The hidden costs of running an e-commerce business

Thanks to advances in technology, there are now more opportunities than ever before to run a successful e-commerce business.

Allowing you to connect and engage with mass audiences, in all corners of the globe, 24 a day, 7 days a week, there has been a stark rise in e-commerce businesses launching over the years.

And setting up an e-commerce store has never been easier! All you need to do is choose an e-commerce platform, register your domain, and add your products to begin making sales! Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned entrepreneur launching a new business venture, you can literally have your brand-new online store up and running in no time.

However, getting an ecommerce website up and running requires a lot of work, time and energy, and there are a number of hidden costs that you should be aware of when budgeting and creating a feasible financial plan for your business.

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Here are some of the hidden costs that come hand in hand with running an ecommerce business:

Merchant Services 

Merchant services are some of main hidden costs you should be aware of when setting up and running an ecommerce business.

Merchant Services allow your e-commerce site to accept and process payments from customers, using a wide range of payment methods. These services are integral to the running of your day-to-day business operations. There are a whole host of merchant service providers, and the price you will pay depends on a number of different factors including the size of your business and the types of services you require. The vast majority of merchant service providers will ask for flat one-time set up fee and a monthly gateway fee.


Software/Security Updates

Technology is constantly evolving and if you are selling your products in the digital world, it’s important that you remain in tune with the latest software and security updates.

This is not only important for performance, but it is also important that you prioritise keeping your customers’ information private. And, it is your responsibility as a business to invest in new software and updates in order to ensure that you remain fully compliant with all security requirements.


Shipping, Handling & Fulfilment

Once you have invested in your website and people have started to buy from your site, you will then have to consider shipping, handling and fulfilment costs. And, these costs can vary significantly depending on how big your business is.



Marketing is incredibly important in any business, especially when it comes to optimising awareness, boosting sales and inspiring action. For any new business, implementing impactful marketing strategies are incredibly important, especially during the early stages of launching a new ecommerce site. Your marketing activity should be consistent and designed to meet your business needs.

Again, it’s hard to determine how much you will need to spend on marketing as every business is different and requires different levels of support. At the same time, technology is constantly evolving and this can increase costs in itself, especially if it means that you need to invest in new marketing tools.


Product Photography

If you are selling products online, it’s important that your customers can see what they are buying and high impact visuals have been proven to optimise sales. After all, there has been a significant amount of research that has indicated that people respond better to visuals than they do to words.

With this in mind, it certainly pays to invest in high quality product photography that will attract your customers and inspire them to purchase your products! When choosing a photographer, you should check out their portfolio, ask for testimonials and always shop around for the best possible price!

Using a professional photographer is far more effective than taking images yourself which can look unprofessional.

Is it worth it?

As we have discussed setting up an e-commerce store involves various hidden costs and with this in mind, you may be wondering if setting up an e-commerce store would be worth it.

Whether your e-commerce venture is worth it, depends on several different factors including your business model, long-term goals, target market, and the demand of your product offering.

Despite the hidden costs, many e-commerce entrepreneurs and businesses find that with the ability to generate sales around the clock, operate with low overheads, and reach international audiences, setting up an e-commerce store is worth it.

However, as with all business ventures it is important to carefully assess the costs and benefits and build a robust business plan to ensure long-term profitability and success in the e-commerce landscape.


Speak to an e-commerce accountant 

Once you’re set up and selling, it’s important to stay on top of your accounting to enable your business to grow through intelligent financial insights. The best way to do this is by seeking the advice of an experienced, specialist eCommerce accountant who will have the expertise to help.


Next steps

Here at Unicorn Accounting, our team of specialist e-commerce accountants is happy to chat about all of your eCommerce accounting needs. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s talk and maximise the growth of your e-commerce store.


Why choose Unicorn Accounting?

Ensure you keep on top of your finances and tax obligations by outsourcing to an accountant. This means that you don’t need to worry about your end of year accounts, payroll, or bookkeeping requirements.

At Unicorn Accounting we are e-commerce accountants who help make your online business a growing success. We offer e-commerce accounting advice, financial management, bookkeeping, cash flow statement, and tax filing services to support and scale your business.

Our team of accountants and Xero-certified advisors have experience working with both small start-ups and family-run online stores to large-scale, international retail and e-commerce brands.

If you’ve got an online store, we have the best solution for you. Providing you with a financial arm to your business through our sector experience, and skills with innovative technologies. To see how we can help you maximise the scalability of your e-commerce brand all year roundget in touch with Unicorn Accounting today. Or click here to get a free quote.


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