How To Create Your Ecommerce Business Plan + FREE Template
There are no shortage of articles on how to write your ecommerce business plan out there, but before we go any further I want to let you know how this plan is different.
Firstly, I've no desire to keep you here for hours reading reams of useless information and completing numerous arduous tasks.
Secondly, not only will you get an overview of everything you need to cover in your ecommerce business plan, but if you read till the end you'll also get free access to my free online boutique business plan workbook.
But before we dive in, let's start with a few basics.
How to use your ecommerce business plan?
Even though all the business gurus bang on about creating a business plan, it’s really a pointless exercise if you’re not sure why you created it or, more importantly, how it will serve you as you launch your online boutique.
Top three benefits of creating your online boutique business plan
Having a written plan of action helps to provide clarity around your vision, and focus so you don’t get lost in all the details
It allows you to share your vision quickly and clearly with other business partners or investors
Having an ecommerce business plan allows to you to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and business bottlenecks early on
Top three ways to use your ecommerce business plan
- Use your business plan to help define the different ecommerce marketing strategies and tactics you will use to get your brand out there
- Return to your ecommerce business plan when you feel like you're stagnating, or have lost clarity on your objectives and vision - this has been the most helpful for me
- Use your business plan to have a better understanding of the time and resources you will need to execute your vision. This will help you plan your time and budget more effectively.
Ecommerce Business Plan Essentials: What to include
1. Your why
Most business plans tends to start with an executive summary. That's just a fancy pants way of saying: what's your objective?
Personally, I think it makes more sense to start with your why.
In other words: Clarify your motivation behind starting your business.
If you’re not clear about this, this minute things get tough you’ll bail out, no matter how beautiful crafted your ecommerce business plan is.
Here's my why:
- Financial freedom and security
- Supporting other women to start their own business
- Create a quality product that becomes a part of people's day to day life
2. Your executive summary
An executive summary is especially valuable to have if your business plan will be seen by outside investors or advisors.
That being said, your executive summary doesn’t need to read like a book either.
I tend to find that 3-4 paragraphs is usually more than enough to make it clear what your goal is.
What needs to be included within your executive summary
- Your business concept. What exactly does your business do?
- Your business goals and vision. What does your business want to do?
- Your product description and differentiation. How is what you sell better or different?
- Your target market. Who is your ideal customer, who do you want to sell to?
- What's your marketing plan. How do you intend to reach your customers?
- What's your current financials. What if any revenue does the business currently do?
- What's your projected financials. What are your projected earnings for the next 6 months?
- What's the price. Are you a high end or bargain basement brand - what's the price?
- What's the management structure: Who’s involved? Investors, co-founders, advisors etc
3. Your market research and niche analysis
I see far too many new online boutique owners rush into the inventory buying stage of their business, before they’ve taken a moment to analyse the market and niche they are entering into.
In my experience this always leaves them at a major disadvantage because they are going in blind.
Time spent researching your market and understanding who you're competing against is rarely wasted.
That being said, don’t get stuck in fear and doubt just because you find a bunch of people already doing what you want to do.
If they’re are winning, this is a good sign.
Things to include in your market analysis are:
- Size of the market
- Growth of the market/niche - is this stable, on an upward turn, declining
- Major players within the space
- Financial projections - this is an educated guess at this point but it helps to have a baseline
- Industry regulations or compliance issues - this is especially important if you're' in the beauty or consumables space
4. An assessment of our strengths and weaknesses
This is often called a SWOT - strengths, weakness, opportunities, threat - analysis.
And while it’s a helpful tool, I’ve found people can often get stuck here. Why?
Well they get caught up in their weakness (all the things they don’t know how to do) and their threats - all the people already out here killing it.
For me, to trick is to adopt the right mindset before you even do this exercise. And that mindset is that: you will find the right information, help and support to in all the areas that you are weak.
Take comfort in the early realisation that we can’t all be good at everything, and there’s no shortage of talented people out here who who are able to help, often for a great price.
5. Your business model and unique selling point
When you’re starting your online boutique there are lots of different business models you can use. I cover different online business models over in this post here.
Let's take a quick summary of them:
- Buy inventory - buy wholesale and sell for a markup
- P.O.D/ Print on demand - work with a printing & fulfilment company who print your products and fulfil the shipment to your customer
- Dropship - this is where you sell the items, but the inventory is held by a third party supplier as is the fulfilment
- Manufacture in house - make your own products from scratch
- Marketplace - this is where you act as a middleman bringing businesses (either b2b or b2c customers) together
- Affiliate - this is when you don’t hold any inventory, but simply direct people to the source where the product can be purchased and once a sale is made you get a commission
The business model you select is often determined by your budget, knowledge of what’s possible, and the amount of time you have.
You also need to be clear around what makes your product or the way you sell it unique and memorable.
Being in a popular industry isn’t a problem, in fact it’s a bonus. However, becoming another boring, 'me too' brand in an already crowded space is not recommended.
6. Your operational needs and marketing budget
Getting clear around how much you have to invest in your business, will help you to know where to allocate your funds.
There are some unavoidable and fixed costs when it comes to launching your online boutique, and a lot of them are operational costs. I’ve listed a handful of them below.
- Packaging and shipping costs
- Payment processing costs
- Web hosting costs
- Inventory costs
But make sure you check out this video below where I share the real costs of starting a boutique. Find the video helpful? Don't forget to subscribe to get more.
7. Your marketing plan
Once you have a vision for your brand and you’re clear about the marketplace, your strengths and weaknesses, your budget and what makes your brand different. The next step is to start crafting an outline of your ecommerce marketing plan.
