Netcomm Forum 2024

TCO - Total cost of ownership

TCO - Total cost of ownership

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a financial metric that businesses use to evaluate the overall cost of a product or service over its entire lifecycle. In ecommerce, you can evaluate the cost of running an online store, including setup, maintenance, and scaling over time, using TCO.

Table of contents

  1. The advantages of a TCO analysis

    1. Understanding TCO in ecommerce: factors and implications

  2. TCO for ecommerce platforms 

  3. Conclusion

The advantages of a TCO analysis

One of the main benefits of using TCO in ecommerce is that it allows you to make informed decisions about your technology choices. For example, a business might choose to use a cloud-based ecommerce platform instead of a self-hosted one if the TCO of the cloud-based platform is lower over time.

Understanding TCO in ecommerce: factors and implications

Several different factors contribute to the TCO of an ecommerce operation. These include

  • Hardware and software costs: These are associated with buying or renting servers, paying for software licenses, and maintaining and updating the technology.

  • Staffing costs: These cover hiring and training people to manage and operate the ecommerce operation.

  • Third-party costs: This includes using third-party services, such as payment processors and shipping providers.

  • Marketing and customer acquisition costs: This can involve the cost of advertising and promotions, as well as the cost of acquiring new customers.

  • Transaction costs: This reflects the cost of processing transactions and handling customer service and returns.

The key point is that TCO isn't just about upfront costs. It also includes your ongoing expenses, such as technical maintenance, security, and upgrades, as well as the cost of scaling the business as it grows. By considering all of these costs, you can confidently approach your ecommerce decisions and ensure that you are operating as economically and cost-effectively as possible.

TCO for ecommerce platforms

Regarding ecommerce platforms, Shopware is the perfect choice for your online business. The fully customizable open source platform gives ecommerce businesses exactly the freedom they need to create a unique customer experience. Our system is based on 20 years of experience and offers as much flexibility as possible on the operator side. Its modular, service-oriented architecture and focus on extensibility and automation ensure a unique customer experience that delivers outstanding performance.

In total, Shopware offers you over 5000 extensions that can help reduce the total cost of ownership of your business by eliminating the need to develop custom features.

Beyond platform costs, consider the cost of integrating your ecommerce operation with other business systems like accounting and inventory. This can be a significant factor in the overall TCO of your ecommerce operation.


In short, TCO is an important metric for businesses to consider when evaluating the cost of their ecommerce operations. By taking into account all of the different costs associated with running an online store, businesses can make more informed decisions about their technology choices and ensure that they are operating as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. One of the options to evaluate is Shopware, which is an open-source, customizable and flexible platform that can help to reduce the TCO by providing a large community of developers and users, and built-in tools for marketing, analytics, and customer management.


  • "Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Definition", Investopedia