Starting an online store can prove to be a highly profitable option, however, it is nor too easy, neither too quick to set up an online store overnight and start making money. With every passing day, the eCommerce industry is becoming more competitive than yesterday, and so, it can be highly challenging for new entrepreneurs. You can however, overcome any challenge with thorough research and visionary planning. This is why a business plan is important for starting a business.
A business plan is the road map to success, so the first and foremost concern for a eCommerce entrepreneur should be to have a solid business plan in hand. You do not necessarily require an extensively documented business plan right in the beginning, and can always start with a one page business plan. You can work on a detailed business plan in parallel, but to get started you must have a document that states clear vision, business goals and strategies.
In order to prepare a business plan for your eCommerce store, you need to do some preliminary work which mainly includes research. Based on your research you can formulate strategies and move forward with a foolproof business plan.
Here is a quick outline of all what you should consider when planning to start your eCommerce store.
1- The Niche
Make sure your product or service falls under a profitable niche, i.e. if you study some of the most successful eCommerce stores, you will find that the web store owner saw an opportunity where no one else was catering to that specific niche.
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2- The Competition
Knowing your competition helps you plan ahead. A simple search in Google and Bing for your keywords can reveal your competitors. Pick up top ten and study them, i.e. what and how they are doing it. Make sure to know all about their strengths and weaknesses, so you can strategize accordingly.
3- The ECommerce Platform
The choice of right shopping cart software matters most when it comes to build a successful online store, and you must do it right in the beginning. Ideally, a good shopping cart software should have everything to run your online store smoothly, i.e. order management, secure multiple payment gateways, customer services features, SEO friendliness, reliable & expandable and affordable.
4- Payment Processing
Before you open an online store, you must have a clear picture of how you are going to get paid. Do your research and signup for merchant account with necessary payment processors, because you must have a merchant account with a payment processor in order to setup the payment gateways on your website.
5- Pricing & Shipping
Ideally, you should have a pricing policy in place before you actually start selling. Remember that it’s not just the cost of inventory that counts in pricing, but you must also include overheads like website platform and hosting, modules add-ons, monthly fees, payment gateways, credit card processing fees, advertising, storage, packaging supplies, shipping costs etc. You must also have a clear return policy in place, before your store starts operations.
6- Website Terms & Policies
7- The Marketing Plan
You may have thousands of products ready to sell, but you cannot sell them without a solid marketing plan. So, ideally, you should prepare one in parallel. Ideally, you should have a specific marketing budget, which you can split into monthly basis, but a more powerful marketing plan can go further to weekly basis.
The Bottom Line:
No matter, how excited you are to start your online store, make sure note to proceed until you have the above covered. These are the basics of opening an online store and taking these into considerations helps you take a healthy start!