How Much Does It Cost To Build an Ecommerce Site on Spree

One of the most popular kinds of web applications currently present on the market are ecommerce sites. Indeed, most businesses profit from selling some products or services, and if they can go online with that proposition, they need a web storefront to offer.

But how much does it cost to build an ecommerce site? Most articles on the Internet would give an exact sum for many reasons: each and every storefront is unique, so it’s hard to estimate the amount of works that needs to be done, not mentioning the difference in prices in different countries.

Since our certified Spree Commerce developers offer these services, we decided to go another way and define a unique methodology that would allow us to come up with exact numbers. Learn more about it below to figure out how we got the final numbers in the bottom of this post.

The Methodology

As you might already know, when developing products like web storefronts from scratch, we use the Lean approach. This approach implies that any business should first deliver an MVP, that is a minimum viable product.

The idea behind it is to spend as less money as possible to release a very limited product that already addresses the users’ problem. For instance, in terms of a web storefront you want your customers first of all to be able to buy products. Only then you can think of discounts, promotions, additional payment systems integrations etc.

Now, based on our experience — and we have delivered a couple dozens of ecommerce sites and similar solutions — we see that most ecommerce MVPs have a lot of functions in common. Thus, we can list them, count how much efforts it requires us to deliver it and thus come up with the cost of these efforts.

When we mention efforts, we, obviously, mean hours. However, here we have a problem: a particular feature can be easy to implement for an experienced developer and required additional studying and research for a newbie. Because of that we’re going to introduce story points. Story points measure the volume of the work, not the duration required to make it. If you want a thorough comparison of those two approaches, check out our Story Points vs Hours blog post. While a single story point can take from 2 to 16 hours to be done, when speaking of a total number of story points, we can easy average it to 6-7 hours/story point.

Next, as you have already figured out from the headline, we’re going to base our estimations on using Spree. SpreeCommerce is a web storefront platform allowing to build ecommerce sites much more quickly, as it already includes most of the required functionality, and setting it up is simple and quick. To dissolve any doubts, check out our blog post named Five Good Reasons to Use SpreeCommerce for Your Storefront.

SpreeCommerce proved itself a great tool for implementing web storefronts not only because it helps to develop solutions much more quickly, but also because these solutions indeed work. Just recently we have helped our client to migrate from a Yahoo platform to Spree, and then they saw a 37% increase in sales:

Finally, when speaking of feature implementation, each feature requires all or at least some of the next things to be done:

  • UI/UX responsive design (the visual look and feel of a feature)
  • HTML/CSS responsive implementation (the visual look and feel of a feature turned into code)
  • Backend programming (the core functionality of the feature)
  • Frontend programming (the functionality of the feature available for interaction)
  • Automation tests (the inner actions aimed to check if a feature is implemented correctly)
  • Acceptance manual testing (the amount of works helping to check if the feature is implemented according to initial requirements)

When estimating the efforts required to implement the needed functionality, we will take all this scope of works into account by default.

Functional Estimation

After we have agreed to start building a product, everything starts with:

  1. UI/UX design. At this point we define the required UX scenarios, set a color scheme and a style guide, and, if needed, design a product’s logo.

    Estimates: 4 story points.

  2. Database, web application design and deployment scripts. This is the scope of works that includes configuring backend and frontend tools, designing the database structure and running deployment scripts.

    Estimates: 3 story points.

After that we proceed to implementing features. Since every feature is available for a particular type of user, we first must define the required user roles:

  • Site visitor — a visitor who hasn’t yet signed up in the system and has access to a limited number of functions on the site
  • Logged in user - a visitor who signed up in the system and has access to additional features
  • Customer — a visitor who has purchased an item
  • Administrator - a super-user assigned by a site owner to have additional rights

Now we can proceed to the functional estimations.

Authorization and security

Site visitors should be able to:

  • Sign up to the system using email and password or a social network (Facebook, Twitter, G+)
  • Login to the system using email and password or a social network (Facebook, Twitter, G+)
  • Reset my password in case I forget it

Logged in users should be able to:

  • Update their settings (name, email, password, etc.)
  • Make their data private and invisible for other users

Estimates: 8 story points


Site visitors should be able to:

  • See a list of best sellers on the main page
  • See a list of products on a product's category page
  • Use filters and sorting to find products they are interested in
  • Use the Search field to find the products by keywords
  • See a detailed information about a product on the product page

Estimates: 26 story points

Shopping cart

Site visitors should be able to:

  • Add a product to their shopping carts
  • See products and total costs into their shopping carts
  • Manage products into their shopping carts before moving to payments

Estimates: 7 story points

Checkout process

Site visitors should be able to:

  • Checkout from the shopping cart page
  • Add shipping information
  • Add billing information
  • Pay for products using my banking card
  • See an order summary during the checkout process

Estimates: 8 story points


Customers should be able to:

  • See list of my orders
  • See an order’s state

Estimates: 3 story points

Admin panel

Administrators should be able to:

  • Manage products
  • Manage product’s categories
  • Configure taxes
  • Manage shipping methods
  • Manage client's orders
  • Manage registered users
  • Manage static pages

Estimates: 0 story points. Spree already has it. In most cases, we don’t need to customize it.

Total: 58 story points or 348-406 hours.

Converting Efforts Into Money

Now that we have the amount of time required to deliver an MVP for an ecommerce site, we need to know the hourly rate of web development companies. For that matter, we collected the data from and got the next picture:

What are the hourly rates of web development companies across the world?

However, we believe that simply multiplying the number of hours by an hourly rate is not the best idea. The main reason here is that when you come to the US company to deliver a storefront aimed for the US citizens, they already perfectly know the market and can build a very solution that perfectly meets users’ needs. On the contrary, if you go to the Asian web development company to build a product for, say, a European market, their lack of business expertise may result in requiring additional time for research.

That’s why we think it’s important to introduce a country’s development quality rate (CDR). Thus:

  • Companies in the US, as well as Western and Central Europe, have an advantage of knowing their markets, so their CDR equal 1.
  • Developers from Eastern Europe and India, who can have a deep technical expertise, may not know the specifics of the markets you’re targeting for, so their development quality rate will make 1.2.

Note: these rates represent an average picture. You may find both a really weak company in the US (CDR = 1.2) and a very solid-standing and experienced team in India (CDR = 1).

Now we can estimate the final cost of a typical web marketplace project by the next formula:

Final Cost = Total Number of Story Points * Average Time for one SP * Country’s Development Rate * Country’s Hourly Rate

Using this formula, we can easily estimate the cost of an ecommerce MVP in any country. Here are a couple of examples:

Web storefront MVP’s

approximate cost in…

Web storefront having

all common features

Total: 58 story points, 348-406 hours

Outsourcing countries

(India or Ukraine, $35/hour, CDR = 1,2)



($60/hour, CDR = 1,0)



($150/hour, CDR = 1,0)


This table represents the possible costs of standard web storefront MVPs all over the world. In case you want something more unique, the final cost may be slightly different. Based on our experience, the maximum increase in price usually varies between 10-30% due to the unusual requirements.

If You Need More

Since there is a great amount of tools, frameworks, platforms, libraries of code available to speed up the development of web storefronts, our RubyGarage teams usually deliver ecommerce MVPs within 2-3 months. A usual team consists of two developers and a designer. Just like the table above states, the final cost of such MVP varies between $14,000—$17,000.

However, if you have a specific case, for instance, a web storefront requiring unique functionality or specific updates, we need to take a further look into your idea. After that, we will be able to provide you with a detailed scope of required work for free. Of course, you’ll get project cost estimations as well, so don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how much it will cost to build the ecommerce site of YOUR dream.

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