Are you about starting an e-commerce business? If YES, here’s a complete sample e-commerce business plan template & feasibility report you can use for FREE.
Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting an e-commerce business. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample e-commerce marketing plan template backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for e-commerce businesses. So let’s proceed to the business planning section.
Gone are those days when one only had to go to the stores or an open market to purchase stuff. Recently, more than ever before in the history of man, people can shop effectively and satisfactorily. This is because of the systems and structure which most e-commerce business sites have in place to suit their customers. In America, the ecommerce business seem to be the order of the day, as more and more people embrace the trade.
The e-commerce business is one of the easiest trade to start with minimal capital. What is more, you can boast of ample returns on investment when you do start this business. You will however, need to put some things in place. It isn’t enough that you do about doing the physical things, without first striking off the paper works. What does this paper work entail, you just might ask?
- Why Is a Business plan Important?
Well, it requires that you write a comprehensive business plan that will help you make the right projections, as well as build the right structure for your business. These structures are what you will need to ride on over the years in order to make the business what you want it to be. Other things that you will need to consider are succession plans, and what have you.
Writing a business plan might not come that easy, especially if you do not know a thing about it. However, you can use an existing business plan to write yours perfectly. As a matter of fact, there are a thousand and one things that you need to learn on the job as it were are you use an existing business plan. They include; that you will learn a lot about some technicalities that ordinarily may have looked vague. So, for your e- commerce business, you may consider using the sample e- commerce business plan below to tweak yours effectively.
A FREE Sample e-Commerce Business Plan Template
- E–Commerce Business Overview
Over the years, loads of things have changed especially the way businesses are conducted. The advent of the computer and later the internet gave a whole new definition of how things are supposed to be done in our world. E – Commerce is one of the fruits of the internet and for sure it has enabled loads of entrepreneur to launch multimillion dollars international businesses; business that cut across geographical boundaries.
E-commerce basically consists of the delivery of products and services via electronic platforms, such as the Internet, computer networks, email or mobile phones. Retailers leverage on the internet to sale their goods and services while corporations and financial institutions make use of the internet to exchange financial data to facilitate domestic and international business.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, starting an e-commerce business is a great way to successfully launch a business that can gain recognition on a wide scale with minimal resources. The fact that the internet is a global village makes it easier for e – commerce businesses to reach out to a wide market scope. In essence, if you don’t have enough startup capital to rent a shop in a strategic location, money to equip the shop and money for other startup expenses, then starting your own e – commerce business is just the way to go. There are several ways to do business online; you can start by selling your own products or you can create an affiliate website that has a functional online store, drop shipping for a merchant.
There is no limit to the types of products and services you can display on your e – commerce website, as long as you have proper arrangement with the manufacturer. The fact that online stores are not restricted by floor space makes it easier for them to offer a larger variety of products than a physical store.
It is normal for consumers to go to stores where they can have numerous options to choose from and that is what e – commerce (online) store offers to them. It is important to note that with the advent of online store a subset of e commerce business model, Customers no longer need to travel for shopping thus less traffic on road and low air pollution.
There are several advantages that e – commerce business model brings to the table and they are; E-commerce business model increases the reach of advertising of products and services of businesses. It helps in better marketing and management of products and services. E-Commerce business model is faster, and efficient; it provides reliable communication with customers and partners. E-Commerce stores are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, reaching out to as many people that can access the internet. With e – Commerce, a customer can go through the review of a product or services before making the decision to either purchase / order or decline.
No doubt, e-Commerce has become an important tool for doing businesses all over the world, not only to sell to customers, but also to engage them. It is now easier for organization to expand their market from local level to national and even international markets with minimum capital investment. The e – commerce industry is indeed a mega industry, since it can generate well over $1 trillion annually on a global scale. For example, in 2012, ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time in history and the figure is still growing.
According to Wikipedia,
“Among emerging economies, China’s e-commerce presence continues to expand every year. With 384 million internet users, China’s online shopping sales rose to $36.6 billion in 2009 and one of the reasons behind the huge growth has been the improved trust level for shoppers. The Chinese retailers have been able to help consumers feel more comfortable shopping online. China’s cross-border e-commerce is also growing rapidly. E-commerce transactions between China and other countries increased 32% to 2.3 trillion Yuan ($375.8 billion) in 2012 and accounted for 9.6% of China’s total international trade in 2013, Alibaba had an e-commerce market share of 80% in China.”
