How to Make an Ecommerce Business Plan for Your Startup

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Darren DeMatas

February 28, 2024

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So you’ve decided that you want to quit your day job and start your very own ecommerce empire. That’s great!

But before you become the next Jeff Bezos  (and definitely before you quit your job!), it’s worth spending some time thinking about a business plan. In this article, we’ll dive into the key elements of an ecommerce business plan, which is very different than writing traditional business plans.

Ecommerce Business Plan 2020

Why You Should Create a Business Plan

We know that starting an ecommerce business is exciting, and it can be tempting to jump right in without constructing a business plan. READ: PLEASE DON’T DO THIS.

If you haven’t put your ideas, questions and concerns on paper, then you haven’t given your business model enough thought .

Taking the time to write a business plan might seem like a lot of work, but it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run by better preparing you for potential challenges and opportunities that you’ll face as a first-time entrepreneur. Think of it as a roadmap for your new business venture.

It’s exciting to start your own ecommerce business. However, you want to be well prepared and not jump into anything without having a solid, foolproof ecommerce business plan in place.

After all, you wouldn’t jump out of a plane without a parachute, so why start a business without a safety device in place? That safety device is your business plan.

Quote 5 Jeff Bezos Retail Is Details

The business plan is the brainstorming process that ensures your concept and goals are realistic.

This is more than just mental notes. True business plans take your ideas , questions, and concerns and put those in writing.

As you start creating your business plan, you’ll soon understand that it’s more than a single piece of paper with handwritten details on it. It’s a clearly constructed format of how your business will be created, how it will operate, and what you hope the future holds in terms of a successful ecommerce business.

When you write your business plan, be sure to have a target audience in mind. Are you going to look for investors or put a Kickstarter campaign into motion and use this as your descriptive platform? If so, make sure that your business plan contains everything the audience would want to know about your business (and more!). Many traditional funding solutions require a business plan in order to give you capital. However, there are alternative solutions, such as  Payability  that specialize in ecommerce and don’t require credit checks, a business plan, or any complicated paperwork. They can also get you approved in as little as 24 hours.

When your business plan is completed, you should have achieved the following goals:

  • Knowledge:  A greater sense of knowledge of the business aspects.
  • Resources:  The resources you’re going to need to make your business successful, such as partners, money, employees, etc.
  • Road Map: Have clear set goals to take you from the very beginning of your business and onward.
  • Viability: In other words, is your business possible? Will you have enough profit margins to keep the doors open long-term?

Now that you know why you should create a business plan, it’s time to move on to how you can create your business plan and get started putting your ecommerce business into motion.

How to Start an Ecommerce Business Plan

At the very beginning of the planning stages, it’s a good idea to develop a framework for your business model. This business model will continue to evolve as you create each section of your ecommerce business plan, so don’t strive for a perfect completed plan on the first try. You will be making tweaks to the plan of certain steps along the way.

There are many ways to sell products online and different business models  to pursue. Research and learn from successful ecommerce business examples in the market. The exact business model you follow will be one that makes the most sense with your resources, skills, and interests.

In order to create the best online business plan with your product in mind, you need to figure out the following things:

What are you selling?

The first step to creating an online business is to learn the absolute basics of what you can sell.

  • Physical products: Clothing , shoes, home goods
  • Digital products: Software as a Service products, ecourses, ebooks
  • Services: Consulting services, home cleaning

Who are you selling to?

  • Business-to-Business (B2B): You are selling to organizations, corporations, and non-profits rather than individual customers
  • Business to Consumer (B2C): This means you are selling to individual consumers rather than businesses
  • Marketplace: You are acting as a middleman by bringing businesses and (B2B or B2C) customers to one website.

How are you sourcing your product?

  • Manufacture in-house: You make your product or service in-house
  • Third-party manufacturer: You outsource the manufacturing of your product or service to a third-party manufacturer
  • Dropship: You partner with a dropship manufacturer. Basically, this means that they make your product, package it and ship it directly to your customer while your company handles the entire customer relationship.
  • Wholesale : You buy goods or services from other companies in bulk and re-sell those products on your online store

Additional References

  • Entrepreneurship: Business & Marketing Plans
  • Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship Resources
  • Business Plan Resources

Executive Summary

Ecommerce Business Plan Template Executive Summary

The executive summary will be written according to your goals, and it’s recommended that this is done at the very end of your business plan completion. This will ensure that you include all of the important factors about your business and present your ideas in a concise and complete way.

Some of the features you’ll include in the executive summary include information showing that you’ve done your research, you have concrete sales forecasts, and the main details about your brand.

Business Model

When you’re figuring out your business model, you have to consider four different areas:

  • Monetization strategy
  • Product/industry
  • Target market
  • Sales channel

Monetization Strategy

The monetization strategy delves into the methods you are going to use to sell your products.

This strategy will look at different product monetization methods, including white label, private label , affiliate marketing, wholesale, dropshipping, and even selling ads.

Product/Industry

The product industry section is where you summarize your main niche.

For example, “Vegan Skincare Products.”

Target Market

In the target market section, you will write a sentence or so on who your target market, or ideal customer, is in the community.

If you’re selling vegan skincare products, your target customers might be women who embrace the vegan lifestyle and use natural skincare products in their daily beauty regimen.

Sales Channel

The sales channel refers to where you’re going to sell your products.

For example, you might be selling your products on your own website, and this should be entered in this section.

Business Overview

Ecommerce Business Plan Template Company Overview

This next section covers your company overview.

This section of your business plan will cover various features of your company, including the following:

  • Company type
  • Domain name
  • Value proposition
  • Brand traits

The brand name section lists your business name or brand name.

This is an extremely important aspect of your business plan as it’s what will set the tone for everything that follows.

Pick a brand name that’s simple yet unique and is something that can be used in a wordplay manner, if desired, but not pun-worthy.

Company Type

The company is how your business operates. For example, you might label your business as an LLC , S-corporation, sole proprietor, or some other type of business organization.

The best way to determine how you should categorize your company is to speak to your accountant. There are various tax and legal aspects to forming your business in a certain way.

Speak with the professionals in the company and corporation formation field to determine how to label your company and which company type best benefits your business in a variety of ways.

Domain Name

This section is where you list your domain name.

Choose a domain name that is memorable and embraces the overall traits and features of your business.

And, when choosing a domain name, be sure to think of SEO aspects when doing so. You’ll find out just how much all of these things tie together and ensure a frequently-visited website is the end result.

Keep in mind that with ecommerce, the domain name is just as important as the brand name. Maybe even more so!

Value Proposition

A value proposition is a short, crisp statement that will gauge how clear your idea is. Write this section as if you had one minute to explain your business to a potential investor or customer and then practice it over and over again.

The value proposition can be used on your ecommerce store as your company description.

Here’s a good example: Say you’re looking to start a hiking company called Atlas Hiking Co. which sells premium performance hiking shirts. A possible company description could be the following:

Atlas Hiking Co. is a lifestyle hiking company that produces high-performance hiking shirts for outdoor lovers. Our proprietary SPF40 fabric is one of the lightest fabrics on the market, providing mountain lovers with maximum comfort, both from a breathability and sun-protection standpoint. Our product is made in the U.S.A. and a portion of our profits are donated to preserve national parks around the country.

Pay special attention to all the sensory words !

The mission statement in your business plan is the “why” of it all.

For example, why you started the business, why you are selling the products you are selling, etc., can all be added to this section of your business plan.

You can make this portion as simple or detailed as you like. Just make sure to properly and clearly explain your business mission.

The vision part of the business plan is your “how” in the grand scheme of things. It is the dream you have for your company and the path you’re going to take to realize that dream.

When you write the vision portion of the business plan, think long-term. What are you hoping to achieve, not just in the near future but for the long haul of the life of your business?

Look into the future and plan out where you see your business in 5, 10, even 20 years from now.

This will help you construct the rest of your business plan if you know where you want your business to head, now and in the future.

Brand Traits

The brand traits section is a short section in your company overview.

Basically, in the brand traits section you’re going to want to list three to five words that describe your brand.

Think of your brand personality and describe it using a few separate powerful words.

The personnel section lists all individuals, including yourself, who will be involved in the daily operations of your business. You can create a separate section for a full operations plan or add that later.

Some business owners choose to handle all duties on their own or with a partner, while others will hire individuals to fill the following roles:

  • CEO (usually the business owner)
  • Management team
  • Customer service/logistics
  • PR/Social media specialist
  • SEO manager
  • Advertising manager

Competitive Market Analysis

Competitive Market Analysis

Here’s a fact you can bank on: there has never been a successful e-commerce entrepreneur that didn’t understand his/her target market cold.

That’s why this section is one of the most important in the entire business plan. It will force you to understand the industry in which you operate, the overall industry analysis and outlook, the existing competition, and your target customer demographic.

Market Segment

The market segment portion of the business plan will help you to put your ideas down on paper, make them more focused, and get your team together.

This area will include your niche selection, target market, and competitive analysis.

Niche Selection

The niche section  provides an overview of your niche, why you selected it, whether there’s a micro niche included, and the type of niche you’ve chosen.

The purpose of this section is to crystalize the ideas that you have and make sure they are understandable and viable.

The target market section covers an overview of your target market plus describes your market segments.

Ask yourself who your  target customer  is (population size, age, geography, education, ethnicity, income level) and consider whether consumers are comfortable with buying your product category online.

When listing the target market information, make sure to mention your target audience size as this is important for ensuring that your audience will be adequately covered.

Facebook Audience Size

Competitive Analysis

With the competitive analysis portion of your market analysis, you want to list your market leader and direct and indirect competitors.

After you mention who these entities are, you need to list the characteristics of each one, such as domain name, business model, monthly traffic, and pricing range.

However, before you even get started in writing this section, you need to spend several hours researching your target market.

Here are some of the most efficient ways to research a particular market:

Industry reports

Google is your best friend. Look for any recent industry reports on your market of choice. This will give you a good sense of how much growth the industry is experiencing, why this growth is happening, and what are the largest customer segments. In our example of Atlas Hiking Co., we should research the outdoor apparel market.

Outdoor apparel kids hiking hiking gear Google search Trends worldwide 2004-present

Let’s say that through our research of the outdoor apparel industry, we discovered that there was a huge boom in youth hiking apparel. Perhaps parents were increasingly concerned about their kids’ exposure to UV rays while hiking, so they began to spend more money on their kids. We could use this valuable information to guide our business strategy.

There’s only so much you can read online. Go to a nearby store that sells similar products to yours and interview the store representative. The store rep has interacted with hundreds of interested customers, which can lead to thousands of valuable insights! It’s amazing how these insights can translate into a meaningful business opportunity.

Here’s an example:

If I were going into Billy’s Outdoor Store to research the outdoor apparel market, I would probably ask Billy the following:

  • What are your best-selling products?
  • What are your worst-selling products?
  • Find products similar to yours and ask the representative his/her favorite features on products similar to yours.
  • How much are customers generally willing to spend on these types of products?
  • Do customers make repeat orders of any of these products?
  • Do you get a lot of customers that are looking to buy last-minute hiking gear before they go on a hike?

Competition

Create an Excel spreadsheet of all of your competitors. In your spreadsheet, you should have the following columns:

  • Competitor Name
  • Price point
  • Product Description
  • Key Features (e.g., fabric, waterproof, slim fit, etc.)

What is the competition missing? Is there a gap in the offering? Where you can add some additional value?

After conducting the competitor analysis, Atlas Hiking Co. might find that the competition’s hiking shirts offer very few features at a low price point, but no one offers a luxury hiking shirt with additional features at a higher price point.

This is just an example of the types of insights one can gain from market research which can drastically alter your business model.

Keyword Research

By using Google’s keyword planner  and trends pages, you can get a good sense of how in demand your product is and whether it’s trending upward or downward. Google is great for a general idea, just don’t bank on it.

Some other keyword tools you can use for keyword research include Ahrefs, JungleScout, and Viral Launch. Check out this list  for more ideas.

Trade shows

Are there nearby trade shows that you can go to? Again, creating connections with other people in your industry is a surefire shortcut to countless hours of reading on the internet. Trade shows are also a great opportunity to talk to competitors, meet manufacturers, and better understand where things are heading in your industry.

Once you finish researching the relevant industry, you should summarize your findings by answering the following questions:

General Industry

  • How big is the overall industry?
  • How big is the specific sub-industry in which you intend to operate?
  • Where has most of the historic growth in the market come from?
  • Why is this the right time to enter this market?
  • What are the sub-segments that are poised for future growth (e.g., youth apparel)?
  • How crowded is the product category with competition?
  • How is your competition distributing its product (online, retail, wholesale, etc.)?
  • What’s missing from the competition’s product offering?

Products and Offers

Ecommerce Business Plan Template Products and Offers

So we know we want to sell hiking shirts, but how do you research specific products?

But for some of us, we’re not quite sure what we should sell. To succeed in online retail, you need a product that is trending upwards in a growing niche.

Different types of products

Some of the different types of products include the following:

  • Convenience products: Frequent purchase products, little effort on buying
  • Shopping products: Less frequently purchased in between purchases, little more effort and planning, shop around
  • Specialty products: Strong brand preference and loyalty, will buy no matter what the price

The various types of niches include the following:

  • Hobby niches
  • Lifestyle niches
  • Problem niches
  • Weird/embarrassing niches

Existing products

Come up with detailed specifications for each product or service you intend to sell. If it’s a hiking shirt we’re selling, we would want to have:

  • Detailed sketches of the shirt
  • Fabric weight, materials, type
  • Key features (e.g., pre-shrunk, water-proof, SPF 40)

Future product pipeline

What are other products that you have in the pipeline? Perhaps once you’ve successfully sold hiking shirts, you’re able to leverage your manufacturing relationships to provide hiking socks and shorts. Include that information in this section.

The products and services section will cover the various selling categories of items.

These product offerings will include the following:

  • Core product

Each product group will have its own purpose in your sales catalog. For example, tripwire is the product that brings customers to your ecommerce store or online marketplaces  while the core product is your main seller.

Knowing what products you’ll include within each section allows you to have a firm grasp on what your main product will be and how the other types of products will work alongside your main product.

This section will also cover the search volume and Amazon pricing range.

You’ll need to calculate your true costs. You have to make sure you don’t overestimate your margins.

To tabulate your total true costs, you need to write down the costs in the following areas:

  • Target price
  • Supplier cost of the product
  • Total cost per unit
  • Net profit per unit
  • Profit margin per unit

Once you complete the pricing portion, you’ll have everything on one sheet and readily accessible whenever you need it.

Marketing Plan and Operations

Ecommerce Business Plan Template Marketing

So, now you’ve concluded that you have a great business idea, and it’s in a growing market. That’s fantastic – but how are you going to drive traffic to your ecommerce website and get customers to buy it ? And how much can you afford to spend on your product?

