A business plan is nothing more than a document that allows you to put your business ideas into words and materialize what you want to achieve. It is about tracing a path you will take with your company and making your brand successful.
Every business plan is mainly composed of 3 factors:
- Objectives: the first step is to be clear about the goals. We advise you to describe them as SMART objectives. It is a technique used in the business world to write objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and associated with a stage of the business. They are called SMART because they correspond to an acronym of those words in English, and they refer to each of the characteristics that a good lens should have.
- Strategy is about establishing a business vision that will help you achieve your objectives at each stage. For example, a brand launch strategy will not be the same as an accelerated growth strategy or a prelaunch of your online store.
- Actions: groups those specific actions you will carry out that must be guided by a common strategy to achieve the proposed objectives.
If you decide to start selling online, you must outline your business plan before launching your online store. It seems obvious, but it is not.
Why do we advise you this? Because you are starting from a different scenario if you already have a physical location, for example, or if you are going to develop a new business that will be exclusively online.
Suppose you already have a developed sales channel. In that case, your business plan will have to integrate both media (online/offline), and you will have to think about their synergy from the beginning (in e-commerce, this is known as Omni channel, let’s talk about this later).
Having a business plan means, then, having a north. Still, it is worth clarifying that this business plan is dynamic since your business will go through different stages. Eventually, the context will also change. And that’s where you must adjust your goals and rethink your strategy.
Therefore, we advise you to review the initial business plan as often as necessary.
Before you start selling online
If you have not yet explored this sales channel, it is expected that you will have uncertainty. When putting together your business plan, you start with assumptions. But, as we said, remember that this plan is dynamic and will change over time.
Before setting up your online store, we recommend you investigate the current state of e-commerce in Argentina and your particular field. You will find valuable information in the reports prepared by the Argentine Chamber of Electronic Commerce (CACE). It will give you a clearer picture of the industry and help you make better decisions.
In our blog, you will also find a lot of information that will be useful to you. For example, how to create innovative business ideas or our complete guide on how to sell online.
In addition to everything you find out on your own, we advise you to consult e-commerce specialists and participate in events, ideally networking events, aimed at electronic commerce.
In the second stage, once you start selling through your online store, the daily operation of your e-commerce and the performance analysis (yield) that you are doing will be the factors that will help you adjust the initial plan. The need to make your business more scalable and increase profitability will undoubtedly arise.
How to put together an e-commerce-oriented business plan
Although there is no single way to prepare a business plan, if we think about electronic commerce, we must consider these 9 points:
1) Production: you have to define what products or services you will market and your business model (own production, wholesale purchase, or dropshipping, for example). Also, you will have to decide if you will sell to a single type of customer or more than one (wholesale and retail).
2) Sources of income: at this point, you will have to specify what your sources of income are going to be, what profit margin you plan to obtain, and make an estimated calculation of your profits. It will be necessary to consider the seasonality of your business to make this projection (for example, if you sell bikinis and tights, your income will not be the same in December as in July).
3) Costs: it is also necessary that you carry out a detailed analysis of the fixed and variable costs associated with your business, from product manufacturing expenses, implementation, commissions for the use of platforms and means of payment, logistics process, work team, to advertising, taxes, and services that you hire, among others.
4) Market: here, you have to define what industry your company is in and its characteristics, that is, how that market is made up, who are the main competitors, and what are the particularities of the target audience, among other points.
Some tools that can help you with this task are,
- – SWOT Analysis, to know the strengths and opportunities of your brand, as well as the weaknesses and threats of the environment towards it;
- Porter’s cross to analyze your competition through an exercise and
- Pestel Analysis to assess the industry you want to enter.
5) Operation: you must diagram your price and stock strategy with great focus. It includes, among other things, how your fulfillment processes will be and the logistics of your e-commerce (storage, distribution, and delivery). You will also have to define the payment methods you will offer in your online store.
6) Team: A suitable work team is critical in any business. If you already have a business running, you will have to decide if you are going to hire new staff or if you are going to train current employees and redistribute their tasks.
Do not be discouraged if you start the activity with few staff or assume all the roles yourself. But remember that to grow with your e-commerce, you will have to delegate. Online sales involve processes and tasks that, of course, require time and full attention.
7) Partners: you will also need to identify your strategic partners in the business. Which suppliers will you work with, and to whom will you delegate all those tasks that you cannot carry out with your work team?
8) Marketing: we advise you to consider a marketing plan in the business plan. That is, think about those strategies and actions you will carry out using the different marketing and advertising tools to boost your business.
Social networks are one of the primary sources of traffic to online stores, so we advise you to develop a content strategy and accompany it with advertising investment on both Instagram and Facebook, as well as Google campaigns.
The investment in advertising will not always be the same, but keep in mind that launching a virtual store, is ideal for making an initial investment in online advertising.
It would help if you also analyzed the ROI (return on investment) of all your marketing actions.
9) Omni channel: buyers are currently active in various brand sales channels (physical store, showroom, social networks, online store).
For this reason, it is necessary that, when designing your business plan, you take into account an Omni channel strategy. In other words, think about how these different channels will be integrated into one to offer a personalized experience in all of them and, in this way, increase your sales and guarantee excellent customer service.
Finally, and as we said before, every business starts from a business idea that begins to materialize. When materializing that idea, it is essential that from the beginning, in addition to the objectives, strategy, and actions, you are clear about what you want to convey with your brand.
It will help you better communicate who you are, what you offer, and for whom you offer those products or services. You need to define the purpose of the company, its mission, and vision, as well as your brand’s values, differential, and value proposition.
These are the 9 points to keep in mind when developing your e-commerce-oriented business plan. Now it’s time to take action!