So, you've picked one of the best eCommerce business ideas and decided you're starting an eCommerce business. You've figured out what is an LLC so you know if you're going to be one or not.
Now you need to come up with a business plan.
Though it may seem like a lot of work, drafting a plan is an important step in starting a profitable business.
We've put together a guide to help you draft the best version so you can start off on the right foot.
What Is eCommerce Business Plan?
An eCommerce business plan is a document outlining the structure, operations, and finances of your business. This document will give you a roadmap to follow as you build your business and is very useful when seeking investors.
Typically, your business plan can help you steer your business in the right direction. When you write a business plan, each section of the business plan should be adapted to fit your business model and your target market.
How to Make an eCommerce Business Plan
Writing a business plan for an eCommerce business should be done by conducting thorough research and following an outline. Your plan will likely be ten or more pages, but some sections will require more detailed information than others. Make sure you include as much information as possible that a prospective buyer or investor would be interested in.
7 eCommerce Business Plan Elements
Though there are many types of eCommerce businesses, the best have business plans that are structured similarly. These are the seven major elements that all investors expect to see in a business plan:
1. Executive summary
This opening section is one of the most important and should be written last. It will summarize the following sections and highlight any key ideas you've discovered while writing. Investors often decide whether or not to continue reading based on this section alone, so it needs to be flawless.
The executive summary should not exceed a single page, so you'll need to condense information as much as possible. Try to include your concept, goals, products or service, customer base, marketing plans, and financials. If looking for financing, you'll also need to include how much startup investment you need to get going.
2. Company mission and overview
This section will need to answer two simple questions: who are you and what will your business do? This serves as an introduction to the business, what makes it unique, and why you're worth investing in.
The way your business will be structured, what your values are, what experience you have, and who will be on the team should be included. Are you starting B2B eCommerce or a direct to consumer brands? Are you an expert in the field or is this a totally new venture? Be specific, but promote your strengths as much as possible.
3. Market analysis
Here, you need to outline who your target customers are, what competitors you will have, and how you plan to succeed. This section requires quite a bit of research but will give insight into the ways your business can carve out its place in the industry.
Your market analysis answers the questions: who are your competitors, where to find your target market, and how to price your product or service. It also allows you to see where your competitors are lagging. You can develop your unique selling points with a great market analysis.
Performing a SWOT analysis is a great way to fill out this section. It is a breakdown of your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is most often laid out in a grid with the most relevant information as bullet points for easy understanding. You can see an example in the template shared below.
4. Products and services offered
Your products and services will likely be peppered throughout your business plan, but this section will outline all of them and any key information. If you only offer a few products or services, be as detailed as possible. If you have many offerings, feel free to summarize them by category. This list can also be helpful in the future when cross selling.
Make sure to note where you're sourcing your goods. You may be producing goods, buying in bulk, or participating in dropshipping. Whichever you choose, your plan will need to be specific.
5. Marketing plan
Your plan needs to show how you will position your business and attract customers. Whether you will be using B2B marketing strategy (see what is B2B marketing) or DTC marketing, show what sets you apart from the competition. Include what your products or services are, prices, how you'll promote, and where you'll sell them.
If you'll be using digital marketing, make sure to outline the different channels you plan to use. A little extra detail in this section can show that you have thought through how you'll turn prospective customers into buyers.
Your marketing plan should include the type of eCommerce marketing channels, such as social media, you will adopt. Adding a section about your marketing goals and eCommerce KPIs will help you track marketing campaigns.
6. Operations plan
In this section, you need to outline all aspects of logistics and operations. Investors are very interested in your operations plan, so make sure to be thorough if you're looking for outside financing.
Include information about procurement like who your suppliers will be and how your products are going to be produced. You should also include where your offices and warehouse are, what tools and technology you'll use, and how you'll handle shipping and fulfillment. What software you use for eCommerce accounting, eCommerce credit card processing, and how you'll handle 3PL companies (if you need them) are valuable data points for this section.
Remember, none of these activities would be possible if you don't get an eCommerce business license. You may also want to use a business process flow chart template to identify your business processes.
7. Financial Plan
Finally, it's time to outline how you plan to become a profitable business. Typically, your financial plan section will include an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement.
This section needs to be more detailed if you'll be seeking investors, so write for your audience. A financial projection is expected in that case and can sway investors on the fence. Which one of the best banks for eCommerce business should you open an account with and how will you accept eCommerce payment? Answer these questions before an investor has to ask.
eCommerce Business Plan Template
You can also build out your eCommerce business plan using a free downloadable eCommerce business plan template.
Once you download it, give it a look through. You’ll see an example of an eCommerce food wholesaler's free business plan template for reference.
We've included all seven sections and a few subsections to help you see the amount of detail expected in a business plan. It's mostly filler text, so you can edit the areas that you need and remove the rest. A robust plan can help you land investors, grow your business, and even pick up eCommerce business insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions About eCommerce Business Plan
Writing an eCommerce business plan gives you a solid headstart before launching your business. Let’s answer some popular questions about eCommerce business plans.
How Do I Write an eCommerce Business Plan?
There are various types of eCommerce business plans. However, when writing an eCommerce business plan there are formats you want to follow and sections you should include.
Here are sections to include in an eCommerce business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company Overview and objectives
- Market analysis
- Products and services
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Financial plan
What are the 4 Types of eCommerce Businesses?
There are different types of eCommerce businesses. Here are 4 common types:
- Business to business (B2B)
- Business to customer (B2C)
- Direct to consumer (D2C)
- Business to government (B2G)
How Important Is a Proposal for eCommerce Business?
An eCommerce business plan serves as a proposal document to show investors when seeking funds for your business. A proposal makes it easy for investors to see the market opportunities and profitability of your eCommerce business. When written perfectly, it can influence these investors to pour money into your business.
Stick to the Plan
A solid business plan is a vital element in the foundation of any business. Put enough effort into researching the market and creating a thorough plan. It will give you the structure you need to grow a profitable and sustainable eCommerce business.
If you're looking to start an eCommerce food wholesale business, BlueCart is the best tool for you. It's an all-in-one online marketplace that helps food suppliers make wholesale sales, acquire new customers, and grow their bottom line.
We also recommend checking out some of the best eCommerce books and an eCommerce blog or two to give you insight into some of the new technologies and trends you can use to grow. You should also find out what SEO terms to include on your site so you can attract customers more easily. There are a lot of benefits of eCommerce SEO that can help take your business to the next level.