Marketing  is everything. It’s important that your marketing efforts match your business model.

If you have a website and no marketing, your site won’t have any visitors. With no visitors, you will make no sales. Then how do you grow and sell your ecommerce business (if that’s your long-term goal)? Even with the best possible products, nobody will buy them if they aren’t directed to them in some way.

In order to come up with a marketing strategy, you need to first know your customer inside out. You should be able to answer such questions as:

  • How old is your customer?
  • Where does your customer live?
  • What is the population of your customer base?
  • What is their education level?
  • What is their income level?
  • What are your customer’s pain points?

With so many channels to reach your customer, which one is best for you?

Once we know pretty much everything there is to know about our target customer, we can shift focus to our marketing strategy. You want to choose marketing strategies that equal positive conversion rates. What channels should you use to grab the attention of your customer demographic? Some of the key marketing channels include:

Paid Marketing

  • Pay-per-click – this online marketing typically involves using Google Shopping campaigns  and managing a product data feed.
  • Affiliate sales networks – Allowing other blogs and websites to sell your product for a cut of the revenue. List the different affiliate sale networks that you plan to promote through.
  • Facebook ads ⎯ Ads posted on Facebook to draw in buyers through social media means.
  • Influencer marketing ⎯ Hiring industry influencers to get the word out about your product through their social media platforms and contacts.

Organic Marketing

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram , Pinterest, etc.): What is your strategy for social media, and where will you dedicate your attention?
  • Search Engine Optimization : Create and promote awesome content so people find your product organically through search.
  • Content marketing: Figure out how you’ll use content marketing in your business. Consider various article topics that will persuade your target audience to buy your products.
  • Blogger networks: could be organic or paid through affiliate sale programs.
  • Key bloggers: Develop a list of the key bloggers in your product category. For Atlas Hiking Co., this might be an influencer that blogs about the best hiking trails in America.

Finding the optimal mix of these advertising tools depends 100% on your customer segment as well as your product type. For example, a SaaS product targeting millennials will require an entirely different marketing strategy than an e-commerce physical product targeting baby boomers. Perhaps that should be a post on its own for another day!

How much should you spend to acquire a customer?

In order to understand this, we need first to discuss a concept known as customer lifetime value or LTV. In essence, this is a formula that helps you better understand how much an average customer will spend over time.

Here’s  a good read on how to calculate LTV.

It’s important to remember that for new businesses, you don’t have a lot of data on customer purchase habits so it’s a good idea to be more conservative with your assumptions in calculating LTV.

Let’s say, for Atlas Hiking Co., I determine that the average LTV per customer is $300. This means that over time, the average customer will spend $300. Let’s say, on average, if I receive $300 in revenue, $100 of that will translate to gross profit before I factor in my marketing costs (basically, I’m just subtracting the cost of making the shirts).

Knowing that my gross profit is $100 per shirt is a critical piece of information because it tells me that I can spend up to $100 in marketing to acquire a customer and still be profitable!

Some of the marketing options include social media marketing and content marketing.

Think about your business model and then line up your marketing budget. Your marketing budget may include the following items:

  • Sales/branded content
  • SEO/blog content
  • Facebook/Instagram ads
  • Influencer marketing
  • Marketing tools
  • Niche advertising

Choosing The Right Technology

With so much technology and SaaS products out there, it’s important to understand the various moving parts and diagram how they all integrate with one another.

Some of the different elements include:

  • Shopping Cart Platforms  – e.g., Shopify , BigCommerce , WooCommerce , or any open-source platform
  • Hosting – Nexcess , BigScoots , Kinsta , WPX
  • Payment Processo r – e.g., Stripe, Paypal
  • Fulfillment Center – e.g., Amazon, ShipBob
  • Apps – e.g., Zipify, BuildWooFunnels, Gelato
  • Accounting & Taxes  – e.g., Quicken, Xero
  • Marketing Automation – e.g., Klaviyo , Mailchimp
  • Marketing Tools – e.g.  Buzzstream, Ahrefs
  • Customer Loyalty Programs  – e.g., Antavo, Smile

Come up with a detailed list of the different products and services you need to run your business as well as the monthly and per-transaction cost of each of them. This will be important in understanding the impact of these services on your margins.

Matching your business model to your technology is essential, too. Certain website platforms are better suited for specific sales models.

Email marketing is another type of technology that should be carefully considered and matched up correctly with your business model.

Keep in mind that it takes, on average, 6-7 interactions with a brand before someone makes a purchase, so you need to keep using technology to get them back to your website.

As you explore the technology options and find out ways to draw potential customers in and keep them happy while they’re there, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • What you say about yourself and your products with your website content
  • How you respond to questions on live chat and email support
  • How to make use of chatbots
  • How you connect on social media
  • The information you send through email marketing
  • What bloggers and influencers say about your brand
  • How existing customers review your company
  • How you advertise
  • How you establish loyalty beyond sales

After you figure out your technology methods, you have to come up with a technology budget.

The business plan must also include the operations side of things. Determine who will be your manufacturer, secondary manufacturer, and shipping and fulfillment  provider.

When looking at supply chain costs and options, ShipBob  is an ecommerce fulfillment provider you can consider.

Financial Plan

Ecommerce Business Plan Template - Financial Plan

When figuring out your financial plan, evaluating and pinpointing your startup costs  is essential.

The focus of the financial plan is how long it will take for you to make your money back. You also need to figure out if you need a business loan .

Traffic and conversion rates will help you determine how long it will be until you start making money back.

You’ll also want to use an income statement to detail financial information.

This section is used for financial projections, such as forecasting sales, expenses, and net income of the business. Ideally, you’ll want to create a monthly Excel balance sheet showing the following:

  • Projected revenue:  First, come up with your projected number of units sold and then come up with your projected revenue (Projected Revenue = # of Units Sold * Average Sales Price).
  • Fixed expenses:   these are expenses that are fixed no matter how much you sell. Typically, these relate to monthly SaaS subscriptions, employee salaries, or rent.
  • Variable expenses  – these expenses change in direct proportion to how much you sell. Common examples include the cost of goods sold and credit card payment processing fees.

This helps business owners better understand what they need to achieve to hit their profit goals. In reality, projections are usually always off the mark, but it’s good to give yourself some measurable goals to strive for.

This section should aim to answer the following questions about your product offering:

  • How much product do you need to sell per year to meet your income goals for the business?
  • What are the margins on your product? If you sell one hiking shirt for $50, how much do you make after paying your supplier, employees, and marketing costs?
  • What is the lifetime value of a customer?
  • How much can you spend to acquire customers? If you conservatively project that the average customer will spend $300 over time on your shirts, then you can afford to spend an amount less than $300 to acquire that customer using the paid marketing channels described previously.
  • Do you have any big capital expenditures early on that would require you to need to bring in investors?
  • Can you improve gross margins by making bigger orders from your suppliers?

There are various acquisition channels that will help your traffic to convert including:

Your revenue plan will contain a 12-month revenue forecast plan to help you map out each month of earnings.

There are different business earning models you can go through to determine how much you can make with your business.

You want to calculate how much traffic costs. This all depends on the methods you use to gain traffic to your site.

As you determine what your profit might be with your ecommerce business  or ecommerce businesses, there are certain math formulas to use:

  • The profit equation
  • Break-even analysis
  • Units needed to achieve the profit target

You should also consider how you will use fintech companies in your ecommerce business.

What are the key elements of an ecommerce business plan?

The main components of an eCommerce business plan include the executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, product line or service, marketing and sales strategy, financial projections, and funding request, if applicable.

How do I create a budget for my ecommerce business?

Start by estimating your initial startup costs and ongoing expenses. Consider costs like website development, inventory, marketing, shipping, taxes, and any necessary licenses or permits. It’s also important to factor in a contingency plan for unexpected costs.

How do I find the right product to sell?

Research is fundamental. Look at market trends, customer needs, and competitor products. Use tools like Google Trends or social media platforms to understand what customers are currently interested in. Always consider your passion and knowledge about the product too, as this can drive your business forward.

How can I differentiate my product from competitors?

Differentiation can come from unique product features, superior customer service, better pricing, or a compelling brand story. Understand what your competitors offer and how you can do it differently or better.

Wrapping Up Your Business Plan

Careful planning is crucial to get your e-commerce business from the planning phase to the launch phase and to ensure its successful future.

Going through the exercise of writing a business plan will cement your own understanding of your business and your market. It will also position you to take advantage of lucrative opportunities while mitigating harmful threats to your business down the line.

Your turn! Have you written a business plan for your online store? Do you have anything to add? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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How to Write an Ecommerce Business Plan [Examples & Template]

Kayla Carmicheal

Published: January 11, 2024

If you have a promising idea for an online e-commerce business , it’s important to create an e-commerce business plan to ensure your vision has enough stock to be profitable.

business plan site e commerce pdf

Having a business plan for your online store will help you define your target market, establish your monthly and quarterly sales goals, and increase the likelihood of long-term e-commerce success.

In this post, we’ll go over an online store business plan and how you can create one for your e-commerce startup. Let’s get started.

→ Download Now: Free Business Plan Template

What is an e-commerce business plan?

An e-commerce business plan is a document that outlines your business and its goals, analyzes your industry and competitors, and identifies the resources needed to execute your plan. It also lists the e-commerce retailers you’ll use to distribute your products and the marketing strategies you’ll use to drive sales.

Whether a company operates as a startup or has years of operations and growth under its belt, an e-commerce business plan is essential for evaluating a business and determining areas of improvement.

An e-commerce business plan is essential, with increasing numbers of shoppers conducting business online. It's estimated this number has reached over 2 billion . An e-commerce business plan keeps you organized and is useful when seeking investors who need to understand your company.

So, let’s dive into some examples of e-commerce business plans and what goes into writing one using our free template .

business plan site e commerce pdf

Free Business Plan Template

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

E-commerce Business Plan Template

business plan site e commerce pdf

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As the saying goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” So, if you wish to build your own eCommerce empire, having an eCommerce business plan is crucial to your success.

Why Should You Continue Reading This Article?

But maybe you have no idea where to start. Of course, you don’t want to leave out something important. In this article, we’ll show you how to build an eCommerce business plan and discuss how to write it in a well-crafted, simple way from scratch, for your eCommerce small business and what are the key elements that should be included in it.

Let’s get started!

Why You Need an eCommerce Business Plan

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” So, planning is almost everything you should start with.

business plan site e commerce pdf

Although it can be hard work to put together a comprehensive eCommerce business plan, it’s such an important step for the below-mentioned four reasons:

  • Establishing a Clear Roadmap:  Well-written strategic planning will help you set clear goals and set an action plan to reach them. It will also help you to set priorities and realistically estimate the time and effort needed to achieve them.
  • Being Ready for Any Sudden Changes:  Change in the eCommerce business world is happening quicker than ever before. And this increases the value of planning. Having a data-driven business plan gave managers a dashboard to work with navigated sudden change.
  • Securing Funding: If you are looking for a loan or an equity investment for your startup, getting a business plan document right is essential because an organization that will provide the money wants to make sure that you know what you are doing and have a clear path to profit.
  • Avoiding Costly Mistakes: If you are considering setting up a small business with limited resources, having a startup business plan helps you know exactly what resources are needed to avoid wasting resources down the drain and to make the most of them.

Before You Start Planning: 3 Key Questions to Answer

To build a well-written online business plan sample, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What Are You Selling?  Are you selling physical products (i.e apparel, home appliances, etc.), digital products (i.e online courses, ebooks, software, etc.), or services (i.e marketing services, consulting, car repair, etc.)?
  • For Whom?  Do you sell to individuals (B2C) or organizations, corporations, and non-profits (B2B) or are you are a part of a marketplace acting as a broker just like affiliate marketing?.
  • Who Are Your Suppliers? Do you manufacture your products in-house, or outsource a third-party manufacturer? Do you partner with a dropshipping manufacturer or do you depend on wholesale?

With great data comes a great business plan. Answering this line of questioning will give you an initial overview of what your business is and it’ll be like a starting point.

How to Structure a Business Plan for Your Online Store

Let’s agree from the start that the business plan will not be perfectly completed on the first try. It will continue to evolve as you create each of the planning stages and you’ll be making edits along the way.

For an eCommerce business plan example, there are six basic sections it should include, Let’s delve deeper…

6 Steps of eCommerce Business Plan

Let’s delve deeper…

1. Executive Summary

Any e-Commerce business plan should start with an executive summary of just one sheet summarizing each section of your business plan. Although it is placed at the beginning, it should be the last section to be written.

The executive summary is the first thing your prospect investors would read, and it creates the first impression of your project. So, make it simple, easy to understand, and attractive.

The executive summary should include:

  • Business ideas presentation
  • Business model
  • Products and services
  • Target audience and target market
  • Management team
  • Success factors or the points that differentiate your company
  • Financial strategy

2.  Company Overview

This is the next section that includes detailed information about your business and identified the competitive advantage of your online store. It covers some features such as:

  • Brand Name and Founder’s Name: Your online store name and who is behind it.
  • Brand Traits: List just 3 to 5 words that describe the brand that you want your online store to be identified with.
  • Domain Name: It’s the URL. It should be short, simple, memorable, and doesn’t include numbers.
  • Company Type: How your business operates.
  • Value Proposition: It’s a brief statement that shows how clear your idea is.
  • Mission Statement: The reasons behind your business’ existence.
  • Vision: The goals that you want to reach long term. They must be realistic and ambitious so they can be motivating.

3. Market  Analysis

Conducting market research around your eCommerce small business idea is essential. It tells you whether or not people will buy what you’re selling.

Market analysis is broken down into 3 main sections:

A. industry analysis:.

Industry analysis outlines the industry size facts and statistics bode well for your eCommerce business. It answers questions like:

  • What does the market look like for your industry overall?
  • Has it grown or changed over the years?
  • Are there any expectations of growing up or slipping down in the future?
  • Are there factors that could impact its growth?

Industry analysis is likely to be one of the toughest parts of your eCommerce business plan, but fortunately, research and white papers are abundant in almost all industries, besides free tools like Google Trends .

B . Market Segment:

The market segment or audience segmentation helps you to create your “Buyer Persona” which represents your target audiences’ various demographic sets (gender, age, geography, education, income level, ethnicity, etc.). The market segment includes both your target market and niche selection.

It’s important to provide an overview of your niche, whether there’s a micro-niche included, and why you chose it.

