You know the feeling of having a great idea, a brilliant view of how it'll work, but no idea of where to begin to execute it?
If you have a promising idea for an online ecommerce business, that's great. But it’s important to know how you’ll transform your idea into reality. That's what business plans are for.
An ecommerce business plan is especially important, with an increasing number of shoppers conducting their business online. It's estimated this number has reached 1.92 billion. Having an ecommerce 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 ecommerce business plans and what goes into writing one using our free template.
Ecommerce Business Plan Examples
1. Maple Ecommerce Plan
This sample plan, provided on LinkedIn, is for a fictional company called Maple, an online store that sells exclusive Apple products. Maple's sample plan is great because it provides easy-to-follow charts and graphics while highlighting the most important information. For example, their market analysis included a SWOT plan for the business.
Outlining the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of Maple in this format is easy for potential investors to follow. Notating each value with a letter keeps the format consistent, which is carried throughout the plan. For businesses that find their information is best presented in graphics, Maple is a good plan to follow.
2. Nature's Candy Ecommerce Plan
Nature's Candy is an online retailer that provides nutritional supplements. Their business plan is available online and is helpful in seeing how businesses go from planning to execution. Below is a preview of their plan, in the financial forecasting section.
This example shows who will be on payroll in a yearly view giving investors an idea of how their investment will work in the long-term. Planning ahead also shows stakeholders dedication to starting up your business.
3. NoHassleIsReturn Ecommerce Plan
Fictional company NoHassleIsReturn's sample ecommerce plan is an expansive, detailed version of how ecommerce would translate to a completely online store. The company itself is structured to offer a way to make returning items bought from an online store a simple process, and the steps to do that are featured below.
Having a sequence of processes like this is useful if your company is a niche idea. Investors and stakeholders need to have an idea of how your business will be new and unique for the market.
Even though writing out a business plan seems like a painstaking process, we have a step-by-step guide to help. This will keep you organized and keep you on track when structuring your business.
How to Write an E-Commerce Business Plan
HubSpot's template provides clear steps to structuring one for your ecommerce business. Throughout this section, I’ll use the example of a photography company specializing in online photo editing.
How to Write an E-commerce Business Plan
Give an executive summary.
List and describe your business.
Conduct a market analysis.
Outline legal notes and financial considerations.
1. Give an executive summary.
An executive summary is a one-to-two page overview of your business. The purpose of an executive summary is to let stakeholders know what the business plan will contain. HubSpot's free template offers some tips on how to write one as I've done below:
It's important to provide an executive summary so that an investor or executive, who doesn’t have the time to read your full plan, can quickly see the most important highlights about your business.
2. List and describe your business.
This is the section that needs the most detail because it highlights what you're selling. To begin, provide an overview of your product or service. For instance, a photography company would probably list their photo packages arranged by price and services, like I did below:
HubSpot's template also provides direction on how to describe the purpose of your company and break down values. It also advises businesses to include team structure, if applicable. Below that, you should go into detail about your product and service lines.
3. Conduct a market analysis.
For the market analysis, provide the operational climate of the industry you're in. To illustrate, at this step, the photography company would need to analyze their position in a world of rival companies like Adobe or online services like Canva. Below, I've done a quick competitor analysis, available in the template:
Using directions in the template as a guide, I was able to come up with more selling points of the company and how it stands out from competitors.
Filling out the market analysis section of the business plan assists with providing the framework of future campaigns. You are able to define your target market and ideal customer. Refer to my example below for how to structure this analysis in your ecommerce plan.
A good market analysis includes your target audience, projections of your company's goals, and a breakdown of the competition's goals and weaknesses for a counterpoint of how your business improves upon those weaknesses.
For a complete guide on how to create a market analysis, we have one here.
4. Outline legal notes and financial considerations.
In the next two sections of your business plan, describe legal and financial structures. The photography company should provide detail on the legal considerations like online safety rules and e-commerce regulations. Further, the costs of the company.
Listing legality and every cost needed to start e-commerce is crucial information for investors and stakeholders. In this section, it's important to be honest and thorough in order to give partners a realistic idea of how to contribute.
Follow these steps and create a strong foundation for your eCommerce business. An extra tip to keep in mind? Provide a table of contents and appendix. These few additions will boost the professional look of your business plan and make it presentation-friendly. For more information about e-commerce, check out our ultimate guide.
Originally published Nov 21, 2019 4:00:00 AM, updated March 10 2021