I'm thinking about starting an online store, what are the costs involved?

If you don't already have a site with us, then you'll need to first create a site. You could either use one of our free skins for your site design, or if you are a professional company we recommend that you invest in a nice, custom design. See our design pricing for details on that phase.

Once you have a website we can easily subscribe you to the store functionality, which integrates user accounts and a store directly into your site. This is an instant process.

About the Store
The store module allows you to create different types of products (e.g. distribute digital products by controlling downloads online or traditional products, bundles/packages, memberships, etc), assign them to various nested categories, brands, topics, etc. You can add images, slideshows, even video previews of the product. You can control discounts and coupon codes for specific products or everything in the store. You are able to manage royalty information and inventory for each product, as well as track the sales and view reports on your sales. You can even filter your reports by any field and export the results for other programs.

There is more powerful (and more expensive) e-commerce software available to power your store, should you wish to utilize other third party options. But these are an overkill for most people. Also what makes our store attractive is that it is integrated directly into your site, sharing information with the accounts and other modules of your site, and manageable from your CMS control panel. Like everything in our CMS, everything is compatible and shares information. That saves thousands on setup costs and just makes your site more pleasing to your visitors and easier to manage. Plus one of our unique advantages is that everything is customizable. So if you need the store to operate in a unique way, we can customize the functionality for you.

It goes without saying that the store will handle all the online billing and interaction with your credit card processing Merchant Account. All you have to do is post the products and when people buy something the store takes care of the billing.

Our Costs

Store Subscription: The store is an included feature in the Pro package, so your monthly subscription costs already covers the usual software licensing fee and the extra support for this module. The store can also be added on to any other package that doesn't already include it.


Additional Third Party Costs

1. Merchant Account: to process credit cards you will need a "Merchant Account" with a bank (contact your local bank to see what they have to offer). You may already have a Merchant Account, if you do business and accept credit card payments through traditional means. If not, there are a lot of companies out there that offer this service, but we recommend using a company that you trust, namely your local bank. Usually this costs a couple hundred dollars to setup, and then they take a percentage of all your sales, e.g. 2-3%.

2. Internet Payment Gateway: in order for your store to communicate with your merchant account, you need a "gateway". There are lots of companies that provide this service as well, and your merchant account will undoubtedly recommend one to you, however, we advise you to reject their offer and to get an account with Authorize.net. Authorize.net is an industry standard, with reasonable rates and what's more important, we already have the programming in place to communicate with their servers, so there is no additional cost for you. If you choose to use another payment gateway, you will have to pay us to program a new connection to their API.

Authorize.net will cost about $99 to setup as well (sometimes they have special discounts where they waive some of the costs). They will also charge about $20/mo for their services, but they take no percentage.

3. Secure Certificate: In order to process payments online securely you will need to be sure that your site is using SSL encryption. This is easy to enable on your site, and free. However, most browsers will issue a warning error to your visitors if there is not a signed "certificate" from an authorized and respected certifying authority. It's a bit of a racket, but it is necessary. So you will need to purchase a secure certificate so that your visitors can know that your site is secure. It's important that your visitors have confidence in your security so they don't mind using their credit card online. This is less and less of an issue these days, since buying online is not a big deal to most people anymore. But it's still a necessity to present your credentials.

Optional Costs
All the functionality that is available on your site uses one of our system page designs by default. These look very nice and generally integrate wonderfully into any site design, requiring no further custom design (which saves you money). However, sometimes your website may need to make an extra good impression on a page or two, so you will want to have us customize the look or functionality of those specific pages.

Where this is most relevant to you is the store. Our "default" store looks and works nicely, but there is no guarantee that it will be exactly what you want. Once the store setup is complete, you can take a look and see if you want to customize the look or functionality. We recommend that most people customize at least the look of the "product list page" and the "product details" page, while strongly encouraging them to customize the store cart and checkout pages. In addition, the store has a lot of "extra" functionality available, such as "top ten product" lists, "recommended lists", "cart preview", etc. These can show up in the side bar of the site. Because the store is a lot more complex than a regular page of the site, customizing these areas is always a bit more time intensive and not part of the normal design install.

So you may decide not to customize them at first, if they look alright. But if you do decide to customize them, we would probably quote you $300/page, to do a basic custom design for those pages. And about $50/side bar feature.


Summary of Costs

Our Costs
Pro Subscription: $95/mo

Other Costs to Consider
Merchant Account Setup: ~ $300
Merchant Account Monthly: ~ 2-3% of sales
Authorize.net Setup: ~ $99
Authorize.net Monthly: ~ $20/mo

*  Please check for current pricing.

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