C. Competitive Analysis:

Competitive Analysis provides an overview of who is your market leaders are and direct, indirect, and potential competitors. It also identifies your competitors’ key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, focusing particularly on where you can defeat the competition or add unique value to your business.

eCommerce Business Plan

Creating a comprehensive competitive analysis includes 4 key phrases that are:

  • Identify Your Competitors
  • Select a Competitive Analysis Framework
  • Collect Data on Your Competitors
  • Write Your Competitive Analysis Report

4.  Marketing Plan

By now, you’ve covered almost all your company-related aspects, your customers, and your competitors as well. It’s time to talk about how you’re going to reach your customers and drive traffic to your eCommerce website.

The marketing plan describes the planned promotion strategies, business growth strategies, pricing strategies , sales strategies, and how much can you afford to spend on your marketing efforts. To come up with a well-defined marketing strategy, you need to deeply know your customer inside out.

It’s important to keep in mind that every potential customer is different, and there are many organic and paid marketing techniques that you can use to reach each of them. From SEO, social media, content marketing, and email marketing to influencers, these proven techniques will surely  acquire customers and drive traffic to your online store .

So, this stage is all about defining:

  • Which marketing channels are best for you to reach your customer?
  • How much can you afford to acquire customers to your online store?

5. Operations Plan

Operational planning reflects the task flow of your eCommerce store and how they’ll be divided. It includes your daily tasks as an online store owner. Some basic things should be established, such as your work schedule, your daily tasks timetable, your location, and your product stock.

Your tasks will include:

  • Offering support
  • Managing the stock
  • Managing returns
  • Negotiating with suppliers
  • Dealing with unforeseen events
  • Promoting your store
  • And much more

List all of your daily tasks and how your routine will be to make sure that everything in your business plan will be under control. If you are a startup and you’re the only person in charge, it’d be hard to manage all tasks. So, it’s important to have initial planning on paper, and then make small modifications down the line to hire a staff and management team.

6. Financial Plan

For many people, this is the most difficult part of a business plan. However, it’s extremely important. It outlines the major costs for an eCommerce business that include the cost of goods, internet connection fees, salaries of the staff, etc.

If you’re seeking to get outside funding, your financial statement should contain the following documents:

  • Summary of Funding Requirement: It’s an outline showing why you are applying for a loan, the cost for raw materials and operational machines, and how much money you need.
  • Use of Funds Statement / Income Statement: It shows how profitable your business would be during a given period and describes how you plan to use the funds you’ll get.
  • Business Budget: This displays cash inflow and outflow statements over a specific period of time.
  • 3-Year Profit and Loss Projection: It’s assumptions that are stated clearly and in detail to communicate your vision of the company’s future and how you anticipate achieving that vision.

5 eCommerce Business Plans’ Mistakes to Avoid in 2022

As for eCommerce owners ( whether it was for fashion, services, etc.), there are some methodologies they use to approximately estimate future turnover, profitability, and more.  But unfortunately, most of these estimations and expectations are frequently distant from market reality.

ExpandCart gathers the most common mistakes that usually happen when you put an eCommerce marketing plan into work, Let’s show you around! 

Mistake #1  |  Selecting the Improper eCommerce Platform

Whether you’re just getting started with your eCommerce shop or have been running one for a while, a not-suitable eCommerce platform can boost your eCommerce business plan or awfully put it to an end! 

After you’ve created a sample business plan for an eCommerce startup, you’ll need to think about several things when selecting an eCommerce platform, including:

  • Your financial situation
  • Whether you prefer a template or bespoke design, we can help.
  • What type of experience do your consumers want?
  • What items do you intend to sell?
  • How do you intend to grow your company?
  • What tools your platform needs to integrate with?
  • How much control do you desire over your website?

The last thing you want is to pick a platform that restricts your company’s development, doesn’t interact with your existing systems, or doesn’t provide the amount of control and flexibility you want.

An improper eCommerce platform can result in a variety of problems, including income loss, decreased conversions, less traffic, security difficulties, bad design, and more. This major error might force you to spend even more time, money, and effort modernizing your platform or moving to a new one entirely.

Take your time while deciding on the best eCommerce platform for your online eCommerce as this will affect the whole performance of your eCommerce business plan. 

Mistake #2  |Skipping Environment Check

Before drafting an eCommerce business plan to launch or boost your e-commerce website, it’s a crucial step to start assessing the viability of your ideas before anything!

And here, we don’t mean broad market studies, but rather a comprehensive test using a limited version of your site, that will assist in ensuring in the field that you are gaining traction in your market. You must be able to tie your business strategy to the fact that you have already made your first sales even before you daft your eCommerce business plan. 

Aside from the checking and validation component, an initial test will help you to get useful feedback from your consumers and discover for yourself the major roadblocks or places for progress in your business.

You’ll be in a better position to carry out your company plan and generate realistic and plausible financial projections once you’ve completed it.

Mistake #3 | No Clear Brand Message or Identity

A good product alone won’t perform as good branding! 

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your things will sell themselves. To build a successful business, you’ll need to develop a strong brand identity that is both approachable to your target audience and favorable to viral brand awareness. If you’ve done your research, you should have a good notion of what your target audience wants and how to communicate with them. Then it’s only a matter of maintaining a consistent and firm message.

A strong brand identity boosts client loyalty and your chances of gaining global brand recognition.

Mistake #4 | Shallow Website Content 

If your eCommerce business relies on organic traffic to attract clients, then the material on your website should be crafted with the user and SEO in mind.

Many organizations make the mistake of considering content as an afterthought, failing to see that each piece of content represents a chance to increase traffic and convert clients.

You need to provide content that is relevant to your target audience, optimized for search engine traffic, and entices consumers to buy your items, from your homepage to your product descriptions.

Investing in SEO and CRO-friendly content is worthwhile, whether you engage with an SEO service or do it yourself. This entails using the correct high-quality keywords for your niche and crafting material that is designed to convert.

Mistake #5 | Mistargeted Audience 

What else could you possibly require? You have items, a company strategy, and a website. Unfortunately, having an offer and a venue to pitch it isn’t enough to be a true eCommerce success.

One of the most common blunders a business owner can make is failing to precisely define their target demographic and spend time learning what makes them tick. You’ll need to do some serious market research to make sure that:

  • Your target audience has a genuine necessity for your product. 
  • You know how to express your offer in a way that they will comprehend. 
  • You may create a marketing plan that prioritizes your target audience.

Identifying and specifying your target audience can help you develop an atmosphere that they will remember and a brand message that will tempt them to buy and re-buy, and hence, a successful eCommerce business plan! 

Final Notes

We are living in a world of fast-paced digital transformation. Almost all businesses are thinking of building a strong online presence. Being prepared and having a well-crafted business plan for your dream eCommerce website helps you focus on what exactly you want your business to be in the future and provides a map of how to get there in no time.

Remember! Creating your own eCommerce business plan won’t be that easy, but success comes to those willing to put in the work and if you did it right, you will witness a great increase in sales and revenue . You can seek help from experts who can help you plan your business effectively.

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E-commerce business plan template

Download this e-commerce business plan template in PDF or Word format, or tailor it to your project directly in our business plan software.

Discover our e-commerce business plan template

Our e-commerce business plan template gives you the structure to write a professional plan.

Not accustomed to writing business plans? Our e-commerce business template will turn a typically challenging process into a total breeze.

Modelled on a complete business plan of a e-commerce shop in Normandy, our template features both the financial forecast and the written part that presents the project, its team, the local market and the business strategy implemented by the management.

Cast your eyes on this template to achieve a better understanding of what your bank and investors would like to see, so that you can create a business plan that meets their expectations.

e-commerce businesss plan template

7 day free trial. No credit card required. E-commerce business plan template available with paid plans only.

How to use this e-commerce business plan template

Edit the e-commerce business plan template online, or download it.

There are 3 ways to use this template:

  • Edit it online: you can adapt this template to your business idea by changing the text or the financial forecast directly in our business planning software
  • Download in PDF: if you're just after a little inspiration, you can download the e-commerce business plan template in PDF to read over it
  • Download in Word format: want to edit your plan on Word? Simply export the e-commerce business plan template to Ms Word (.docx) format

online editor for e-commerce business plan template

E-commerce business plan template content

This template includes a complete e-commerce business plan example, with a financial forecast and the following sections:

  • Executive summary: the executive summary gives the reader a clear and concise overview of your business idea
  • Company: this section lays out the structure of your business, including its location, management team and legal form
  • Products and services: here, you'll give an overview of the services or products offered by the company
  • Market analysis: the market analysis is where you’ll demonstrate that there is a strong demand for your products and services through a thorough assessment of the industry (customer profile, hot trends, regulation, competition, etc.)
  • Strategy: this section highlights the company's game plan when it comes to pricing, marketing and mitigating risks along the way
  • Operations: this step lays out the company's operational organisation, including the recruitment plan
  • Financial plan: the financial plan includes a table of sources & uses (initial funding plan), and complete financial statements (P&L, balance sheet and cash flow statements).
  • Appendices: this part provides the opportunity to include multiple financial appendices generated by our software (debt maturity profile, monthly financial statements, financial analysis, etc.).

cover page and table of contents for the e-shop business plan template by The Business Plan Shop

Executive summary of the e-commerce store's business plan

The executive summary gives the reader a clear and concise overview of your business idea.

Our e-commerce business plan example's executive summary is formed of the following subsections:

  • Business overview: in this subsection, we outline who the e-commerce store founders are, what legal form they've chosen for the business, and the rationale behind the choice of their location
  • Market overview: in this subsection, we summarize the conclusions of the market analysis performed by the e-commerce's owners and explain which type/s of online buyers (age, income, gender etc.) they aim to target.
  • Financial highlights: in this subsection, we give an overview of the forecasted financial performance of the e-commerce store over the first 3 years of operation
  • Our ask: in this subsection, we outline the amount of financing required to start the e-commerce store and how it's going to be funded (the founders are seeking a bank loan to start their e-commerce store)

executive summary for e-commerce business plan sample

Company overview included in our e-commerce business plan sample

This section lays out the structure of your business, including its location, management team and legal form.

Our e-commerce business plan template's company section is formed of the following subsections:

  • Structure & Ownership: in this subsection, we outline who the e-commerce store's shareholders are and what legal form they've chosen for the business
  • Location: in this subsection, we present the area surrounding the location chosen for the business and the layout and main features of the premises
  • Management Team: in this subsection, we give an overview of the background of each of the e-commerce store's founders, explain how they met and why they decided to start a company together

company overview included in e-commerce business plan template

Products and services offered by the e-commerce store

The products and services section is where you will present the different types of items sold by your e-commerce store.

In our e-commerce business plan template products and services section, we cover:

  • Animals (pets): a selection of home pets (reptiles) ranging from snakes to frogs
  • Pet accessories: everything you need to keep your reptile in good shape, ranging from heating to to terrarium
  • Pet food: specalised food products including insects, rodents and pellets

product and services description of the e-shop business plan example

Market analysis for the opening of the e-commerce store

The market analysis is where you’ll demonstrate that there is a strong demand for your products and services through a thorough assessment of the industry (customer profile, hot trends, regulation, competition, etc.)

Our e-commerce business plan example's market analysis section is formed of the following subsections:

  • Demographics and Segmentation: in this subsection, we explore the market in depth. We look at the supply and demand sides both at the national and local level, analyse the hot trends perceived by the founders, and the key statistics that will help the founders build their positioning
  • Target market: in this subsection, our founders explain which type of pet (reptile) lovers they view as their ideal customers and why they chose to target them
  • Competition: in this subsection, we take a look at the direct (e-commerces stores online selling reptiles and related products) and indirect (other ways of purchasing reptiles, accessories and food) local competition to ensure we have a differentiated positioning and that the market is large enough to accommodate the arrival of new e-commerce store
  • Regulation: in this subsection, we give an overview of the main regulation applicable to our e-commerce store

market analysis section of the e-commerce business plan template

Setting the strategy for our e-commerce

This section highlights the company's game plan when it comes to pricing, marketing and mitigating risks along the way.

Our e-commerce business plan template strategy section is formed of the following subsections:

  • Pricing: in this subsection, we explain how we set the prices of our main categories of products (animals, accessories, food) and the rationale behind our choice
  • Marketing plan: in this subsection, we explain what action we'll put in place to build awareness and loyalty among our e-commerce store customers
  • Milestones: in this subsection, we give an overview of the main goals we set for ourselves for the next 3 years
  • Risks and Mittigants: in this subsection, we perform an assessment of the medium and long-term risks that could jeopardize the financial viability of our e-commerce store and outline how we intend to mitigate them

e-commerce business plan example: stragtegy section

Operations section of the e-commerce business plan template

This part lays out the company's operational organisation, including the recruitment plan.

Our e-commerce business plan example's operations section is formed of the following subsections:

  • Personnel plan: in this subsection, we explain what our opening hours will be and explain the responsibilities of each of staff member in our e-commerce store
  • Key assets and IP: in this subsection, we list the assets and intellectual property rights which are critical to our business operations and explain how we will secure and protect each of these
  • Suppliers: in this subsection, we give an overview of the main suppliers we will use our what commercial terms have been negotiated with them

e-commerce business plan template: operations section

Financial plan included in our e-commerce business plan template

This section presents the expected financial performance of the e-commerce store over the next 3 years.

Our e-commerce business plan example's financial plan is formed of the following subsections:

  • Start-up funding: in this subsection, we list the cost of each item required to launch the e-commerce store
  • Important assumptions: in this subsection, we explain the methodology and the main assumptions used to build the e-commerce store's financial forecast
  • Sales forecast: in this subsection, we detail the expected revenues and growth rate for our e-commerce store in the coming years
  • Cost structure: in this subsection, we list all the expenses required for our e-commerce store to operate smoothly
  • Projected Profit & Loss statement: in this subsection, we analyse our forecasted P&L and comment on the expected profitability of our e-commerce store over the next 3 years
  • Projected cash flow statement: in this subsection, we analyse the expected cash generation of the e-commerce store
  • Projected balance sheet: in this section we give an analysis of the liquidity and solvability implied from our balance sheet

e-commerce business plan forecasted P&L

Appendices of the e-commerce business plan template

This part provides the opportunity to include multiple financial appendices generated by our software (debt maturity profile, monthly financial statements, financial analysis, etc.).

Our e-commerce business plan template's appendices include:

  • A maturity profile chart showing the principal repayments of their loans over the next 3 years
  • A monthly cash flow forecast: showing how much cash is being generated or consumed each month over the first 3 years of operations

e-commerce business plan template: monthly cash flow forecast

E-commerce business plan template sample

Executive summary, business overview.

1001 Reptiles will sell animals and terrarium accessories all over France through its website 1001-reptiles.com. 

The company will be located in an industrial building in Caen. 

The legal structure chosen is a limited company. The company will be managed by 2 of the 3 shareholders acting as co-managers. 