Lastly, it is important to state that the e – commerce industry is regulated by a number of federal, state, and international regulatory organizations. There are laws that govern e-commerce business; such law involve complex contract and tax issues, security, and privacy issues. Because technology changes swiftly, so also the laws regulating it are renewed on a regular basis.
For example, in the United States of America, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) regulates the e – commerce industry. UCITA are responsible for creating rules and regulations that govern areas like software licensing, online access, and other transactions in computer information.
Sample e-Commerce Business Plan Template – Executive Summary
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. is a United States based international online shopping website that offers a wide range of quality products such as electronics, computers, groceries, fashion, home appliances and kid’s items. Our head office will be located in the heart of Portland, Oregon but we will have warehouses in London, United Kingdom, Lagos, Nigeria and Rio, Brazil.
We are an e – commerce startup with a long term goal of having our presence in major cities in the world and delivering a wide range of products from globally recognized manufacturing brands at rock bottom prices they can hardly get from any retailer.
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. will run a 24 hours a day and 7 day a week online shop, with effective and timely delivery system. Our payment platform is highly secured and we will only deal in non-Cash Payment. Our payment platform will readily accept payment from credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, electronic fund transfer via bank’s website and other modes of electronics payment.
Our inventory management of products is automated, our portal is designed such that its reports get generated instantly when required and our product inventory management is very efficient and easy to maintain. We have a robust business relationship with shipping companies and we are going to be shipping goods for our clients at a highly discounted price. Our plans of strategically positioning our warehouses makes it easier for us to deliver products on time whenever our clients make orders.
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store will ensure that all our customers are given first class treatment irrespective of the quantity of products they purchase or the part of the world they reside. We have a CRM software that will enable us manage a one on one relationship with our customers no matter how large the numbers of our customers’ base grows to. Our customers will always be carried along when we want to make decisions that will directly affect them.
At Shannon & Shavonne Inc. our team members are highly competent and dedicated to the company; they are trained to go the extra mile to resolve any complain from our customers. Our phone lines are opened 24 hours a week and 7 days a week, with highly trained call center agents manning them and also customers can freely chat with us via our website at any time of the day.
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store is owned by Shannon Steve, Shavonne McPherson, Lois Gerrard, Emmanuelle Mitchell and David Henry. They are all big – time investors with same investment philosophy. The business will be managed by Shavonne Steve who has 5 years of experience working as a director with one of the world’s leading online store.
- Our Products
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store will ensure we go all the way to make available a wide range of goods and products from top manufacturing brands in the United States and other countries of the world to our customers.
We will have available in our warehouses a wide range of durable goods and non – durable goods at affordable prices. We will deal in goods such as groceries, clothes, sports equipment, beauty products, jewelry, children’s toys, baby stuffs, home furnishings and home appliances et al. Just for clarity purpose, we have various items from world class brands in the following product categories:
- Beverages & Cigars
- Events & Tickets
- Home Appliances
- Mobile Phones
Our Vision Statement
Our vision is to build an e – commerce business (online store) that can favorably compete with international brands like Amazon and Alibaba.com
- Our Mission Statement
Our mission is to establish an online retail business that will make available a wide range of goods and products from top manufacturing brands at affordable prices to a wide range of customers that will cut across different countries of the world.
- Business Structure
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. is an international online store that wants to become a global brand and compete favorably with the leading brands in the industry hence we will ensure that we put the right structure and processes in place that will enable us build the business of our dream.
At Shannon & Shavonne, we will ensure that we hire people that are qualified, honest, customer centric and are ready to work to help us build a prosperous business that will benefit all the stake holders (the owners, workforce, and customers). As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of three years or more. In view of that, we have decided to hire qualified and competent hands to occupy the following positions;
- Chief Executive Officer / President
- Human Resources and Admin Manager
- Warehouse Manager
- Merchandize Manager
- Business Developer
- Transport and Logistic Manager
- Information Technologist
- Call Center Agent
Roles and Responsibilities
Chief Executive Officer – CEO:
- Responsible for providing direction for the business
- Creating, communicating, and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction – i.e. leading the development and implementation of the overall organization’s strategy.
- Responsible for fixing prices and signing business deals
- Responsible for payment of salaries
- Responsible for signing checks and documents on behalf of the company
- Evaluates the success of the organization
Human Resources and Admin Manager
- Responsible for overseeing the smooth running of HR and administrative tasks for the organization
- Defines job positions for recruitment and managing interviewing process
- Carries out staff induction for new team members
- Responsible for training, evaluation and assessment of employees
- Responsible for arranging travel, meetings and appointments
- Oversees the smooth running of the daily office activities.
