How to Plan And Create a Winning Ecommerce Business Plan For Newbies

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Embarking on a new business requires a plan. For an eCommerce startup seeking investors or partners, this is essential to lay out your intentions. Working through this ensures you have a complete understanding of the viability of the business and any potential obstacles. After all, stumbling blindly into a new venture has rarely generated success. 

To get started, let’s look at the various elements of a winning eCommerce business plan. This will pave the way to attract investors and should provide solid foundations for the future of your online store. 

What is included in an eCommerce business plan?

A basic business plan can be achieved with a piece of paper and a pencil and be generated from vague ideas about costs and how to achieve goals. 

A fit-for-purpose eCommerce business plan, however, contains a strategy for how the intended business will be run. At its core, it incorporates:

  • A business overview
  • Market research
  • Products and services
  • A marketing strategy
  • Operations strategy
  • Financial strategy

The business plan should document the journey to planned prosperity with clear goals.  

The plan for a business that has a fixed location will differ from an eCommerce business plan. For example, the latter must factor in a vast amount of search engine research to ensure visibility online. 

eCommerce business plan questions

Number one on the agenda is to paint a picture of the business as a whole. This can be achieved by asking pertinent questions like:

  • Partners. Who are the key players?
  • Activities. What must your business do to be successful?
  • Resources. Which can you use to your advantage?
  • USP. What is it?
  • Marketing. How will people know about your business?
  • Customers. Do you have different customer demographics?
  • Money. How much will you need to sell to make a profit? 

Start off by answering these questions to form a basic outline of your business goals.

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Next up, let’s look at the resources your business needs to thrive. 

Three types of resources 

The categories for potential resources are financial, physical, and human. You’ll need to work out the resources required to get your idea off the ground before you can put your plan into action.  

Financial resources can be in the form of investors, partners, or a business loan. They’re anything monetary that you’ll need to progress your business goals.  

Physical resources include essentials like computers, phones, shipping supplies, and a printer. It makes sense for startups to negotiate as many fixed physical resources as possible to make budgeting simpler in the beginning.  

For example, you might consider a VoIP phone system for small business purposes. Offering complete flexibility, this can be accessed from anywhere and isn’t paid for all at once. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee, making your outlay lower during the costings stage of your plan. 

VoIP headsets can be a good investment too. These allow businesses to work from anywhere when paired with a VoIP phone system. They add a touch of professionalism, with the bonus of no up-front costs for heavy-duty equipment. They mean you don’t have to pay for a dedicated workspace for your staff.  

Human resources are the actual people on your business team, be it employees, partners, or subcontractors. This category may extend to PR personnel, copywriters, and your marketing team as well.  

Your website

Without further ado, let’s move on to your website. A successful eCommerce business hinges on the quality of its website design. After all, an online company is only profitable if sales are made via its site. 

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask questions like:

  • What are my customers looking for?
  • Do my products provide solutions for my customers?
  • When do my customers buy these types of products?
  • How often do my customers purchase these types of products?

Successful eCommerce websites deliver the answers to these questions and more. To provide the solutions, however, you first have to know the questions that are being asked. 

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Market research

A vital part of your business plan is thorough market research. There must be a reason for your product or service to exist on the World Wide Web. Things to consider are the size of the market, where your business will be positioned within it, and the existing competition.   

Market research and analysis come back to your customers. Research as much as possible about the people that fall into your target demographic. For example, how many of them have the potential to buy your product? 

Research data can come from a wealth of sources, including news, academia, and government statistics. Competitor price monitoring can also be a good source of information on what’s currently doing well or not in your market.

Be sure to get friendly with Google. The People Also Ask section is based on real questions from real customers. Delve into them, and you’ll find yourself armed with a treasure trove of valid questions and concerns that your product can solve.

In the market research phase, it’s useful to plan visitor journey maps for your eCommerce website. These ensure potential customers who arrive on your site will know where to go to find their solution. 

An eCommerce website should be super simple to navigate, with custom call-to-action buttons or a dynamic QR code encouraging purchases. If a customer doesn’t know where to go, they’ll likely bounce and never return. 

Later, upselling and cross-selling techniques can be introduced to bump up the value of each customer’s order. These will become more tailored over time when it becomes clear if customers buy additional products based on their cart contents. 

Essential tech

The right tech can make your eCommerce store run like a dream, not a nightmare. Consider what you’ll need to support and enhance your online business. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Website hosting services
  • Payment processing
  • Fulfillment requirements
  • Accounting and invoicing software
  • Marketing channels 
  • Shopping cart platforms

Explore your business requirements to see where tech is best placed to make you efficient and cut costs where possible. 

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One piece of software that saves time and money is accounts payable automation technology. This clever tech reduces costs by saving on human resources and removing the risk of human error that occurs with manual invoice processing. 

eCommerce business plan goals 

A solid business plan is crucial to successfully sell products online, culminating in an efficient and profitable digital concern. 

During the course of business plan creation, you will learn essential skills that will likely enhance your experience and knowledge further down the line too. 

Are you inspired to start your eCommerce business plan? Then go forth and create! 

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.

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