost will include the price for their big name and will undoubtedly be the highest on the market. Generally, this type of company would charge $100 – $200 per hour.

Web development company

Such companies provide a wide range of web development services for various platforms and website types, like creating e-commerce stores, information portals, blogs, forums, etc. This means you can’t expect deep expertise in the Shopify architecture, features, or fast turnaround time for project completion. However, general web development agencies tend to have the lowest rates, charging around $25 – $100 per hour.

With that being said, despite their rates being lower, the time they need to complete the project is usually higher. So, you might end up paying the same price anyway.

Of course, thorough research of the Shopify development company is a must before signing an agreement. But now that you know the difference, you can make a more informed decision.

Regardless of which type of development agency you hire, a custom Shopify website would need to go through several stages of development, all of which will have an impact on the total cost.

Development stages of a custom Shopify website

Since most development companies charge hourly rates, it’s important to know what stages of development your custom Shopify store would need to go through. If you want a lot of features and custom functionality, then it will take more time to complete each stage, which results in a higher price tag. Keep in mind that some stages are completed by different team members, such as business analysts, developers, designers, and QA engineers.

Let’s go over the six development stages, from the initial consultation to the final product, and estimate the average time needed to complete each stage.

#1 Project plan

E-commerce merchants are usually businesspeople who aren’t technically aware. They come up with a rough list of requirements for their store, which are based on the data about their business competitors, personal preferences, and peculiarities of the internal business processes. This is the time when business analysts come into play to transform these requirements into technical tasks for the team, discuss which of the requirements go with a platform by default, which can be realized with the help of available third-party solutions, and which can be custom developed to meet all your business needs.

After the analyst consultation, where you go over all of the project requirements, the team will conduct a deep analysis of the project plan to define the scope of the work. The analysis will give a more precise time estimation, as well as give you an approximate cost of custom Shopify website development. This stage usually takes up to 40 hours.

#2 Design

Designing a Shopify store from scratch is a long process that requires very specific knowledge about Shopify theme architecture. This stage is divided into two steps:

  • Wireframing. The designer creates a blueprint of your website based on your requirements. It will serve as the foundation for your custom Shopify theme design. Using a wireframe, you can visualize how elements within your theme architecture will connect to each other.
  • UI design. Based on the wireframe, the designer will proceed to create a full-color user interface (UI) design. UI design focuses on the overall design of the store, as well as creating and stylizing visual elements on every page, like menus, buttons, footers, etc.

Depending on your stylistic wishes and the number of further corrections, the designing stage can take between 80 to 120 hours of work.

#3 Development

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to a full custom website, development takes the longest to complete. The team of developers would need to complete two steps:

  • 1. Build the store’s theme and every visual element of your design. This step usually takes around 80 hours.
  • 2. Develop custom logics, features, and functionality. For a medium-level project, this step can take around 300 hours.

Again, how long this stage lasts will depend on your project requirements. From our experience, it takes around 380 hours to develop both the Shopify theme design and custom functionality.

#4 Integrations

Even when developing a custom Shopify website, you will still end up using third-party integrations or apps to help you manage the store. Sometimes, when implementing these apps into a custom-made website, some integrations can cause incompatibility issues, which require further debugging and, consequently, affect the time and cost of development. This stage can take around 10-15 hours.

#5 Speed optimization

Speed optimization is also a significant step that ensures the final product meets industry standards. When most of the work is done, it’s necessary to go back and test the website’s loading speed and optimize it if needed. When the whole work is done in accordance with the best development and industry standards, this stage can take up to 10 hours.

To Make Your Shopify Store Super Fast
Shopify speed optimization

#6 Testing

In practice, testing is not the last stage of custom Shopify website development but rather an ongoing process. The QA engineer’s job comprises of multiple responsibilities:

  • Testing to see if the features work properly and don’t cause bugs after they have been implemented
  • Making sure that the elements of an implemented design correspond with the wireframes
  • Identifying problem areas and adding them to a tracking system

Since testing is something that needs to be done frequently throughout the development process, this stage can last up to 40 hours overall.

Cost of Shopify Development: App vs Theme

When it comes to custom Shopify website development, some merchants may be looking for a custom design or custom functionality. After all, these are two different processes and will be priced differently. Below, we will go over the specifics for each of these custom development processes and try to estimate the total cost.

Custom Shopify app pricing

When it comes to custom functionality development, you must have a very precise idea of its purpose in your store. If it’s a simple feature or small functionality extension, perhaps your best bet would be to find a suitable app on Shopify App Store and save your budget on custom development. You can also check out our two-part series about the best Shopify apps to see if the app you’re looking for already exists.

With that being said, if you want significant functionality extensions, then it’s best to hire someone to build a Shopify app for your store. At the same time, the more complex functionality of a custom app you want, the more it will cost.

The number of work hours needed to complete a custom Shopify app will be clearer after the initial consultation with the company. From our experience at Whidegroup, custom app development can take anywhere from 80 hours of work for smaller-scale apps to 2,000 hours of work for a complex, high-level project.

