Every business should be operating under a solid business plan. Ecommerce businesses can take a variety of formats, so it's important to clearly identify what you're selling, to whom you're selling, and how you're selling it. Without this information, your marketing efforts will be scattered and ineffective, and your venture won't be as successful as it could be.
How to Create an eCommerce Business Plan
Define what you're selling. You could be selling ebooks or other information products, collectibles, videos, services, or just about anything over the Internet. Clearly defining what you're selling will help you create written information that your website visitors will understand.
Create a mission statement. What is the purpose behind your business? Every business should be able to identify what problem its products are solving. For example, even if you're selling videos over the Internet, you're providing entertainment to your customers without the inconvenience of going to the store.
Analyze your competition. Identify your primary competitors, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. You can do this using a S.W.O.T. analysis, which means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Since you're creating an ecommerce business plan, your competitiors will also be located on the Internet. Researching your competition should be as easy as conducting a Google search.
Outline your unique selling proposition and how you will meet the needs of your customers. This area of your business plan should include information such as how you will accept payments and what policies you will put in place for returns, exchanges, and general customer service. Think of common potential problems and describe how you will handle each situation.
Introduce yourself and your staff. Include your qualifications and the qualifications of your business partners or staff that you've hired. Describe prior experience that will indicate that you have the knowledge to make this venture a success. Clearly define the role each person will hold within your organization.
Create a budget and describe where you will obtain start-up funds. You will have expenses that are required to get your business up and running, and your business plan should include your plan for covering those expenses. You will have to purchase a domain name and hosting account, and unless you plan to design the site yourself, you'll have to hire a web designer and programmer.
Describe how you plan to obtain customers. You could include a complete marketing plan in this section, or a general overview of how you plan to market your ecommerce business. If your marketing plans have costs, be sure you include those anticipated costs in your operating budget.
Your business plan should be flexible. You may encounter situations that require you to veer from your carefully laid plans in order to be successful. While you should try to follow your plans, you should also be prepared to make necessary adjustments.
If you are using your business plan to obtain financing, be sure that your budget, marketing plan, and any financial information is as detailed as possible. Banks want to be certain that you will be able to turn a profit before they will lend you money.