The managers have known each other for more than 15 years and have very complementary skills: Mr. Jean D (30% of the capital) will be in charge of supplies, shipments, and customer service, and Mr. Rémy Y (30% of the capital) will be in charge of the administration and marketing of the Internet site. 

The third shareholder, Mrs Laure H (40% of the shares) will not be involved in the management of the company. 

Market Overview

The French terrarium market is a niche market estimated at €39m in 2015. 

This market benefited from an average annual growth of 23% over the period 2008 - 2015, during which time this segment saw its share of the French pet market increase from 0.24% to 0.78%. 

In terms of products, the dominant category in the pet market is food with 74% of the market (by value), with pet shopping itself representing only 3% of the market. 

E-commerce is a growing distribution channel in the pet market (+6% penetration since 2012). E-commerce is also a particularly suitable channel for terrariums since the offer for this category is currently underdeveloped in specialized retail outlets that prefer to reserve their floor space for more established market segments, such as cats, dogs, or fish.

1001 Reptiles intends to take advantage of this situation by developing an e-commerce offering, proposing a wide range of animals, accessories, food products, and care. 

Our offer will target both owners of lizards, snakes, turtles, and amphibians, as well as people wishing to acquire such pets. 

We will be in direct competition with other websites offering the sale of products related to terrariophily, and in indirect competition with specialized sales outlets. 

We will not be the first existing company to offer this online, but fortunately the competition is relatively weak compared to other markets such as the textile market, for example. A large part of the competing sites belong to local pet shops, and have only limited expertise in e-commerce. On the other hand, most of the sites with a real know-how in e-commerce such as amazon.fr or animaux-market.com have only a limited expertise in terrariophily. 

We believe that we can offer a superior shopping experience on our site than that offered by our competitors, thanks to the mastery of e-commerce store and the extensive knowledge in terrariophily of our founders. 

Financial Highlights

We expect to be profitable in our third year of activity with sales of €445,000 and an EBITDA of €26,265 (with a 5.90% margin).

WThe company benefits from negative working capital requirements, therefore the net operating cash flow should be positive over the duration of the plan despite the loss making situation in the first two years.

We estimate that we need a total of €70,000 to open our e-commerce store.

Our partner will contribute €50,000 (71.5% of the total amount).

We would like to obtain a bank loan of €20,000 to complete the financing.

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It is a very well designed software that allows you to visualise each step of your project, understand if the idea is viable or not and think about the steps needed to start your business.

The software is just impeccable. Of course, it meets the requirements of people starting a business. In addition to having a tool for putting together a proper financial forecast, there is also a tool to help write the business plan.

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E-commerce shop business plan template faq.

An e-commerce site business plan is a written document that sets out the commercial, operational and financial objectives of the company over the next 3 to 5 years.

It consists of two main parts:

  • A written part that presents, in detail, your e-commerce business, the team, your strategy, and your medium-term objectives.
  • A financial forecast that highlights the expected profitability of the e-commerce site and the initial funding requirements.

The lack of business planning is one of the main reasons why more than 50% of startups fail within 5 years. If you're starting an e-commerce site, writing a business plan is a must-have in order to reduce the risk of failure of your project.

Business plans are also required by most lenders and investors in order to secure financing, therefore a business plan is also highly recommended if you're seeking a loan or equity investment for your e-commerce site.

Writing an e-commerce business plan without The Business Plan Shop can be both error-prone and time-consuming - whether you're new to entrepreneurship or experienced:

  • You'll need to research the structure of a business plan, what to include in each section, and what key elements investors and lenders expect to see
  • You may encounter writer's block (especially if it's the first time you're writing a business plan for your e-commerce site)
  • You'll need to create a financial forecast on a spreadsheet which requires a solid understanding of accounting and financial modelling in order to be done without error
  • You'll need to spend hours formatting financial data on Excel or Sheets before it's ready to integrate into your business plan
  • Any updates to your e-commerce business plan or financial forecast will need to be done manually

Luckily for you, The Business Plan Shop's online platform and e-commerce business plan template guide you through every stage of writing a business plan, so that you can spend more time managing and growing your business instead.

Our editor follows a best-in-class structure for professional business plans. Each section and subsection includes examples and instructions to help you, while our business plan templates provide further inspiration if you're stuck.

Our financial forecasting software helps you create a forecast and integrate it into your business plan with ease. Anytime you update your data, your business plan automatically updates.

And with our forecasting software all the calculations are done for you, without errors.

The budget to start and run an e-commerce site will depend on the design of the website and the price of the domain name.

A small e-commerce website would probably be inexpensive and enough to get started with. However, if you are looking to use a web designer, you'll probably end up incurring much higher costs.

As an example, in our e-commerce business plan template the total initial funding requirement amounted to €70,000, with the founders contributing €50,000.

In order to assess the exact budget for your e-commerce site idea, you need to do a financial forecast using a financial projection tool such as the one we offer .

The package we offer at The Business Plan Shop goes way beyond a simple blank template you need to fill. With our platform you get:

  • Access to one of the best business plan software on the market
  • Access to our e-commerce business plan template which contains a complete example of a written business plan and financial forecast to start a e-commerce
  • Access to our entire business plan templates library - giving you dozens of examples to take inspiration from
  • Access to our financial planning and analysis platform so that you can track the actual performance of your business against what you had planned in your business plan and re-plan easily

But you shouldn't take our word for it: try our solution for free and make your own opinion!

The free trial enables you to try the software for free during 7 days in order to verify that it meets your requirements before buying.

Some features are limited during the free trial, the main limits are:

  • You can only create one business plan
  • The financials of the first year are visible, but data for other years are hidden
  • You can export your plan in PDF but not in Word or CSV
  • No access to our business plan templates

You can create your account and start your free trial here .

Access to our template is included with all our paid subscriptions.

Please visit our pricing page to learn about this in more detail.

Other business plan templates and resources to discover

May 24, 2022 | 9 min read

How to Write an E-Commerce Business Plan (Step-by-Step)

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Dream of being your own boss? So do lots of other people, including 64 percent of the UK workforce and 65 percent of Americans . And I’m sure you’d see similar figures across a bunch of other countries.

I get it—after all, I did it myself.

But sadly, not every business is destined to become the next Amazon, Google, or Sleeknote.

Much-quoted data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that about one in five new businesses survive for 12 months or less , while only half make it to the five-year mark:

Survival Rates of New Businesses

So what separates the successes from the also-rans and the never-weres?

While some people will tell you the secret to “making it” lies in adopting a rise-and-grind mentality , truth is there is any number of reasons why some businesses thrive and others fail. 

But I can categorically tell you there’s one thing every successful startup has in common, and that’s a killer e-commerce business plan.

Basics of Writing an E-Commerce Business Plan

What is an e-commerce business plan, why do i need an e-commerce business plan, how to write an e-commerce business plan.

E-commerce business plans are roadmaps that plot the route to achieving your business goals. They set out who you are, what products you sell, and how you plan to operate (among many other things).

Just like a real roadmap, e-commerce business plans also highlight potential hazards, helping you plot alternate routes well in advance.

No one expects you to stick precisely to your original plan throughout the entire lifespan of your business. But by gathering business-critical information like cash flow, sales projections, and marketing budgets in a single place, your business plan can help you build a persuasive pitch to win backing from investors, which can be absolutely vital at the start of your journey.

And even if you’re not looking for external funding, figuring out your strengths, weaknesses, and objectives early on will save you a lot of pain down the line.

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm; why should I spend days or weeks writing a business plan? Why can’t I just get on with it?”

You’re not completely wrong. Honestly, if you think buying a house or having a baby is stressful, try starting a business.

One study claims the biggest challenge founders face in the first three months is building a customer base, but there are countless others.

Challenges of Business Founders Statistics

From dealing with suppliers to building a website and chasing invoices, it’s one headache after another, and you never feel like you have enough time to give each problem your full focus.

But you really can’t afford to overlook your e-commerce business plan. Here are five benefits to creating one.

1. Understanding the Competitive Landscape

You might like to think of yourself as a visionary, but I can pretty much guarantee that someone, somewhere has had a similar business idea to yours.

They might have been doing it for years, or they might be gearing up to hit the market at the same time as you.

Either way, you need to know about them, and the research you carry out while building a business plan will naturally help you do that. Which means you’ll be better placed to differentiate yourself through marketing.

2. Getting to Know Your Audience

Another key element of creating a business plan is assessing the market you’re trying to reach. That means digging into who you’re selling to, where they hang out online and “in real life”, and what they’re looking for in a product like yours.

Why would they buy it? When would they buy it? How much would they spend on it?

All of that will help inform your messaging .

3. Locating Potential Investors

Unless you have a metaphorical (or literal) gold mine to fall back on, money is definitely going to cause you a few headaches in the early days of your business.

Even successful e-commerce companies struggled to keep the lights on when they were just starting up.

Building a business plan will help you identify potential sources of financial backing, like angel investors, business loans, venture capitalists, or wealthy business partners.

4. Finding Your Niche

There’s a reason Amazon started out as an online bookstore, rather than immediately selling every product you could ever imagine.

As an e-commerce startup, you need a niche . Ideally, you need to go further and find a niche within a niche. Rather than founding a womenswear e-commerce site, launch one that’s 100 percent sustainable and carbon-neutral. Or instead of selling regular sunglasses, sell sunglasses made from hemp (I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here).

My point is, all the other research you’ve done at this stage—studying your competitors, understanding your audience, figuring out your pricing strategy—will naturally guide you toward the best niche with the biggest opportunities.

5. Sourcing Fresh Talent

Admittedly, recruitment might not be on your immediate agenda.

But if things go well, you’re going to need a little help in the not-too-distant future. You might need people in the warehouse, a customer success agent or two, a marketing team, a developer, someone to handle the finances… The list is huge.

Problem is, a lot of other businesses want to get their hands on those people, too.

If you don’t want recruitment to constrain your growth, start reaching out to potential candidates early, using the information in your business plan to get them bought into your project.

Hopefully, by this point, I’ve demonstrated the value of creating an e-commerce business plan. Now, let’s dive into how to do it.

There are no hard-and-fast rules to how long a business plan should be. The more complex the business, the more in-depth the plan. But as a minimum, your business plan should include these seven sections:

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Market analysis
  • Products and services
  • Marketing plan
  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financial plan

You might want to add a few more too. For instance, if you’re entering a largely untapped niche, you might want a section dedicated to the audience you’ll be targeting.

But for most e-commerce businesses, those seven categories should do the job.

Section 1: Executive Summary

Think of this as the “elevator pitch” element of your business plan.

Your goal here is to sum up the rest of your business plan in no more than one page, communicating key information to time-poor reviewers, and (hopefully) tempting them to read on.

Generally, you should look to answer the following questions:

  • What does your business do?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What do you sell?
  • Who will you sell it to?
  • What sets you apart from the competition?
  • How will you raise awareness among your target audience?
  • What is your current monthly/annual revenue?
  • What is your projected revenue for next year and the following years?
  • Who’s currently on your team?
  • What are their backgrounds and skills?
  • How much money are you asking for (if you’re looking for financial backing)?

Section 2: Company Overview

Again, heed the word “overview”. Like the executive summary, this is a concise section that demonstrates who you are, what you do, and why people should care.

Whether you’re seeking investment or planning your e-commerce marketing strategy , it’s vital you get all this information down in one place. Make sure to include your:

  • Company name
  • Business structure (e.g. sole proprietor, partnership, LLC)
  • Vision, mission statement, and value proposition
  • Product or service
  • Business model (e.g. direct to consumer, dropshipping, wholesale)
  • Team members, including their roles, backgrounds, and salaries
  • Short and long-term business objectives

Section 3: Market Analysis

A bad product in a good market stands a chance of success.

If you don’t believe me, check out your own purchase history—if you’re anything like me, you’ll have bought your fair share of useless products that sounded amazing when you saw them online.

But a good product in a bad market doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance. You might be completely changing the game; solving a problem that’s never been solved before. But if no one’s prepared to spend money on it, you’ve not got a business—you’ve got a hobby.

The market analysis stage of your e-commerce business plan should help you find the right market: one with lots of customers who have an immediate need for the “thing” you’re selling (and enough money to buy it). Your market analysis should incorporate the following elements:

The Size of Your Market

It’s impossible to come up with a meaningful financial projection without first estimating the number of people who are potentially interested in buying your product.

Of course, to do that, you first need to figure out who your customers are.

The more demographic and psychographic information you have on them, the more accurately you’ll be able to gauge the scale of your market.

At the same time, remember to factor in broader industry trends. If you’re starting an e-commerce store that exclusively sells gas cans, you might have some early growth potential, but bear in mind there’s a good chance we’ll all be driving electric cars within a decade—in which case your whole market will have dried up.

Your Competitors

No e-commerce brand is an island.

To stand out against the competition, you need to find some way to differentiate yourself. That could be through:

  • Segmentation: Focusing on a very specific (and, ideally, underserved) niche within a larger market.
  • Pricing strategy: Do you plan to undercut your rivals? Or create demand through exclusivity by pricing yourself higher?
  • Distinctiveness: Ideally, there’ll be something unique that distinguishes you from the current market leaders.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analyses are about assessing your business’s:

  • Strengths: The things you do best.
  • Weaknesses: The things you’re not so good at.
  • Opportunities: Gaps and advantages in your market.
  • Threats: External challenges you need to tackle.

Typically, a SWOT analysis is presented as a simple, four-section grid, with bullet points under each heading. Here’s a beautifully presented example from the creative geniuses at Asana :

SWOT Analysis Example from Asana

Section 4: Products & Services

In a sense, your whole e-commerce business plan will be centered on your products and services.

However, given their importance to your business prospects, a section of your plan should be dedicated solely to outlining what you’re selling.

If you only sell one product or plan to launch with a very small range, give plenty of detail on each. But if you stock a wide selection of products, stick to general features and benefits such as price, unique selling points, and materials.

Additionally, be sure to reference any new products you’re planning to launch in the near future, along with any intellectual property you own.

Section 5: Marketing Plan

We know who you are and what you’re selling.

Now’s your chance to explain how you’re going to sell it.

As a marketer, I’m well aware that a marketing plan could easily run to thousands of words, and it can be hard to know where to start—you’ve likely got a lot of ideas about positioning and messaging. To make your life a little easier, use the so-called “four Ps of marketing” as the backbone of your marketing plan:

  • Product: How does it meet the needs of your customers? What are its unique selling points?
  • Price: How much does it cost? What is its value?
  • Place: Where are you selling it?
  • Promotion: Which channels will you use to reach your target audience? What messaging will you use?

Discuss the first three relatively briefly, as you’ll cover them in greater depth in other parts of your e-commerce business plan.

Reserve the most detail for that final “P”: promotion. That’s the real meat and drink of your marketing strategy.

