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How to make an e-commerce business plan
Are you planning on opening your online shop or you have opened one recently? Of course, you’ve already decided which products to sell, you’ve already set up the site, and maybe even organized some logistical aspects like warehouse management, inventory, and everything having to do with shipping your products. But you may still need the most important thing: your e-commerce’s business plan.
illustration of Nicola Giorgio
The business plan is a key step to get a clear, complete overview of all areas of your business, from your internal organization, to marketing plans, budget distribution and tips on shipping online.
Even if every detail of your project has been carefully planned, it’s anything but automatic that customers will find your site, buy from you, your accounts will square and revenue will come in. Even if shopping is moving online more than ever, for a successful business, you have to know what to do, where to invest, what to focus on and what to watch out for.
That’s why it’s essential to create your business plan in the right way. To help you do so, we have made up a complete guide for you on how to create a business plan for e-commerce.
What is a business plan?
The business plan summarizes all aspects, services and characteristics of your company. It describes how it is organized, how it makes money, what it spends, how the staff is managed, and where it plans to focus investments, areas where special care needs to be taken, and other details we’ll look at below. . Put simply, the business plan captures the essence of your business.
Why you can’t go without a business plan
There are several reasons why your company cannot go without a business plan:
- first of all, as we said, it gives you an overview of your business. Especially during startup, preparing it will help you understand financial, marketing and communication aspects, human resource management, and much more. This makes it a fundamental planning tool.
- The business plan is the prospectus you will have to show when you meet credit institutions and investors.
- It also makes a great calling card, to use as a company presentation to build relationships with partners, and it’s an effective way to share positioning and business strategies with your staff.
That’s why, if you haven’t made your business plan yet, now is time to get started! Now let’s look, point by point, at the contents you have to have in your business plan.
What are the contents of an e-commerce business plan?
The business plan should be detailed and well-organized for it to be effective. The information should be written clearly and completely, without excessive content though giving all the needed info. Let’s look together at some of the sections you could use to organize your online shop business plan.
We recommend starting with an executive summary of what the business plan will describe in more detail. Give a quick description of what your company does, what it sells and to whom, and the salient features to know about it. You might want to write this introduction last when your ideas will be their clearest!
Team and organization of human resources
Every company is made up of people — who are your people? What are your roles? What are your areas of expertise and how do you put them to good use?
Products or services
Now is the time to get further into detail and talk about what you sell. What are the main features of your products and how do they differ from what competitors offer? Don’t forget to say what the advantages are for those who buy from your e-commerce shop in terms of your products, using your interface or taking advantage of your extra services.
Who are your customers? What are the unmet needs of this particular market, and how can your products meet them? Why did you choose this target market? What are its segments? What is the target you are aiming for specifically? Don’t forget to give data and market analysis to support this part of the business plan. They’ll strengthen the entire plan.
In this part of the plan, you should describe the details that connect you to your suppliers to show that your company can get supplies from secure sources. Where do you get your products or how do you make them? To make sure your suppliers are reliable, what kind of contract do you have with them?
Who are your competitors and how do you differ from them? In what are they stronger and where are you strongest? Focus a section of your business plan on your competitors: knowing them is essential for structured benchmarking, to outline your market potential and how you can stand out on the market.
Describe how you intend to sell your products. What criteria did you use to set your prices? What other channels have you chosen, if any? What is your sales network? What costs will you incur for marketing, and what agreements have you made, if any? What sales budget do you expect?
Marketing and communication plan
In addition to a sales plan, you should also explain the marketing strategies you plan to adopt, what sales levers you want to use and which communication and advertising channels you want to cover. Don’t just make a list, explain why you want to make certain choices.
Of course, an e-commerce business needs a highly detailed logistics plan to describe how you will organize your goods, if you plan to manage a warehouse, how you process orders, which carriers you use for shipping, and which physical and digital tools you use to make the entire process run smoothly.
Your financial plan should list in detail the costs related to budgets, expenses and investments, preferably using tables, including:
- sales plan
- production costs
- fixed costs
- personnel costs
- cash flow
- balance sheet
- profit and loss account
- financial statement ratios
Finally, list your partners, if you have them, including companies, agencies or businesses that are part of your ecosystem that strengthen your brand and your sales and communication strategy.
Don’t forget to attach anything that can support the data you have given in the business plan, including your team’s resumes, product sheets, additional market analysis, newspaper articles, accounting materials, and so forth.
An example business plan
The structure we have looked at is just one possible way to set your business plan. Some other information may be useful to include, depending on the specifics of your business project.
One of the smartest steps you can take to decide how to organize your business plan is to take inspiration from those who have done it before. Here are four examples of business plans that are well-organized both in content and visually.
Template to create your own business plan
Of course, looks count too. That’s why it matters what template you choose to lay out and visually create your business plan. We suggest choosing a style and colors that fit the visual identity you have chosen for your brand.
To make it easier, here are some templates ready to download or to use for inspiration.
Useful information and tips to grow your e-commerce business
Does making a business plan seem easier said than done? If you still have to take your first steps, you might well feel that way. But we want to reassure you. If you follow all the steps and carefully consider the details and features of your business, you’ll manage to make a complete, effective plan.
For your business to become more and more solid, it is important to lay the right foundations and choose the best partners to grow your e-commerce business together.
This is what the isendu community is here for. We make the process easier, as a complete tool for those who want to get the most in terms of both sales and customer satisfaction. We give you the technology, know-how, resources and training to help you throughout the process of managing your online shop.
At isendu you’ll find a user-friendly interface to coordinate the management of orders and shipping, erasing the danger of making mistakes.
Isendu’s technological ecosystem focuses on the people who work. Your business plan will end up showing the thing we already know: that behind the numbers, strategies and financial plans, it’s always about people.