- Interfaces with third – party providers (vendors)
- Keeps proper records of available goods and make recommendations for re – stocking
- Works in collaboration with the merchandize manager to ensure that goods are always available in the warehouse
- Manage vendor relations, market visits, and the ongoing education and development of the organizations’ buying teams
- Helps to ensure consistent quality of goods and products on our rack
- Responsible for the purchase of goods and products for the organizations
- Responsible for planning sales, monitoring inventory, selecting the merchandise, and writing and pricing orders to vendors
- Ensures that the organization operates within stipulated budget.
Transport and Logistic Manager
- Manages the shipping of goods from warehouse to customers
- Negotiates deals with shipping companies
- Collaborates with the Merchandize Manager in transporting goods from the manufacturer to our warehouses
- Manages the organization website
- Responsible for continuous update of our online store
- Ensure that our payment platform is secured 24 / 7
- Responsible for installing and maintenance of computer software and hardware for the organization
- Manage logistics and supply chain software, Web servers, e-commerce software and POS (point of sale) systems
- Responsible for continuous upgrade and maintenance of IT systems
- Handles any other technological and IT related duties.
- Manage external research and coordinate all the internal sources of information to retain the organizations’ best customers and attract new ones
- Models demographic information and analyze the volumes of transactional data generated by customer purchases
- Identifies, prioritizes, and reach out to new partners, and business opportunities et al
- Responsible for supervising implementation, advocate for the customer’s need s, and communicate with clients
- Develops, executes and evaluates new plans for expanding increase sales
- Documents all customer contact and information
- Represents the company in strategic meetings
- Helps increase sales and growth for the company
- Responsible for preparing financial reports, budgets, and financial statements for the organization
- Responsible for financial forecasting and risks analysis.
- Responsible for developing and managing financial systems and policies
- Responsible for administering payrolls
- Ensures compliance with taxation legislation
- Handles all financial transactions for the company
- Serves as internal auditor for the company
Call Center Agents
- Ensures that all contacts with clients (e-mail, walk-In center, SMS or phone) provides the client with a personalized customer service experience of the highest level
- Through interaction with clients on the phone, uses every opportunity to build client’s interest in the company’s products and services
- Consistently stays abreast of any new information on the company’s products, promotional campaigns etc. to ensure accurate and helpful information is supplied to clients when they make enquiries
- Handles enquiries via e-mail, chat and phone calls for the organization
- Distribute mails in the organization
- Handles any other duties as assigned my the line manager
Sample e-Commerce Business Plan Template – SWOT Analysis
Starting an online store comes with some challenges, especially when it comes to managing the payment portal, shipping goods to various locations and ensuring that goods are sold cheaper than is obtainable in physical stores. Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store is launching an international e – commerce business which is why we decided to model successful brands. In doing that, we decided to conduct a thorough SWOT analysis and write an e-commerce marketing plan.
We were able to employ the services of Dr. Pablo Carson, an expert HR and Business Analyst with bias in the e – commerce industry (online retailing store) to help us conduct a thorough SWOT analysis and to help us create a business model that will help us achieve our business goals and objectives. This is the summary of the SWOT analysis that was conducted for Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store;
No doubt the fact that we have a robust relationship with a wide range of manufacturers of various products will definitely count as a strength for us. We have a well-coordinated shipping system and our customer can be rest assured that they will have their goods delivered to them in record time. Other area of strength are; secured payment platforms, wide range of products and excellent customer service culture.
A major weakness that may count against us is the fact that we are a new online retail store and we don’t have the financial capacity to compete with multi – billion dollars online stores like; Amazon and Alibaba.com. This is when it comes to wider reach and selling products at rock bottom prices.
The opportunities available to online retail stores are unlimited; as a matter of fact customers can make purchase from any part of the world. We will ensure that we position our warehouses in targeted countries so as to enable us cut cost of shipping and maximize the opportunity that are available to us.
Just like any other business, one of the major threats that we are likely going to face as an online retailing store is economic downturn. It is a fact that economic downturn affects purchasing power. Another threat that may likely confront us is unfavorable government policies.