Section 6: Logistics & Operations Plan

This might not be the “sexiest” part of your e-commerce business plan, but it’s important to discuss the systems and processes that will help you reach your goals. Specifically, you’ll want to cover:

  • Suppliers: Who are they and where are they based? What are their payment terms?
  • Production: Are you manufacturing your own products, using a third party, or going down the dropshipping route? Can you efficiently scale up or down to cope with changing demand?
  • Shipping and fulfillment: Are you handling fulfillment in-house or using a third party? Will you ship internationally? How long will it take for products to reach customers?
  • Inventory: How much will you keep, and where will you store it? How will you manage and track it?

Section 7: Financial Plan

Whether you’re seeking backing from an external investor or simply trying to understand your projected revenue and costs, a financial plan is a crucial element of your e-commerce business plan. Most are broken down into three elements.

Income Statement

Designed to demonstrate your revenue sources and expenses over a month, quarter, or year, the income statement also highlights your all-important bottom line. Subtract expenses from revenue and you’ll see whether you’re in profit or loss.

Of course, if you’re yet to launch your e-commerce business, these figures can be projected.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is used to calculate the level of equity in your business—that is, the amount you’d be left with if all debts were paid and assets cashed. To work it out, subtract liabilities (things like loan repayments, wages, and accounts payable) from assets (such as stock and equipment).

Cash Flow Statement

Lastly, your cash flow statement is like a real-time version of your income statement. That’s because it takes into account when cash goes in and out of your business, based on when payments are received and debts settled.

Calculating and projecting cash flow should help you identify periods when you’re likely to be in surplus or short on money, which gives you time to prepare.

Sure, an e-commerce business plan requires a whole lot of work.

But as Abraham Lincoln supposedly said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

All that time spent analyzing your audience, honing your messaging , and crunching the financial numbers will give you a better chance of making it through those tough early days and scaling effectively when the time is right.

And honestly, no one ever said starting a business is easy.

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Emil Kristensen

Emil is the CMO of Drip. When he’s not busy writing awesome content and building the Drip brand, he spends his time reading blog posts and listening to podcasts.

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How to Write an Ecommerce Business Plan

Ecommerce business plan for online store

If you’ve got an exciting concept for an e-commerce venture, it’s crucial to develop a business plan tailored to your online store. This plan will play a pivotal role in ensuring that your vision has the necessary resources to thrive and generate profits. By crafting a comprehensive business plan for your online retail operation, you can effectively pinpoint your target audience, set clear monthly and quarterly sales targets, and significantly enhance the prospects of achieving long-term success in the e-commerce industry.

As a business plan writer and consultant , I’ve authored over 15,000 business plans for various enterprises, many of which have gone on to achieve substantial growth and success. In this article, I offer insights based on my experience and expertise in creating an e-commerce business plan.

What is an ecommerce business plan?

An ecommerce business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the goals, strategies, and financial projections of an online business. It serves as a roadmap for the business, guiding entrepreneurs in making informed decisions and attracting investors.

How to Write an E-commerce Business Plan Step By Step

  • Provide an executive summary.
  • Business overview.
  • Explain your offerings.
  • Analyze the market.
  • Develop your marketing strategy.
  • Establish a sales plan.

l. Provide an executive summary

An executive summary serves as a succinct, one-to-two-page overview of your business, meticulously crafted to inform stakeholders about the essential elements of your comprehensive business plan. It’s a window into your business’s aspirations, strategies, and financial projections, providing a clear roadmap for decision-making and attracting potential investors.

An ecommerce business plan executive summary can look something like this:

Here’s a complete guide on how to write an effective executive summary with examples.

ll. Business overview

Business overview section beckons for meticulous attention to detail, as it showcases the very essence of your business – your product or service. It’s the stage upon which your offering takes center stage, captivating the audience with its unique value proposition and compelling features. Begin by painting a vivid overview of what you’re bringing to the market, piquing the interest of potential customers and investors alike.

A business overview of Pet Planet online store may look something like this:

Here are 14 profitable eCommerce business ideas you can start today!

lll. Explain your offerings

Having established the foundation of your business and its purpose, it’s time to embark on a deeper exploration of your plan. The spotlight now falls upon the products and services that will form the cornerstone of your venture. Begin by meticulously listing each offering, accompanied by a clear explanation of its purpose. Address the fundamental question of ‘why’ – why have you chosen to offer these specific products and services ? What unique value do they bring to the market?

Once the products and services have been comprehensively described, it’s time to illuminate the pricing model that will govern your offerings. Assign a clear cost to each service, considering factors such as production costs, market demand, and competitive pricing. Determining pricing, especially for a startup, can be a complex endeavor. Fortunately, sales pricing calculators can serve as valuable allies in identifying the optimal pricing strategy .

A explain your offerings of smart home products may look something like this:

  • Business Plan Template

For your E-store business, download this ecommerce business plan template now.

lV. Analyze the market

A comprehensive market analysis serves as a compass, guiding your business through the intricate terrain of the marketplace. It begins with a deep understanding of your target audience, delving into their demographics, preferences, and purchasing behaviors. This knowledge empowers you to tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies to resonate with their needs and aspirations.

Here is how analyze the market in our ecommerce business plan.

How to Write Products and Services Section of Business Plan

Your perfect Ecommerce business plan is just a click away.

You have a great business idea. We can help you turn it into a perfect business plan..

V. Develop your marketing strategy

An ecommerce business’s marketing plan is its secret weapon, guiding it towards brand awareness, target audience reach , and enhanced sales and revenue. This plan revolves around positioning strategy, acquisition channels, and tools and technology. Positioning strategy determines how you will differentiate yourself in the market, while acquisition channels identify how your target audience discovers your business.

Finally, tools and technology harness the power of innovation to enhance your reach, automate tasks, and gain valuable insights into customer behavior. By crafting and implementing a comprehensive marketing plan , you can effectively build brand awareness, attract your target audience, and drive growth and profitability for your ecommerce venture.

How to Write the Marketing Plan in Ecommerce Business Plan?

Vl. Establish a sales plan

Importance of an ecommerce business plan.

The significance of an ecommerce business plan cannot be overstated. It plays a pivotal role in:

  • Defining Your Business Goals: Clearly articulating your business objectives provides a sense of direction and ensures that your actions are aligned with your overall vision.
  • Identifying Your Target Market: Understanding your target audience's needs, preferences, and behaviors is crucial for tailoring your products, services, and marketing strategies effectively.
  • Developing Effective Marketing Strategies: A well-defined marketing plan outlines the strategies you will employ to reach your target audience, generate leads, and drive sales.
  • Securing Funding: Investors and lenders often require a comprehensive business plan to assess the viability of your venture and the potential return on their investment.

Tips for Writing an Effective Ecommerce Business Plan

  • Conduct Thorough Research: Gather comprehensive data and insights into your target market, competitors, and industry trends.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable and measurable goals that align with your business's resources and capabilities.
  • Update Regularly: Review and update your business plan periodically to reflect changes in your market, strategies, or goals.
  • Quantify Your Financial Projections: Back up your financial projections with sound assumptions and calculations.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your business plan with trusted advisors and mentors for constructive feedback and suggestions.

Revenue projections can be determined by conducting market research, analyzing industry trends, evaluating your target market size, and considering your pricing strategy. Additionally, factors such as marketing efforts, customer acquisition rates, and competition should be taken into account.

Managing operating expenses effectively involves careful budgeting, identifying cost-saving opportunities, negotiating with suppliers, optimizing operational processes, and regularly reviewing expenses. It’s important to strike a balance between controlling costs without compromising the quality of your products or services.

Funding options for an eCommerce business may include self-funding, loans from financial institutions, angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding platforms, or partnerships. Consider your business’s financial needs, growth plans, and potential risks when exploring funding options.

The break-even point is the point at which your total revenue matches your total expenses, resulting in neither profit nor loss. It can be calculated by dividing your fixed costs by the contribution margin (selling price per unit minus variable costs per unit). This calculation helps you determine the minimum sales volume required to cover costs.

Tracking CAC and CLV is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts. CAC helps determine the cost of acquiring a new customer, while CLV estimates the value a customer brings to your business over their lifetime. By analyzing these metrics, you can optimize your marketing strategies and ensure that the cost of acquiring customers aligns with their long-term value.

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Digital Marketing Guides & Strategies

Ecommerce business startup guide: checklist & business plan | ecommerce ceo, e-commerce & retail.

Are you one of the ambitious eCommerce startups and want to have your own business someday? Or even like to be your own boss and start whatever business you are passionate about?

The first thing you have to do in order to start your startup company is to make a business plan , so it is important to know about business plan writing and the rest follows.

This guide will be your blueprint; you should take a look at it before launching your startup eCommerce company.

Before Launching Your eCommerce Business

There are a variety of business models out there; however, they might not be “the one” for everyone. At first, you want to save time and energy besides finding the perfect business model that suits you best.

You do not need to rush into a specific business model because someone said this was best for them, as mentioned earlier, what fits others might not fit you.

However, this guide covers the top 5 popular eCommerce business models, research them and take a  good look just to make up your mind, and they are:

  • Research Private Label Business Ideas
  • Research Amazon Affiliate Marketing
  • Research Dropshipping
  • Research Print On Demand
  • Research Selling Digital Products

Related Guide: The Guide to Dropshipping 101: Ecommerce Without Inventory

Create Your Ecommerce Business Plan

So, you have got your business model after you’ve researched the, what’s next?

Here are the main points to know that you should bear in mind while building your eCommerce startup;

  • Research Product Ideas and Target Markets: Once you have this you can implement various business models.
  • Competitive Market Research: To do this you have to have an idea about your product and market niche when you do, you need to know who your competitors are.

For this one, KW Finder can help you find accurate results for the most difficult keywords in the market.

  • Initial Brand Development: You can use your competitive market research to create a brand that establishes points of parity and points of differentiation.
  • Set up a Business and Complete Plan: It is time to make your brand official after you got it established.
  • Email Marketing Automation : You need to consider this phase – adding email automation to your marketing; this is the phase where most people selling products fail.

Download the full guide and get a full eCommerce Business Plan for your eCommerce startup

The Table of Content of “Ecommerce Business Startup Guide: Checklist & Business Plan”:

  • Before you start
  • Research product ideas and target markets
  • Competitive market research
  • Initial brand development
  • Set up a business and complete plan
  • Plan your website content and launch
  • Email marketing automation (As needed)
  • Ecommerce business plan
  • Marketing and operation plan
  • Financial plan
  • Additional notes

Number of Pages:

Affiliate marketing, dropshipping, ecommerce business, ecommerce market.

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Ecommerce CEO

  • What should I sell online?
  • What business models are legit?
  • Should I sell on Amazon or my own website?
  • Should I use Shopify or WooCommerce?
  • How will I get traffic and sales?
  • How will I manage fulfillment – Amazon or ShipBob?
  • How do I avoid bad business investments?

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NoHassleReturn.com

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

As E-commerce continues to accelerate, so does the problem of merchants and manufacturers needing to process returns. The average rate of returns for Internet-based companies is 9%. In the coming year the value of returned merchandise was $1.5 billion. Every one of these transactions involves financial processing. Many of them require physical shipping of physical goods, plus processing the goods as received. This is a huge hassle. 

NoHassleReturn.com strives to position itself as a strategic partnership between online merchants, Web hosting companies and portals, shipping companies, and online payment agents such as credit card issuers. Due to demand aggregation, the strategy will produce reduced or totally free shipping of returned merchandise to consumers. This differentiating element will multiply the consumer acceptance factor and will draw more revenues to all participating companies. The proposed program is therefore a win-win solution to all parties involved. Moreover, the software architecture and website format will be wireless-friendly thus designing the service in such a way that consumers will later be able to easily use it via cellular phones and other personal wireless devices

E-commerce continues to accelerate and the amount of money spent on purchases made through the Internet shows no sign of decline. During the past holiday season (November 20 to December 19), retailers saw online revenues quadruple, jumping 300% to about $11 billion and far exceeding expectations, according to a study by Shop.org and Boston Consulting Group. The study of 30 retailers in such categories as apparel, books and music, home and garden, specialty foods and electronics showed a 270% growth in the number of orders. The study indicated that online sales were growing at 145% annually and it projected online retailer revenues of more than $36 billion for last year. An earlier study conducted by Ernst & Young, before the holiday frenzy, already estimated that total revenues for online retail and consumer products for the calendar year just completed were around $25-30 billion. Currently, the average rate of returns for Internet-based companies is 9%. In the coming year the value of returned merchandise was $1.5 billion. This indicates an amazing opportunity.

Competition`

The company foresees three types of competition for the services we offer: Direct

If we prove successful, others will follow. Our most worrisome competition would be combining delivery and/or courier services, like something of this type owned or partnered with UPS or FEDEX. 

The first competitors to the new service are the online retailers themselves. Since NoHassleReturn.com will need to strike partnerships and strategic agreements with retailers in order to offer its services, they are classified as internal competitors. 

With NoHassleReturn.com, at least one selling opportunity will be given to retailers while consumer is on the Web–something a partnership with a carrier cannot provide. Moreover, serving as a demand aggregator NoHassleReturn.com should be able to arrange necessary agreements and provide consumers with greatly reduced, or even free, shipping for all returned merchandise.

Thinking in reverse to the previous paragraph, service providers such as Mail Boxes Etc. and PostNet may try to forge strategic partnerships with numerous online retailers to simplify the return process. 

Our mission is to enhance customer service of online merchants, boost their customer retention and increase their sales. We strive to improve the overall image of the online merchant and therefore stimulate growth of online shopping. We put our efforts to increase customer satisfaction when consumers deal with retailers, to enhance the interaction process when retailers communicate with consumers, and to streamline the problem resolution order in all possible ways.

Expectations

NoHassleReturn.com’s financials are conservative yet quite promising. Once they are up and running and sign up some merchants as customers, NoHassleReturn.com will quickly gain momentum and generate impressive sales. 

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

We need $50,000 to start. We will get that from the two owners to start $25,000 each.

Problem & Solution

Problem worth solving, our solution.

NoHassleReturn.com is an e-commerce start-up company positioning itself to become the market leader in offering online merchants and consumers a uniform and trouble-free way to return merchandise purchased online. The company offers a business-to-business solution to online merchants of physical, non-perishable products. The company utilizes a consolidation approach in handling all product returns that allows online merchants to instantly save bad sales, restore customer satisfaction and stimulate repeat sales, while offering consumers a convenient, centralized online location to claim returns. By creating a new service category and utilizing the first-mover advantage, NoHassleReturn.com positions itself for rapid growth and gains a strong opportunity to raise entry barriers for possible competition.

Target Market

Market size & segments.