This should include the marketing strategies and tactics you plan to use to promote your online boutique. If you’re stuck for ideas, you’ll find a lot of inspiration in this post I created, especially as it has an online boutique launch checklist.
At this stage it’s also important to consider what marketing tools and resources you will need to help you execute your marketing plan. And also what outside help, if any, you might find beneficial.
Things to consider are:
- Paid advertising costs - I focus on Facebook and Pinterest advertising
- Landing page software - I love Instapage or Zipify
- Email service provider costs - I use Klaviyo
- Product photography/video creation and editing - I use Canva
- Graphic design work - I often hire people of of Fivver for small tasks.
Now before we wrap this post up, I want to share with you a few industry statistics about the online boutique industry, because it’s important you are aware of the landscape you’re about to dive into.
Online boutique industry statistics
#1. Online retail e-commerce sales were more than $322 billion in 2016. They are expected to rise to almost $500 billion by 2021. (Statista)
#2. One of the biggest threats to online clothing boutiques is a high return rate. Some stores experience return rates as high as 50%. (Shopify)
#3. Online clothing sales for men generate more than $20 billion in revenues annually from U.S.-based consumers. (IBIS World)
#4. The top-performing categories for online clothing sales for Amazon, which controls about 1.5% of the U.S. online market in this category, were men’s bottoms, women’s intimate apparel, women’s denim, and men’s underwear. (One Click Retail / CNBC)
#5. 58% of internet users globally have purchased at least one fashion or clothing-related item within the past 12 months. (Statista)
I appreciate that some of this data may be alarming, but you only need to take a brief look at Instagram and Pinterest to see that despite these numbers, there are many women out there, just like you and me, winning with their online boutique.
And you know what that means?
It means if they can do it, so can you.
So don’t waste another second and get started with your ecommerce business plan today.
You can download a free template to use by clicking the button below.
But if you think you’d find value and purpose in learning a tried and tested system for launching your new online store, then I encourage you to check out the Launch Code Playbook, details are below.
Introducing The Launch Code Playbook
5 LIFE-ALTERING WAYS YOUR BUSINESS AND LIFE IS ABOUT TO CHANGE (for the better!)
THIS IS YOU: Focused and confident as you take the steps to brand, build and launch your online boutique (even though you only have 92 free minutes each day... if you're lucky)
THIS IS YOU: Relieved and with waaaayyyy more coins left in your pocket 'cos you didn’t choose a niche as vague as ‘women's fashion'. You knew better (so.... you found your own lane)
THIS IS YOU: Building your website – the right way, the first time – because you understand SEO basics and how to use this to your advantage
THIS IS YOU: Snatching back time with your kids, friends, the human that you co-habit with––because you're no longer trawling Facebook groups in the dead of night desperate for some legit info (you already have an ACTION PLAN)
THIS IS YOU: Up and open for business in just 8-weeks instead of 18 months. Because, really? 18. WHOLE. MONTHS!
Ready to Launch Your Online Boutique With Confidence?
Click play and watch this presentation and I'll show you how to launch your dream boutique
$197: Today just $87. SAVE $117
The Launch Code Playbook is executed in three phases, check it out...
Phase #1 BRAND IT - is focused on research and brand development
Specifically you'll learn:
How to choose the perfect niche, find your lane, and get clear about what makes your brand utterly irresistible
Essential things to look for when choosing an ecommerce platform and website theme - especially if you plan to go premium
Who your ideal customer is? What she wants to buy? And what you need to say and do to get her to buy that from you. Simples. Kinda...
How to make your website look like you hired a baller designer (when haven't even gone pro on Canva, tut-tut)
Phase #2 BUILD IT - is focused on developing your website the right way
Specifically you'll learn:
- How to join Shopify & make progress - even BEFORE the slightly measly 2-week FREE trial is up
- Why & where to focus your SEO efforts before you launch (even if you never do SEO ever again)
- How to craft product descriptions your customers (and search engines) love
- How to save $175 by not hiring me to audit your store before you launch - and doing it yo'self!
Phase #3 LAUNCH IT - is focused on launching your store and establishing your presence
Specifically you'll learn:
- Buzz building tactics that work, pre, during and post launch (many that cost less than a failed ad campaign)
- How to create a Facebook & Instagram marketing strategy (that generates results - even without paid ads)
- Email list building basics (which are actually quite advanced)
- Email marketing strategies that help you convert (subscribers into cash spending customers)
Before I choose to work with Stacey I watched her tutorials, stalked her website, and studied her workbook. It was everything I needed and everything I didn't even know I needed. I scheduled a two-day intensive and it was everything I thought it would be - intense yet super helpful and very actionable.
Dr Petrina - intensive client
Stacey is a great partner for any business that wants their story to jump off the page. Her marketing strategies and copywriting skills are impactful and effective and her infectious personality and strong work ethic may her a joy to work with.
Terry Omata - Reveal Shop
Stacey saw my ultimate potential and in just a few short weeks gave me the tools to transform my business in ways I never imagined possible. Her coaching is strong, direct and personal. She will help you set goals higher than you imagined possible and give you the tools enabling you to achieve them.
Amanda Biccum - idea to income coaching client
$197: Check out today for just $87. SAVE $117
There are also several free bonuses included, details on the checkout page
Get launched in just 8 weeks
The refund rate on the Playbook is incredibly low. However, if you're truly unhappy with what you receive, reach out within 48hrs of your purchase for a full quibble free refund. After this time all sales are final. Still got questions? Email: stacey (@) brazenprofitlab.com