Sample e-Commerce Business Plan Template – MARKET ANALYSIS
- Market Trends
One of the best things to happen to the business world is the introduction of the internet. The internet has made doing business less stressful and less cumbersome. Online retail stores are in the forefront when it comes to retailing goods; it is now very much easier to cover a wide range of customers from all over the world via ecommerce business model.
Despite the fact that there are several online stores, the market is still pretty much open for more online stores to come into the market. The fact that two different online store operates from same street does not in any way affect their sales. The market available to them is the global village, especially if they are open to customers from different part of the world.
- Target Market
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. is a United States based international online shopping website that offers a wide range of quality products such as electronics, computers, groceries, fashion, home appliances and kid’s items to a wide range of customers. We are in business to retail a wide range of products to the following groups of people from our online store;
- Corporate Executives
- Business People
- About to wed couples
- Expectant Mothers
- Sports Men and Women
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store is an online retail business that is designed to serve a wide range of customers, which is why we have decided to hire some of the best hands to help us set up the business and also to manage the business.
We are coming into an industry that is highly competitive and we know that leveraging on price and quality will be our best bet to attract loads of customers. Our excellent customer service culture, secured payment portal, and effective and efficient shipping arrangement with count as a competitive advantage for us.
Sample e-Commerce Business Plan Template – SALES AND MARKETING STRATEGY
- Sources of Income
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store is a business that was established to retail a wide range of products to a wide range of customers that cut across different countries. In view of the above, our source of income will be in online retailing of a wide range of products from world class brands in the following product categories:
- Beverages & Cigars
- Events & Tickets
- Home Appliances
- Mobile Phones
It is important to state that our sales forecast is based on the data gathered during our feasibility studies, market survey and also some of the assumptions readily available on the field. One thing is common with online retailing business, the more shipping options you have, the more customers that will patronize your business. Below are the sales projections that we were able to come up with for the first three years of operations;
- First Year-: $250,000
- Second Year-: $400,000
- Third Year-: $750,000
N.B-: This projection is done based on what is obtainable in the industry and with the assumption that there won’t be any major economic meltdown that may likely affect the purchasing power of our target market.
- Marketing Strategy and Sales Strategy
Our marketing strategy will center on pricing, secured payment platform, and above all excellent customer service. We will ensure that whenever our customers order goods from our online store, they will get it delivered to them within the stipulated time frame. We know that if we are able to put the above stated in place, we wouldn’t have to struggle to retain our old customers and at the same time win over new customers.
One thing is certain about online store, it has a wider reach and with the proper strategy and structure in place, we will be able to get our own share of the available market. We are aware of the power of the internet and we will do all we can to maximize the internet to market our business. In other words, a larger percentage of our marketing effort will be directed to internet users since our business is based on the internet; our website will become our number one marketing tool. In summary, Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store will adopt the following sales and marketing strategy;
- Introduce our business by sending introductory letters to residence, business owners and organizations
- Advertise our business on international magazines, satellite TV stations and radio stations
- Leverage on online forums to attract customers to our online store
- List our business on yellow pages ads
- Leverage on the internet to promote our business
- Direct marketing
- Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
e-Commerce Business Plan – Publicity and Advertising Strategy
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store will leverage on all available platforms to promote and advertise our business. We know the power publicity which is why we have a rich budget to handle the publicity of our business. We will be very aggressive when it comes to promoting our business especially within the first 12 months of operations. With effective publicity, we are likely going to hit the target that we set for the business. Here are the platforms we intend leveraging on to promote and advertise Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store;
- Place adverts on both print (international and local newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Google+, Badoo, Facebook , twitter, et al to promote our brand
- Install our Bill Boards on strategic locations
- Distribute our fliers and handbills in target areas
- Brand our in house delivery bikes and vans
Pricing is one of the key factors that gives leverage to online retail stores, it is normal for consumers to visit online retail stores where they can goods at cheaper price which is why big player in the ecommerce industry like Amazon will continue to attract loads of consumers. Products in their store are tagged with the cheapest price you can get anywhere in the world. We know we don’t have the capacity to compete with Amazon or any other big online retail store, but we will ensure that the prices of all the products that are available in our online store are competitive and affordable.
- Payment Options
Our payment policy is all inclusive because we are quite aware that different people prefer different payment options as it suits them. We have designed our system to accept payments via credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, electronic fund transfer via bank’s website and other modes of electronics payment.
- Start – Up Expenditure (Budget)
This is the key areas where we will spend our start – up capital on;
- The Total Fee for Registering the Business in Oregon – $750.
- Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits – $1,500.
- Marketing promotion expenses for the grand opening of Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store in the amount of $3,500 and as well as flyer printing (2,000 flyers at $0.04 per copy) for the total amount of $3,580.
- Cost for hiring Consultant – $2,500.
- Cost for Computer Software (Accounting Software, Payroll Software, CRM Software, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks Pro, drug interaction software, Physician Desk Reference software) – $7,000
- Insurance (general liability, workers’ compensation and property casualty) coverage at a total premium – $3,400.
- Cost for payment of rent for warehouse facility for 12 month at $1.76 per square feet in the total amount of $105,600.
- Other start-up expenses including stationery ($500) and phone and utility deposits ($2,500).
- Operational cost for the first 3 months (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $100,000
- The cost for Start-up inventory (stocking with a wide range of products) – $150,000
- Storage hardware (rack and shelves,) – $3,720
- Cost for store equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $13,750
- The cost for the purchase of furniture and gadgets (Computers, Printers, Telephone, fax machine, cabins, tables and chairs et al): $4,000.
- The cost of Launching a Website: $1,500
- The cost for the purchase of delivery vans and bikes: $70,000
- The cost for branding: $5,000
- The cost for our opening party: $7,000
- Miscellaneous: $10,000
We would need an estimate of $700,000 to successfully set up our online retail business. Please note that this amount includes the salaries of all the staff for the first month of operation.
Generating Funding / Startup Capital for Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. Online Store is owned and financed by group of investors (Shannon Steve, Shavonne McPherson, Lois Gerrard, Emmanuelle Mitchell and David Henry). They have a long term plan of selling shares to other investors with similar investment ideology once the need arises. These are the areas we intend generating our start – up capital;
- Generate part of the start – up capital from the owners (Shannon Steve, Shavonne McPherson, Lois Gerrard, Emmanuelle Mitchell and David Henry)
- Apply for loan from my Bank
- Invite other interested investors (when the need for expansion arises.)
N.B: We have been able to generate about $400,000 (from each of the partners) and we are at the final stages of obtaining a loan facility of $300,000 from our bank. All the papers and document have been signed and submitted, the loan has been approved and any moment from now our account will be credited with the amount.
e-Commerce Business Plan – Sustainability and Expansion Strategy
The future of any business lies in the numbers of loyal customers that the business can boast of having, the capacity and competence of the employees, their investment strategy and the business structure. If any of these factors is missing from a business (company), then it won’t be too long before the business close shop. We are aware of these factors and we have been able to structure our business to
We will ensure that we engage in continuous capacity building of our workforce; we will not relent in training and re – training of every of our employees. Also, we will introduce a policy that guarantee our management team to become part owner of the business. As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of three years or more.
Shannon & Shavonne Inc. will make sure that the right foundation, structures and processes are put in place to ensure that staff welfare is well taken of. Our company’s corporate culture is designed to drive our business to greater heights and training and re – training of our workforce is at the top burner.
Check List / Milestone
- Business Name Availability Check: Completed
- Business Registration: Completed
- Opening of Corporate Bank Accounts: Completed
- Securing Point of Sales (POS) Machines: Completed
- Opening Online Payment Platforms: Completed
- Application and Obtaining Tax Payer’s ID: In Progress
- Application for business license and permit: Completed
- Purchase of Insurance for the Business: Completed
- Leasing of warehouse facility and remodeling the facility: In Progress
- Conducting Feasibility Studies: Completed
- Generating start – up capital from partners: Completed
- Applications for Loan from the bank: In Progress
- Writing of Business Plan: Completed
- Drafting of Employee’s Handbook: Completed
- Drafting of Contract Documents and other relevant Legal Documents: In Progress
- Design of The Company’s Logo: Completed
- Graphic Designs, branding and Printing of Marketing / Promotional Materials: In Progress
- Recruitment of employees: In Progress
- Purchase of the Needed furniture, racks, shelves, computers, electronic appliances, office appliances, delivery vans and delivery bikes: In progress
- Creating Official Website for the Company: In Progress
- Creating Awareness for the business both online and around the community: In Progress
- Health and Safety and Fire Safety Arrangement (License): Secured
- Opening party / launching party planning: In Progress
- Compilation of our list of products that will be available in our online store: Completed
- Establishing business relationship with manufacturers and wholesale suppliers of products we intend retailing: In Progress