E-commerce continues to accelerate and the amount of money spent on purchases made through the Internet shows no sign of decline. During the holiday season (November 20 to December 19), retailers saw online revenues quadruple, jumping 300% to about $11 billion and far exceeding expectations, according to a study by Shop.org and Boston Consulting Group. The study of 30 retailers in such categories as apparel, books and music, home and garden, specialty foods and electronics showed a 270% growth in the number of orders. The study indicated that online sales were growing at 145% annually and it projected online retailer revenues of more than $36 billion for 1999. An earlier study conducted by Ernst & Young, before the holiday frenzy, already estimated that total revenues for online retail and consumer products for the calendar year 1999 were around $25-30 billion.

While a notable amount of positive publicity about the Internet shopping has recently appeared in the media, the number of problems encountered by online shoppers actually increased more dramatically than the sales figures. According to a poll conducted by WebAssured.com, the number of complaints filed between November 25, 1999 and January 13, 2000 was up 404% over the same period last year. Over 62% of the respondents claimed they had experienced at least one problem with an online transaction. Misrepresentation/misinformation and delivering defective products each accounted for at least 22% of all complaints. In the breakdown of types of problems occurred, delivery of a wrong item accounted for 17.2%. These kind of problems ultimately result in product returns that cause additional costs to the consumers and both costs and lost revenues to the retailers.

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When a wrong, defective, or misrepresented item was delivered to a consumer, the return process often proved uneasy. According to recent findings by PC Data Online, 30% of all consumers who returned items found the return process difficult. It is apparent that existing return procedures are inadequate and sometimes irritating. The solution, however, does not lie in forcing all online retailers to establish a "no-questions-asked" return policy and to post it clearly at the top of their websites. The entire sequence a consumer has to follow, starting from looking up the procedures on the Web and then having to make a trip to UPS or the Post Office, has to be streamlined. There is clearly a need, as well as an opportunity, for a new service company to improve the overall return process for online shoppers. As a result, the consumer satisfaction will be enhanced and it will translate into increased repeat sales for online retailers.

Market Segmentation

As stated in the previous section, the estimated online retail revenues were around $25-36 billion. Both sources providing the estimates indicated that only merchants selling physical products (books, CDs, electronics, apparel, etc.) were included in the breakdown by category. No mention was made of services such as online hotel reservations, news subscriptions, or online brokerage being included in the total figures. However, it would be advisable to use a more conservative approach when estimating the total revenues of online merchandise sales. Presented below are estimates for Internet retail sales made by National Retail Federation shortly after the 1998 holiday season.

Competition

Current alternatives.

Direct Competitors

Based on the current intelligence, there is no independent company out there specializing in a "returned merchandise" service to online consumers. No single company is known to be employing a concept of establishing a single point of presence on the Internet for consumers to claim returns. The current situation allows the new company to gain the first-mover advantage and build entry barriers for any possible new entrants.

Internal Competitors

The first competitors to the new service are the online retailers themselves. Since NoHassleReturn.com will need to strike partnerships and strategic agreements with retailers in order to offer its services, they are classified as internal competitors. Retailers may perceive that their internal return procedures are adequate and fully meet customer demands. However, the discussion under the Need Assessment section of this plan clearly indicated that there are significant drawbacks and shortcomings in the return process across the entire industry. Even companies like Amazon.com that touts a quick and easy return policy now sees its customers go to Barnes & Noble superstores to return books. Partnering with brick-and-mortar retailers may be seen as a solution by some e-tailers. However, from the consumer perspective, there still will not be a centralized location to return merchandise, no quick and easy return procedure, and no savings on shipping costs. Consumers may end up having to go from one physical retailer to another to return various items.

Online retailers may try to partner with carriers and service providers such as UPS, Mail Boxes Etc., or Rite Express. Reportedly, eBay.com is working out an agreement with Mail Boxes Etc. to appoint them as a preferred/exclusive service for product returns. eBay.com may receive rebates per shipment for directing its clients to Mail Boxes Etc., but consumers again will have little or no benefit. The standard shipping rates are applied, the choice of carriers is now limited, and online merchants are not informed about product returns ahead of time so that bad sales could be saved. With NoHassleReturn.com, at least one selling opportunity will be given to retailers while consumer is on the Web–something a partnership with a carrier cannot provide. Moreover, serving as a demand aggregator NoHassleReturn.com should be able to arrange necessary agreements and provide consumers with greatly reduced, or even free, shipping for all returned merchandise.

 Channel Competitors

Thinking in reverse to the previous paragraph, service providers such as Mail Boxes Etc. and PostNet may try to forge strategic partnerships with numerous online retailers to simplify the return process. But as it was described, online retailers will be shortchanged in overall customer satisfaction, information exchange, total costs, and additional selling opportunities. Consumers, on the other hand, will lose out on the limited number of "exclusive" carriers for particular retailers, and uniform simplicity in the return process will not be achieved. Moreover, both Mail Boxes Etc. and PostNet combined do not have sufficient physical presence in the market.

Carriers such as UPS and FedEx may try to enter the arena. Those organizations have extensive networks of facilities, experience in shipping, and a track record of quality. The U.S. Postal Service has recently started a TV advertising campaign of a service for online merchants that allows consumers to print return labels online. This is a step towards addressing the shipping end of the return problem, but it falls short of saving bad sales and creating new selling opportunities for merchants. No single shipping company can fully provide the range of benefits the proposed company can. NoHassleReturn.com will be able to arrange strategic alliances with numerous carriers and even play one against the other in negotiating rate reductions and preferential service terms for both merchants and consumers. Being a smaller company with a focus on the e-commerce community, it will also have a greater degree of flexibility in adjusting to customer needs.

Our Advantages

At NoHassleReturn.com, we feel we provide a value-added service to a variety of consumers. By having a safe and easy-to-use return service, the company benefits more people than simply the average customer.

Merchants Advantages

  • Increase revenues! NoHassleReturn.com turns the systemic problem of product returns into new selling opportunities.
  • Enhance customer satisfaction and retention with the quick and easy return process and boost repeat sales! NoHassleReturn.com provides the opportunity to instantly deal with returns, save bad sales, and turn unhappy customers into loyal patrons.
  • Improve customer service with a simple, trouble-free way to return merchandise! NoHassleReturn.com makes it easy for consumers to return products and follow return procedures.
  • Simplify the shipping hassle for consumers! NoHassleReturn.com provides the option to print a shipping label since pre-printed labels sometimes get lost or misplaced, which provides added convenience and peace of mind to consumers.
  • Improve inventory management and logistics! NoHassleReturn.com immediately alerts you when your customer initiates the return process so that you can act on it right then, not when the merchandise arrives at your door.
  • Fine-tune your internal efficiencies and product offerings! NoHassleReturn.com provides you with invaluable new data on all your product returns by customer group, product category, etc., so you can analyze your operations better.
  • Enhance your image! NoHassleReturn.com underscores your customer orientation, which you can use to promote your business.

Consumers Advantages

  • Return merchandise with ease! NoHassleReturn.com provides one centralized online location with a simple and trouble-free way to return merchandise in just a few easy steps.
  • Buy online, return online! No need to call in or email your merchant if authorization is required–NoHassleReturn.com does the communication for you.
  • No need to look up every single merchant for return policies every time! NoHassleReturn.com summarizes it for your particular item and makes sure the return time frames are followed.
  • Generate a shipping label! NoHassleReturn.com generates a shipping label for you so that you do not have to worry about misplacing the pre-printed label or spending extra time at a shipping company’s counter if the pre-printed label is not included.
  • Reduce or eliminate shipping costs! Through strategic alliances, NoHassleReturn.com reduces or completely eliminates the cost of shipping.
  • Keep track of your returns! If you would like, NoHassleReturn.com will remind you to ship the claimed item and will maintain a file of your returns for your records.
  • Increase awareness in the community! NoHassleReturn.com serves as a "returned merchandise credit bureau," providing discrete information to consumers on merchants and to merchants on consumers.
  • Cross reference marketing leads! NoHassleReturn.com maintains a database of purchases that help custom-target online buyers in a more efficient way.
  • Improve the overall image of the online merchant! NoHassleReturn.com enhances customer service of online merchants and overall customer satisfaction by simplifying and streamlining the return process.

Keys to Success

In order for the company to operate, a number of specific ingredients are needed. Following are things to put in place before the service can be offered.

  • Retrieve all pertinent information on a participating merchant.
  • Match appropriate return procedures against the returning item.
  • Present procedures to the consumer in the most concise format.
  • Provide reference to the merchant’s entire return policies if requested.
  • Inform the merchant of the entire transaction as it occurs.
  • Gain authorization from the merchant to return merchandise if needed.
  • Present the merchant’s website to consumer for selling opportunities.
  • Provide confirmation emails to the customer of the actions taking place if requested.
  • Interact with the merchant’s database for further customer details if needed.
  • Maintain a record of the transactions for the company’s own database.
  • Develop successful relationships with online merchants to facilitate exchange of information.
  • Develop strategic alliances with online merchants, shipping companies, and credit card issuers to negotiate reduction or elimination of the shipping costs to consumers on returned merchandise.
  • Design, maintain, and promote a user-friendly website, the corporate trademark, that offers an easy and trouble-free merchandise return procedure for consumers.

Marketing & Sales

Marketing plan.

Because the company’s service is a business-to-business program, it will be initially promoted to online merchants by direct sales force. Personal selling will be necessary to reach decision makers within online organizations. At first, contacts will be made with Internet service providers, such as America Online, that host online stores and shops. America Online claims to have 20% of the total Internet service provider market in the U.S. Therefore, arranging a strategic partnership where NoHassleReturn.com becomes the preferred or exclusive choice for all returned merchandise bought at AOL.com shops will be invaluable for establishing a well-recognized brand and building up entry barriers for any possible competition. Ideally, a company’s banner with a notation "For an Easy, Trouble-Free Product Return Click Here" will be visibly displayed throughout the shopping section of AOL.com. Portals such as Yahoo! will be approached as well. Reportedly, Yahoo! hosts nearly 6,000 merchants where it charges each merchant at least $100 to $300 per month. Arranging a strategic partnership with Yahoo! will provide a strong leverage in negotiating return contracts with individual merchants. Similar to that of America Online, the company’s banner will be displayed throughout the entire shopping section of Yahoo!

Large online merchants such as Amazon.com and Buy.com will be targeted by the direct sales force during the first stage as well. Those companies have already achieved significant volumes of sales–and therefore product returns–and will find the uniform return process of much benefit to them. Strong "category killers" such as eToys and CDnow are also first sales targets. Auction houses such as eBay.com and uBid.com will be approached with a service offer for products sold to consumers by merchants and direct manufacturers.

Wherever possible, smaller online retailers will be personally approached by the sales force. To stimulate awareness and service penetration among smaller players, industrial marketing techniques will be utilized. Those will include advertising in specialized publications such as Internet World and Red Herring, as well as referral fees for retailers who already use the service. Email campaigns will be used to reach decision makers at smaller companies. The email messages will have an invitation to the NoHassleReturn.com website where a specially designed presentation will explain the benefits of the new service. An invitation to be contacted by a service consultant to discuss details will be included.

The company plans to offer its services right before Thanksgiving 2000. In order to stimulate a quicker adoption of the services, the remainder of the year 2000 will be offered free of charge.

It is estimated that the initial expenses to hire a sales force and a customer service unit of up to five people during the first year will be close to $400,000. Another $200,000 will be needed for sales program development, marketing activities, and training (excludes advertising). The initial compensation package for sales force will include a nominal base salary and a progressive commission structure. This should ensure that during the early stage of the company’s growth not only that sales targets are met, but also that customer (customer here means merchant) satisfaction and retention are fully addressed. The sales force will initially be located at the corporate headquarters. A territorial approach will later be implemented, with sales people located in regions. After one year, sales force members will split into two distinct groups. The first group will include pure sales people, the "go-getters" who will be placed in regions and will work on pure commissions. The commission structure will become more progressive and rewarding for such individuals, including a bonus structure. The estimate for an average commission paid on sales is approximately 5-10%. The second group will include client care professionals who will concentrate on customer satisfaction and retention to ensure the continuity of the program. These individuals will remain at the headquarters and will have a base salary with a bonus structure. The base salary for client care professionals is in the mid-five figures. Industrial advertising and promotional expenses in 2000 are estimated at $250,000.

It is also a possibility to sell the services to merchants via the Internet hosting service providers, portals, and software developers. Those companies will then serve as distributors and agents, compensated on commissions. This approach will eliminate the need for a large sales force. The final layout will depend on how quickly agreements with companies such as America Online and Amazon.com are negotiated, how aggressively they will be able to promote the services, and on what conditions.

The following diagram describes the customer approach (customer here means merchant).

Service consultants are the direct sales force that approaches prospective customers with service offers. Once a customer has been signed, a service consultant will only approach the client with new service offers and product upgrades. A client care professional is then assigned to each customer to deal with all customer service issues. Each customer will be advised to direct all service inquiries to the professional. A professional will also proactively call on customers to ensure high quality of service and customer satisfaction. The consultants and professionals will have direct communication lines between themselves to ensure open information exchange and a quick and efficient problem-resolution culture. This structure will guarantee an aggressive sales approach, client-oriented service, and efficient post-sales support.

NoHassleReturn.com will strive to eliminate the shipping costs to consumers by means of strategic agreements with online merchants, shipping companies, and credit card companies. As stated in the last quote, 58% of all product returns were due to merchants’ faults, hence merchants will have to reimburse shipping costs to consumers in those cases. NoHassleReturn.com therefore proposes that 65% of a given shipping cost should be allocated to corresponding merchants. Due to demand aggregation, the company will be able to negotiate a shipping rate discount with companies such as UPS or FedEx. Hence 20% of shipping costs should be allocated to shipping companies in a form of a discount. Credit card issuers such as Chase and BancOne currently offer a 5% rebate to consumers on purchases with selected online merchants. It is therefore feasible to arrange an agreement with credit card companies and/or issuers to include a 5% shipping cost rebate on all returned merchandise. Since product returns are only 9% of all purchases, it will not represent a large cost to credit card companies to add this differentiating feature to their products. These allocations in total will cover 90% of the shipping cost. The remaining 10% will be absorbed by NoHassleReturn.com via a special "instant rebate."

NoHassleReturn.com will charge merchants a program fee that will average only 0.5% of a given merchant’s total sales. Also, the company will charge a low per-claim fee of 12% of each item’s listed price (each item that has been claimed through the company’s website). However, of the 12% charged per item, up to 4% will be instantly given back to merchants to cover the remaining portion of the shipping cost. The previous table indicates that the 4% rebate is sufficient to cover the remainder of the shipping cost in the first product category. It is actually far more than sufficient in other product categories (refer to ASC Coverage Ratio). NoHassleReturn.com can then decide whether to offer merchants a reimbursement of the remaining portion of shipping costs only or a flat 4% "instant rebate" regardless of shipping costs. For the purpose of this business plan and financial projections, a flat 4% "instant rebate" was used thus reducing the per-claim fee from 12% to 8% across the board.