For example, our team developed a private app called Inventory Control. The app generates CSV reports that are sent straight to the merchant when any changes are made to the inventory. This includes items being sold, deleted, or modified in any way. The app focused on one specific functionality and is considered to be a small-scale project. It took 85 hours to complete the app from start to finish.

Judging from that example, you can see that more complex Shopify apps, which focus on several functionality aspects, take over 100 hours of work. On average, it would take around 300 hours to develop a medium-level complexity Shopify app. Below, we are giving you an average price estimation.

Type of a company

Boutique e-commerce development company

Big name e-commerce development company

Web development company

Type of a company

Average hourly rates

Boutique e-commerce development company

$50 – $100

Big name e-commerce development company

$100-$200

Web development company

$25-$100

Type of a company

Estimated cost for custom app development (~300 hours)

Boutique e-commerce development company

$15,000 – $30,000

Big name e-commerce development company

$30,000 – $60,000

Web development company

$7,500 – $30,000
Want a More In-depth look into custom app development?
Shopify app development cost

Shopify custom theme cost

In technical language, the “Shopify website design” refers to the Shopify theme — a structure that encompasses every element of design in your store. To be able to build a Shopify theme from scratch, you must understand how Shopify theme architecture works. This automatically turns the seemingly simple website design project into a much more niche and nuanced process.

Shopify also uses a special kind of template language to build themes known as Liquid. It was created specifically for Shopify, and it serves as the foundation of Shopify’s theme architecture.

The good news is, when you work with a company that knows the specifics of Shopify theme development, the project doesn’t usually take any more time than an average website design project. Generally, it takes around 160-200 hours of work to complete a custom Shopify theme from scratch.

On average,160 hours of work would be enough to create, implement, and test a fully fleshed-out website design. We will use this number as our example to estimate the Shopify custom theme cost.

Type of a company

Boutique e-commerce development company

Big name e-commerce development company

Web development company

Type of a company

Average hourly rates

Boutique e-commerce development company

$50 – $100

Big name e-commerce development company

$100-$200

Web development company

$25-$100

Type of a company

Estimated cost for custom Shopify theme (~160 hours)

Boutique e-commerce development company

$8,000 – $16,000

Big name e-commerce development company

$16,000 – $32,000

Web development company

$4,000 – $16,000
We uncovered every detail about custom theme creation
Custom Shopify theme development

So, How Much Does a Custom-Made Shopify Site Cost?

Based on the information we have given you so far, you should already start to see the approximate cost of a custom Shopify website. Again, we want to emphasize that it’s impossible to figure out the definitive cost of a completely custom Shopify website. The final price will heavily rely on the project’s requirements which need to be discussed with the development team.

You can also check out our case studies to see examples of custom development we completed in the past. By analyzing specific case studies, you can gain a clearer perspective of how this process actually goes.

With all said and done, let’s break down every step of creating a custom store and give our final estimation of the total custom Shopify website cost.

Type of a company

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

Web development company($25 – $100)

Type of a company

Project plan, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

40

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

40

Web development company($25 – $100)

40

Type of a company

Design, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

80 – 120

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

80 – 120

Web development company($25 – $100)

150 – 200

Type of a company

Theme development, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

80

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

80

Web development company($25 – $100)

100

Type of a company

Custom functionality development, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

300

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

300

Web development company($25 – $100)

350

Type of a company

Integrations, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

10 – 15

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

10 – 15

Web development company($25 – $100)

15 – 20

Type of a company

Speed optimization, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

10 – 15

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

10 – 15

Web development company($25 – $100)

15 – 20

Type of a company

Testing, hrs

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

40 – 50

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

40 – 50

Web development company($25 – $100)

50 – 60

Type of a company

Total hours

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

560 – 620

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

560 – 620

Web development company($25 – $100)

720 – 790

Type of a company

Total cost of a custom Shopify website

Boutique e-commerce development company ($50 – $100)

$28,000 – $62,000

Big name e-commerce development company ($100 – $200)

$56,000 – $124,000

Web development company($25 – $100)

$18,000 – $79,000

Final Thoughts

When it comes to custom website development, it’s not realistic to get a precise cost estimation without consulting a development company first. The final custom Shopify website cost will depend on the complexity and timeframes of the project, as well as what kind of company you choose to hire.

In this article, we shed some light on how the prices for custom website development are formed and gave you an approximate price range for such services. You also have to keep in mind that Shopify uses some platform-specific technologies, so hiring a team that has relevant expertise in Shopify development is certainly recommended. If you need any additional help or have further questions about your Shopify custom website project, be sure to reach us through our contact form. We will gladly assist you in bringing your project to life!

About the author
Content writer
Kristina is a Content Writer at Whidegroup. With a degree in Jurisprudence and passion for e-commerce and marketing, she dedicates her work to finding efficient solutions for online stores development and promotion. Being very detail-oriented, Kristina specializes in compiling comprehensive guides on the most demanded topics for e-commerce merchants.
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