The Ultimate eCommerce Business Checklist
An eCommerce business checklist is the ultimate personal resource to stay on top of everything to do with your business, from day-to-day operations to information about your products. At this point, you’ve figured out what you want to sell and you can picture in your head exactly how you want your eCommerce online store to look like. And then you hit a wall because you’re not sure where to being. That’s why you need a business plan. Following this checklist to build your business plan will give you five advantages going forward. First, you’ll have research on your competitors that will inspire you to come up with unique solutions and products for your niche market. Second, detailing out the business structure will make it easier to see failings and holes in your thinking before you get too involved. Third, you will become more invested and knowledgeable in your audience and customer base. Fourth, it can help you and your team to all be on the same page. And finally, if you are going to be looking for funding, a business plan is often essential in order to apply.
This part of your business plan needs to answer what your business is and what you plan on doing with your business. All you need is a simple, concise answer for this section and that should be explanation enough. However, going into further detail can only help you with the planning and structuring of your business. So, things to include are the literal structure of your business (LLC vs. sole proprietor vs. partnership, etc.), as well as other basic information such as the starting date of your company. Discuss your business mission and values, and how you plan on fitting into the industry that you’re aiming at. Provide background information about yourself, your team, and your journey of coming to this point at creating an eCommerce business, and what your objectives are going forward. This point of your business plan will help you come back to the essentials moving forward; when making decisions, ask yourself how they fit into your business mission and values.
Including information about the industry you are breaking into requires a lot of doing your homework and researching your competitors. Don’t underestimate the importance of acquiring this data because it is going to influence a lot of your business decisions in the future. All of the information about your target industry you can find through search engines, or even sources on .gov sites, and online analytics and data providers. There are a few factors you need to determine when figuring out this portion of your business plan. First, the market size of the industry. Second, the current and upcoming trends in said industry. And third, the competition. Arguably, the competition is the most important of the three as well as the most overwhelming to detail so concentrate on a few things: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and competitors who are threats.
Your Marketing Plan
What good is a well thought out eCommerce online store if no one hears about it? That’s where your marketing plan comes into play. This is where you figure out exactly what kind of customer you are targeting. Ask yourself the following questions: What age are they? What’s their geographic location? What is their socioeconomic status (including the level of education)? What level of technology do they use? What do they do in their free time? When you begin answering these questions, you start to build a consumer profile that can help you with making marketing decisions in the future. Your marketing is going to look a lot different if you are selling to middle-aged men then if you are selling to college-age females. Develop an advertising plan that is complete with promotions/sales/discounts, etc.
Your Day-To-Day Operations
First things first, come up with your selling and distributing plan. Figure out whether you will need a supplier for a product that’s already made, or a manufacturer to create a product specifically for you. This is where you get your hands dirty and figure out the difficult details of actually producing, storing, and shipping a product. Although you have an online store, are you going to need a facility to store product? Are you going to be in charge of your own inventory and day-to-day operations, or do you need to hire a staff to help you manage your business? You also need to determine how you are going to be shipping your products. Do you want to personally handle the deliveries as orders come in, or would you rather use a third-party option to handle all processing and shipping?
The final portion of your business checklist is your financial plan. This portion is really only important if you are trying to acquire funding for your eCommerce business. However, it can still be helpful to develop this plan for yourself and your team so that everyone is on the same page about what you want for the business. The first section that needs to be included in your financial plan is your income statement. This is how you get to the bottom line or your expected profit. You need to list all anticipated costs and anticipated revenue and then reach your anticipated profit. The second section is your balance sheet; this simply (or not so simply) is a list of all your assets versus all of your liabilities (remember, this portion is important mainly when trying to get funding). The third portion is your cash flow statement, which is very similar to your income statement with the exception that it is detailing about when you’ll have cash on hand. This takes into account when you’ll be getting revenue versus when you’ll be needed to pay for costs such as third-party shipping or staffing costs.
And with the financial plan, comes the end of your business plan checklist. Whether or not you are applying for funding, and whether or not anyone besides you will see your comprehensive business plan, it is still an incredible asset for any eCommerce business owner. With a solidified business plan, you have something well thought out to refer back to when creating your online store, discussing with retailers or marketing teams, or expanding your business as you increase your revenue. If you found this eCommerce business checklist helpful, leave a comment below and share this article to your social media!