As it was stated in a prior chapter, retailers should see an average sales increase of at least 15% due to the service offered by the company. On the other hand, based on the proposed pricing structure the service should not cost merchants more than 1.5% of their total revenues. The cost-benefit ratio of 10 will be a strong promotional point for NoHassleReturn.com.

While it is a possibility to charge merchants commissions on all sales made through the company’s website (when consumers claim their returns), it would not capture all sales stimulated by the company. The program will increase consumer satisfaction and loyalty. However, when consumers start buying more due to the program’s effect but dealing directly with the merchant, the company will not receive any commissions and will in effect be giving its services away for free. Hence both fees charged should fully reflect the benefits of the easy-return procedure, early information on all returning items, restored customer satisfaction, selling opportunities created during the claim process, and all repeat sales thereafter.

The company also plans to draw revenues from advertising on its website, but for the purpose of this business plan advertising revenues will be considered negligible. A fee/rebate agreement may be arranged with such companies as UPS and Mail Boxes Etc. for bringing customers to them for shipping needs. Other revenue generating activities such as affiliate programs with VISA, American Express, or Citibank can be arranged to promote certain credit cards as a preferred method of payment online. Those revenues will also be omitted in the financial projections. Once the company has generated a sufficient customer database, it may also market information to retailers and other organizations for a fee. Any fees and payments NoHassleReturn.com could generate from consulting activities in the field of product returns will not be included in the financial projections either.

The service positioning in the eyes of online merchants is imperative to the success of the enterprise. The service proposed by the company is a business-to-business solution offered to online merchants of physical, non-perishable products. However, because online consumers will deal directly with the company via its website, the proposed solution also incorporates some features of a business-to-consumer service. It is therefore of utmost importance to clearly define what this company offers is a customer service & customer satisfaction program for online merchants. The most unique feature is that the proposed company takes the systemic problem of product returns and turns it into new selling opportunities for online merchants.

It is also important to note that NoHassleReturn.com does not try to position itself as a competitor to any incumbents with a similar service, online merchants, or shipping companies. The proposed company strives to position itself as a strategic partner to all parties participating in handling product returns. If nothing else, NoHassleReturn.com should be viewed as an outsourcing company to online merchants with the core competency and focus in handling returned merchandise.

The service offered by NoHassleReturn.com is designed to enhance customer retention and loyalty by offering an easy and trouble-free merchandise return process to online shoppers. According to Jupiter Communications, the goal of the 1999 holiday season was not about generating impressive sales, but rather securing long-term relationships. Retailers now need to focus on retention and loyalty. NoHassleReturn.com will help to achieve just that through establishing lasting, productive relationships with online merchants. Providing an easy, uniform, and trouble-free return process to all online shoppers will enhance the overall image of online merchants. While the number of retailers continues to grow, consumers will not have to look up every single one to find out about return policies and later keep abreast for possible changes. A centralized Internet location–the company’s website–will retrieve, summarize, and present the appropriate policies. Based on product information, it will make sure the correct procedures are used. The company’s banner with a notation "For an Easy, Trouble-Free Product Return Click Here" will be placed visibly on retailers’ websites and will serve as a symbol of customer orientation and care.

Moreover, the shipping process will be streamlined. Customers will be able to generate a shipping label on the company’s website thus reducing the hassle at the shipper’s counter. Although some online retailers already supply pre-printed shipping labels for sold items, customers sometimes lose, or throw away, those labels when they first see and like the products they ordered. Shortly after they may change their mind and would like to return a particular item, but the label is gone. With the proposed program, the label is always available online so that consumers can have peace of mind and also reduce the amount of documents they need to keep just in case. The service therefore offers a dual benefit to consumers. The retailers may then choose to stop including a pre-printed return label with every outgoing shipment thus reducing costs of selling. From a shipping company’s perspective, the shipping process is streamlined because the online-generated label will have all the necessary information, possibly including a tracking number if it is going to be shipped by UPS. That way consumers do not have to spend time at UPS counters filling out forms–both a customer service and operations improvement for UPS. NoHassleReturn.com will be a strategic merger between online merchants, carriers, and their partners targeted at overall improvement of customer satisfaction and ultimately the bottom line of merchants.

Another important feature of NoHassleReturn.com is that shipping of returned merchandise should be free of charge to consumers. (Means of achieving it are discussed in more detail in the Pricing and Revenue Generation section.) This differentiating feature will tremendously increase the consumer acceptance factor of the proposed service. The fact that products purchased online can be returned in an easy and trouble-free way, and that shipping is also free, will help expand the entire online shopping industry. The added convenience and peace of mind consumers will gain with NoHassleReturn.com will translate into more shopping with those online merchants that participate in the NoHassleReturn.com program.

When customers go through the sequence of online entries on the company’s website, the retailer whose product is being claimed for return will be offered at least one selling opportunity. At the end of the sequence the retailer will be able to target the consumer with any new sales offers as its website will appear onscreen. Should an exchange or replacement be preferred by the customer during the online return process, the retailer will receive an additional selling opportunity as its website will appear with offers during that step. These opportunities will translate into more sales for retailers. This will also stimulate customer retention, which means repeat sales. All in all, the program will increase customer satisfaction and generate more sales.

The program has a number of unique features. First, it alerts the retailer that a particular customer is claiming a particular product for return as it happens. That way the retailer knows about it as it occurs and not when the merchandise arrives at its warehouse. This allows to plan ahead. Since 9% of all products are returned, this feature offers useful information to better handle logistics and inventory.

Secondly, and more importantly, by asking consumers during the online sequence why they want to return a particular item merchants gain an invaluable piece of information. If the reason for return is defective product (30% of all reported returns), the retailer can save the sale and turn an unhappy customer into a delighted one by sending a new item right away. If the reason for return is wrong color, wrong size, or wrong product altogether (28% of all reported returns), the retailer may choose to send the correct product right then, thus instantly restoring customer satisfaction and saving a bad sale. It will be up to the retailer to decide on payment and credit terms of the exchange. These benefits ultimately translate into increased customer retention, reduced costs, more sales, and improved bottom line.

It is estimated that the program will generate an average sales increase for merchants of at least 15%. Online shopping is still at the early stage of consumer adoption. As stated earlier, about half the people who have not shopped online cited the cost and hassle of returns as a significant factor for not shopping online. Another recent survey found that 89% of online buyers said that return policies influenced their decision to shop with an online retailer. Consumers demand not only convenience but peace of mind. The proposed program offers both and it should increase the number of online shoppers, thus causing a market expansion for online merchants. The first retailers who implement the proposed program will also be able to differentiate themselves and capture a larger market share in their respective segments. Once embraced by the majority of online merchants, the program will become an industry standard.

It is important to note that during the entire process the company will not ask for, or try to gain access to, consumers’ credit card numbers. This will significantly limit possible liabilities and security/confidentiality concerns.

Milestones & Metrics

Milestones table, key metrics.

Our Key Metrics: 

  • Active clients
  • Active client leads
  • Monitor Facebook and Twitter and reach out to customers who tweet at us or about us
  • Easy to understand website and have a online chat and telephone number for questions 
  • # of referrals from strategic alliances 
  • # of customer who use us month after month 
  • # of returns handled and from which company 
  • cost of processing returns, make it as streamlined and well thought out as possible 

Ownership & Structure

Those activities that are not crucial to the corporate success (i.e. payroll) will be outsourced or subcontracted. Below are brief summaries of major responsibilities for corporate officers.

  • Board of Directors : oversees the overall strategic direction and progress of the company. Specific areas include operational soundness, financial stability, and long-term well-being of the corporation.
  • President : responsibilities include strategic guidance of the enterprise, exploration of expansion opportunities, and strategic alliance facilitation and management.
  • Chief Executive Officer : the main responsibility is to maintain a strategic fit between the corporate resources and external factors. Responsibilities include running of the overall day-to-day operations, technological and operational soundness, and financial stability.
  • Director of Finance and Operations : responsibilities include financial oversight, safeguarding of assets, and human resources management.
  • Director of Information Technology : responsibilities include overall technological efficiency, software development, and information control.
  • Director of Sales and Marketing : responsibilities include sales generation, marketing programs development, and public relations.

Management Team

There are two principals that are responsible for the idea and the progress of the firm up. They recognize as the companies quickly grows, certain positions such as CEO and CFO will need to be filled. The company was founded by Steve Logic and Dan Codder. Steve has spent the last ten years at Federal Express. While at FedEx, Steve was responsible for their logistics system. Steve has the incredible skill of perceiving business needs and creating a solution to address the need. At FedEx, Steve was the architect behind their benchmarked logistic system that has the ability to track customer packages and share the information with the client. What this meant for FedEx is that they could tell the customer exactly where their package is at any one point. This logistics system is the main driver behind FedEx’s exponential growth. Dan Codder is a twenty-year veteran in the computer industry. Self taught, Dan has worked at IBM, Cadence, Tektronix, and several other companies. Dan has the ability to design and write computer code very quickly and accurately. NoHassleReturn.com will leverage Dan’s skills for the completion of their customer service software engine.

Personnel Table

Financial plan investor-ready personnel plan .">, key assumptions.

  • $4.1 million investment
  • Status quo in market developments related to returns as part of traditional commerce is online commerce.
  • Competition as we foresee it in the plan. 

Revenue by Year

Net profit (or loss) by year, use of funds.

START-UP REQUIREMENTS

Start-up Expenses

Stationery etc. $50

Brochures $450

Insurance $100

Research and development $400

Expensed equipment $1,100

TOTAL START-UP EXPENSES $3,000

Sources of Funds

The two co-owners will each contribute $25,000, for a total startup of $50,000. 

The plan depends on $4.1 million investment in the first month. 

Projected Profit & Loss

Projected balance sheet, projected cash flow statement.

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Business Plan E-commerce : Guide complet 2022 et modèle PDF gratuit à télécharger !

Business Plan E-commerce : Guide complet 2022 et modèle PDF gratuit à télécharger !

Vous souhaitez sauter le pas et vous lancer dans l’aventure e-commerce pour vendre en ligne mais ne savez pas vraiment par où commencer. Business plan, seuil de rentabilité, budget prévisionnel, compte de résultat, fonds de roulement… sont des éléments qui vous semblent compliqués ? Voici tous nos conseils pour vous assurer un démarrage e-commerce optimisé !

Tout d’abord, sachez que le lancement d’un e-commerce est une étape clé. Un faible nombre d’employés et peu d’investissements ne signifient pas que tout sera plus facile. Il faut penser avant tout "création d’entreprise" !

Si vous visez un chiffre d’affaires conséquent ou un taux de croissance fort grâce à un site accueillant un nombre important de potentiels clients uniques par jour, il faudra investir du temps et de l’argent. Commençons donc par le commencement : vous devez définir un plan incorporant l’ensemble prévisionnel de vos coûts (réalisation du site, agence marketing, publicité, etc), sur un document Excel par exemple. Voici tous nos conseils pour vous accompagner dans le lancement de votre site e-commerce !

Faire un bon business plan : comment et pourquoi ?

L’une des erreurs que font régulièrement les e-commerçants en herbe, c’est d’investir beaucoup trop de temps dans l’établissement d'un modèle de business plan et de l’argent dans le lancement de leur site.

Avant même de démarrer la réalisation de ce fichier comprenant votre budget prévisionnel, il convient de tester le potentiel de votre offre, de votre produit en vente, toutes les hypothèses et tous vos objectifs.

Une étude de marché, la plus précise qui soit (clientèle, besoin, dépenses, prix moyen, budget, offre, taux de croissance, sites concurrents…), ne pourra pas répondre formellement à la question de la viabilité de votre projet de vente de produits en ligne.

Ainsi, avant même de vous lancer dans l'étape rédaction, vous devez vous assurer que votre business plan, vos hypothèses et votre offre soient viables et rentables. Pour cela, vous pouvez créer une 1ère version de votre e-commerce avec de faibles coûts.

Avec la solution e-commerce WiziShop , vous avez 3 jours d’essai gratuits (puis 1 € le premier mois) pour préparer votre e-commerce et commencer à vendre vos produits. WiziShop se charge de toute la partie technique. La plateforme vous propose également un accompagnement par des business coach, une IA d'aide disponible 24h/7j et une formation e-commerce complète offerte (démarrage du ou des sites, ajout produit, prix de vente, offre promotionnelle, acquisition SEO, SEA, rédaction, etc).

Avec cette 1ère version de votre e-shop, vous allez pouvoir analyser les premiers retours de potentiels clients. Rien de mieux pour la mise en place de votre présentation d'activité qu’une étude de cas basée sur des analyses concrètes !

Testez WiziShop gratuitement pendant 3 jours

Pourquoi faire un business plan de site internet ?

En travaillant sur un site marchand , vous pouvez rencontrer un certain nombre de problématiques telles que : le positionnement, la rentabilité, les cibles visées, les moyens… Avant de penser aux méthodes de gestion de votre entreprise, il faut parfois penser à faire adhérer les investisseurs à votre projet. Soyez-en certains, l’adhésion des investisseurs ne se fera pas sans un business plan bien ficelé.

Beaucoup d'entrepreneurs redoutent cette étape. Fastidieux, précis, pointilleux... Vous n'avez pas le droit à l'erreur lors de cette étape cruciale du démarrage de votre activité.

Bien que cet exercice soit perçu comme une montagne difficile à gravir, pour simplifier la tâche, il vous faudra suivre quelques éléments clés. Heureusement, nous sommes là pour vous aider sur le sujet en vous aiguillant vers des solutions simples et un processus précis.

Savoir présenter son projet (sur PowerPoint ou sur Excel par exemple)

Depuis le temps que vous y pensez, vous maîtrisez parfaitement votre sujet. N’oubliez pas cependant que si votre projet vous semble clair, il n’en va pas de même pour tout le monde. Vous devez être en mesure de faire comprendre votre projet à tout intervenant. Votre plan d'action va donc traduire votre projet de manière précise aux yeux de tous.

Cela sous entend que votre projet de e-commerce soit déjà assez précis. Il ne sert à rien d’entamer un business plan si votre projet est encore au stade embryonnaire. Au sein de votre modèle de présentation, il va falloir énoncer les objectifs de votre futur e-commerce.

Une fois que vous commencez à dessiner les contours de votre parcours de futur entrepreneur, vous pouvez petit à petit noter les grandes lignes de votre activité à venir. La clé de votre travail préliminaire sera de mettre en forme votre avenir : l'écriture et la construction de votre concept seront au centre de votre attention.

Quelles sont vos forces ? Vos faiblesses ? Vos prix par rapport à la concurrence ? Quelle stratégie souhaitez-vous mettre en place pour votre communication ? Quels sont vos objectifs ? Mais avant tout : quelle est votre cible et quels seraient vos concurrents ?

Comme pour les autres types de commerce, une boutique en ligne doit savoir à qui elle s'adresse. Votre e-commerce est-il réservé à des particuliers ou des professionnels ? À une zone géographique particulière ? À une catégorie socio professionnelle ? Votre business Plan doit être capable de répondre à cette question.

Toutes les questions et toutes les réponses doivent faire l'objet de différents fichiers que vous allez constituer afin de bâtir un plan solide. Powerpoint, Word, Excel ou tout autre support seront les bienvenus pour soutenir vos idées et mettre en forme vos réflexions.

Votre présentation doit mettre en lumière un dernier aspect, et non des moindres, de votre futur e-commerce : son organisation. La gestion d’une boutique en ligne ne se limite pas à attendre les nouvelles commandes de ses clients : il faut un site fini, attirant, correctement référencé, souvent actualisé… Il doit donc définir qui sera en charge de quoi et par quels moyens.

Savoir chiffrer ses besoins

La rédaction d’un business plan pour un e-shop s’adresse avant tout aux investisseurs. Un simple cahier des charges reste suffisant pour un e-commerce qui n’a pas de besoin de financement immédiat.

Taux de croissance, cout moyen, prix, budget, hypothèses... Cette partie va consister à traduire de manière chiffrée les éléments décrits dans la présentation de votre projet. Il y a finalement assez peu de chiffres à renseigner dans le business plan d’un futur e-commerce, mais l’estimation de ces chiffres n’est pas un exercice aisé.

Dans un premier temps, il va falloir répertorier les coûts nécessaires à la réalisation de votre e-commerce : ces coûts comprennent principalement le lancement de votre site, les premiers stocks, les coûts d’hébergement et les formalités de votre société. Une fois la valeur totale de création de votre e-commerce connu, il va falloir s’intéresser à son financement : combien êtes-vous en mesure d’apporter et quelle somme devez-vous emprunter ?

Établir des prévisions d’activité de votre future boutique en ligne est un exercice beaucoup plus complexe. En effet, au moment du business plan, il est très difficile d’estimer correctement le montant de vente que réalisera votre e-commerce. Ces estimations doivent rester cohérentes avec le type d'article vendu, le choix de la cible, la stratégie adoptée, par rapport à votre secteur.

Créer une entreprise et gérer une boutique en ligne n’est donc pas une chose aisée. Il faut suivre un cheminement pertinent, tout en ayant une visibilité limitée. Pendant et après la rédaction, il faut toujours penser à votre trafic (recevoir un maximum d'utilisateurs) et à la conversion des utilisateurs (pour les transformer en client).

Cette partie trafic ne doit pas être laissée au second plan mais doit faire partie intégrante de votre comptabilité d'origine. Cette acquisition de trafic se découpe en plusieurs activités et dépenses :

  • Trafic gratuit, sans achat : SEO, réseaux sociaux, email marketing, SMS marketing, etc. ;
  • Trafic payant au coût par clic (CPC) : Ads sur les réseaux sociaux, SEA (Google Adwords par exemple), achat de liens, contenus promus, comparateurs ;
  • Trafic payant au coût par mille (CPM) : emailing de masse, display, etc. ;
  • Trafic payant au coût par action (CPA) : affiliation, etc.

Tous ces éléments doivent faire partie de votre plan afin de ne jamais être pris au dépourvu mais aussi pour montrer à vos futurs partenaires votre sérieux ainsi que la fiabilité de votre concept.

Le business plan d'un site : présentations, client type et étude de marché

Dans un premier temps, faisons la différence entre business model et business plan :

  • Le business model – ou modèle économique - est, pour faire simple, le concept qui va apporter de l’argent à une entreprise. C’est, la plupart du temps, un document exposant la logique d’ensemble de la société.
  • Le business plan – ou plan d’affaire - est composé de plusieurs pages. Il explique la totalité du projet d’une entreprise ou d’un entrepreneur en reprenant de nombreux points : activité, clientèle, marketing, gestion des ressources humaines, etc. C’est la mise en page plus complète et évoluée du business model .

Votre business plan doit se rédiger selon différentes sections :

La présentation de l’équipe

Pour effectuer votre audit, vous devez, dans un premier temps, présenter votre société, notamment le personnel impliqué.

  • Présentation du porteur de projet e-commerce
  • Présentation du personnel de son entreprise avec une hiérarchie. Pour lancer efficacement votre projet, il est d’ailleurs primordial de bien recruter.

Pensez à mettre en avant les compétences de chacun, résumez leur CV, exposez la complémentarité de votre troupe !

La présentation de votre catalogue sur le web

C’est tout simplement la section la plus importante. C’est dans cette partie que vous devez être attractif, convainquant et montrer que votre projet e-commerce en vaut la chandelle ! Elle va déterminer si oui ou non, votre projet est viable et rentable.

Dans l’élaboration de cette partie, vous devez répondre à 4 points :

  • Quel est votre projet ? : « Mon projet est… »
  • Que vendez-vous ? : « Mon produit est… »
  • Pourquoi va-t-il être rentable ? Quel est son potentiel ? Comment allez-vous fidéliser vos prospects ? Vous devez évaluer la situation : « Il a un fort potentiel car…. »
  • De combien avez-vous besoin pour monter votre plateforme e-commerce ? Vous devez estimer la trésorerie nécessaire : « Au niveau financier,… »

La présentation du marché

Cette partie va démontrer le potentiel de votre projet e-commerce. Construire une étude est indispensable pour afficher votre positionnement, même si vous êtes une boutique en ligne ! Vous devez répondre là aussi à plusieurs interrogations :

  • Quelle clientèle ciblez-vous et pourquoi ? Pour définir facilement vos prospects, mettez en avant les caractéristiques démographiques et les habitudes d’achats de vos consommateurs potentiels (homme/femme; en ligne/en magasin…).
  • À quel besoin existant votre projet répond-il ? Vous devez analyser et faire ressortir l’ensemble des facteurs qui vont influencer l’achat de vos articles ou services. Pourquoi votre cible va-t-elle acheter chez vous et non chez vos concurrents ? Vous devez structurer efficacement cette section car elle va vous positionner en tant qu’expert dans votre domaine. Elaborez un vrai plan d’attaque !
  • Qui sont vos concurrents ? Vous devez analyser la taille, la cible et les offres de la concurrence (fidélisation, promotion, etc). C’est avec ces éléments que l’investisseur va déterminer vos forces.
  • Avez-vous fait des études qualitatives et quantitatives ? Cette partie est aussi importante pour un projet de création d’entreprise, de marque ou pour un e-commerce. Vous devez générer des résultats d’enquêtes précis de vos prospects potentiels. Le questionnaire permettra d’apporter des réponses quantitatives. L’entretien, lui, vous apportera des réponses qualitatives.
  • La taille et l’évolution du marché : prouvez l’importance et le potentiel de croissance que vous désirez atteindre. Vous pouvez prévoir des hypothèses sur l’évolution de la société, des statistiques, des opportunités futures sur votre activité…

Encore un peu d’effort, l’accord du lancement de votre projet est tout proche !

Plan d’action et prévisions financières : financement et viabilité du projet de boutique en ligne

Établissez un plan d’action online.

Pour attirer un visiteur sur un site e-commerce, il y a diverses techniques que vous pouvez mettre en place dans votre plan d’action. Pour les détailler dans votre business plan, vous devez opter pour une approche bottom-up. Elle permet d’estimer vos ventes avec les actions marketing entreprises.

  • Le référencement payant : Placer votre site e-commerce en top position grâce à une campagne Adwords pour générer plus de trafic et de ventes. Cette méthode a pour but d’augmenter le trafic sur votre site, une tactique d’acquisition imparable ! Voilà la démarche à suivre pour retranscrire votre action marketing Adwords. Cette démarche est assez facile à expliquer dans votre business plan. Elle apportera de la crédibilité à votre projet :
  • Votre projet est un site e-commerce de compléments alimentaires. Google Adwords vous informe que pour une somme de 10€ / jour, vous aurez 25 clics sur le lien de votre site web soit environ 0,4€ le coût par clic moyen (CPC).
  • Vous pouvez maintenant calculer le nombre de visiteurs uniques / mois sur votre site e-commerce grâce à Adwords. En gardant les chiffres précédents, nous avons 25*30=750 visiteurs avec un budget de 300€ / mois car 0,4*750=300.
  • Mais parmi ces utilisateurs, combien vont acheter vos produits alimentaires ? Vous avez donc besoin d’un taux de conversion . Si votre boutique en ligne est déjà lancée, vous pouvez analyser vos données en toute simplicité. (cf. partie « Etudiez la viabilité de votre projet e-commerce« )
  • Prenons comme exemple un taux de conversion de 2% avec 750 visiteurs / mois : 750*2%=15 clients / mois.
  • Si vos compléments alimentaires coûtent 30€, votre chiffre d’affaires réalisé avec Adwords sera donc de 30×15=450€.
  • Le référencement naturel : Adopter une stratégie SEO, pour optimiser son site e-commerce, est un travail de longue haleine. Mais elle vous permettra de positionner votre site dans le top des résultats Google sur le long terme.

Pour financer votre activité, votre e-commerce ou votre société vous devez prévoir un plan de financement qui va permettre de convaincre, non pas avec des mots, mais avec des chiffres. Pièce centrale, c’est elle qui déterminera la viabilité de votre projet.

Définissez votre plan d'affaire

Créer son entreprise, sa marque ou sa boutique en ligne nécessite des investissements. Que ce soit de la part d’acteurs internes ou externes. Pour mener à bien votre projet, vous devez avoir un seul et même objectif : convaincre votre interlocuteur que votre site e-commerce va engranger des profits ! Comme je vous l’ai dit, créer une entreprise ou un site commerce sont des éléments très semblables. Voici la structure d’un business plan e-commerce :

  • Chiffre d’affaires généré par mois : pour le calculer, utilisez le taux de conversion, à savoir quand vos prospects se transforment en clients. Il est intéressant de savoir que seulement 0,5% à 5% du trafic d’un site internet, arrivent jusqu’à la confirmation de la commande. Grâce aux calculs effectués précédemment, avec un certain investissement publicitaire, que ce soit via Adwords ou l’affiliation, vous pourrez évaluer approximativement le nombre de visites / jour sur votre plateforme e-commerce. Avec ces données, vous aurez déjà la possibilité de mettre en place un chiffre d’affaires potentiel.
  • Marge brute et panier moyen : en moyenne, un client sur un site e-commerce achète 1 article. Dans cette partie, vous devez déterminer la valeur de vos ventes. Autrement dit, vous devez connaître vos données ! Toujours dans l’exemple du site de compléments alimentaires, voici comment connaître sa marge : Si j’achète un produit 20 € pour ensuite le revendre au prix de 40 €, j’aurai une différence de 20 €. Pour le moment, nous sommes d’accord ? Mais de cette marge, je vais devoir décompter la valeur de ma publicité, de mon site e-commerce, etc. En imaginant une marge de 30%, si mes produits valent en moyenne 40€ HT pièce, j’aurai donc 40*30% = 12 € HT. Si je réalise 2 commandes / jours, j’effectuerai 24€ de marge / jours, 720€ / mois et 8 640€ / an.
  • Charges fixes : ce sont des frais qu’il faut payer régulièrement (souvent par mois). Pour vous donner quelques exemples :
  • Coût de réalisation plateforme commerce
  • Coût des actions marketing et communication
  • Coût de l’hébergement
  • Fournitures diverses, etc.
  • Charges variables : ce sont des frais qui varient selon l’activité de l’entreprise. Pour vous donner quelques exemples :
  • Coût de distribution
  • Coût de main d’oeuvre
  • Coût dû aux problèmes commandes (colis volés, perdus)
  • Coût de commissions, etc.
  • Salaire(s) : Pour calculer vos dépenses salariales, multipliez par 2 le revenu net. Le résultat vous donnera la valeur totale des charges (charges salariales, environ 22%, et charges patronales, 42%).
  • Impôts et taxes diverses : Pour calculer les impôts et taxes diverses, il faut prendre en compte une contribution de 33% du bénéfice
  • Bénéfices : Pour définir vos bénéfices, déduisez toutes les charges de votre marge brute (salaires, fixes, variables,…).

Comment faire un business plan de site internet ?

Pour vous accompagner dans cette étape fatidique de votre projet de boutique en ligne, nous vous proposons d'établir un premier business plan préalable afin de vous positionner sur vos objectifs à venir.

En une seule page, vous pourrez répondre à toutes les questions centrales , nécessaires au démarrage d'une entreprise. Avec ce modèle de business plan gratuit en une page, vous pourrez commencer votre nouvelle vie professionnelle en toute simplicité. Suivez le guide (en format PDF) !

Téléchargez notre modèle de business plan et démarrez votre projet tout de suite !

Comme pour la création d'une entreprise, que ça soit une startup ou autre, vous lancer en tant qu’auto-entrepreneur dans un site e-commerce n’est pas une chose à faire à la légère. Les étapes sus-citées peuvent très bien être prises en compte par un auto-entrepreneur.

Grâce à l’ensemble de ces informations, vous allez pouvoir déterminer la viabilité de votre projet et estimer votre seuil de rentabilité. Il ne reste plus qu’a présenter votre business plan e-commerce à des investisseurs potentiels.

Julie Sansonetti

Julie Sansonetti est l'auteur de cet article

Julie est Web Content Specialist chez WiziShop. Passionnée par le digital, elle effectue une veille active sur le secteur et publie sur ce blog des conseils, des actualités et ses dernières trouvailles du web.

johanne le 20 janvier 2011 à 15:33

Yes yes yes! Enfiiiiiiiiiiiin! Un grand merci, vous venez de rendre ma vie plus simple avec ce superbe article et ses pièces jointes. Bravo et merci de penser à ceux qui démarrent!

eric le 17 mai 2017 à 17:23

n’oubliez pas la notion de « cash burn » un site ecommerce dans le meilleur des cas est rentable à partir de la 2è année et en attendant il faut faire face au besoin en trésorerie que les pertes génères

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  3. Business Plan E-commerce : Guide & Modèle pdf à télécharger

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  4. Modèle de business plan pour site e-commerce

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  5. e-Commerce Chapter 5 :E-commerce Business Models and Concepts

  6. Business Plan Guideline Series episode 3: Business Strategy

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