The internet’s additions to the business world have changed everything and continue to do so. With even more established businesses moving the majority of their sales to online markets, e-commerce has established itself as a disrupter in all kinds of trade – that is, it has changed the face of how humans buy and sell as we know it. Maybe you don’t have much of an office or a storefront, but if e-commerce has its way you may not need it.
Where to start though, right? You need a basic business plan and there are initial basics to figure out before working out the finer details. We’re here to help you answer some of those basic questions and prepare you for the next step in making this business plan your reality.
What Do The People Need?
First of all, what need are you trying to satisfy? This question is important to answer first because your answer determines the rest of what you do with your business. When you answer this question, you’ve found your official purpose. Every choice you make from here on out hangs on your answer, so think carefully. Once you decide what consumer need you’re trying to satisfy, you can move on to the next step.
Where Is Your Place?
Where does the need you’re trying to satisfy place you in the space between consumer and manufacturer? Another way to phrase this question is what kind of business are you choosing to be?
It’s notable to say that there are many different kinds of businesses you could build but the most common for e-commerce businesses are middleman businesses and customized everything businesses.
Middleman businesses are those which sell a kind of product by different manufacturers – they’re a one-stop shop for manufacturers and consumers. Customized everything businesses on the other hand sell products that are personalized on color, size, accessories, and other variables.
There are other options, of course, though these two are the most common for e-commerce businesses. However, subscription models like Dollar Shave Club and direct sales sites like Ebay are also e-commerce businesses.
The kind of business you choose to be, however, should be based on your purpose. You have to ask yourself what the best way to satisfy your customers’ need is. For instance, there may be many manufacturers in the industry you choose to be a part of. But there might not be a place where customers can compare products by multiple manufacturers while shopping. This would be a job for a middleman business to step in.
Where Is Your Audience?
Knowing who you want to reach is different than knowing the need you’re trying to meet. What it comes down to is who needs your services?
This will require a market analysis on your part in order to find out what space your target market inhabits. Their demographic information – age, gender, regional location – all of these things are important in how you market your business, even online. It requires discovery of the spaces those people inhabit on the internet and social media, and meeting them there.
What is Your Appeal?
Now that you know where your audience is, you need to figure out how to get them on your side. Part of this will be inherent in meeting their need, but also involves knowing what they like and supplying it to them in a way that nobody else is.
What does this mean? Well, this could, of course, be lower prices or great product combination packages with free shipping, but your literal presentation matters as well. That’s right, we’re talking about advertising.
Advertise your brand to consumers in innovative ways that make your brand unique and desirable. Visuals and messaging all contribute to your brand personality. Make that personality attractive enough to compete in your market and make yourself well-known.
Money, Money, Money
We’ll try not to get too specific here, but consider the endgame: Is there a demand for what you’re selling that you think can pay out the cost to sell it? Is this market sustainable and will it last long enough to justify investing in it?
The basic question of “will people buy it?” is essential if you’re going through with an e-commerce business. Once you determine whether or not this business venture might be profitable enough to be worth your efforts, you will know whether or not to follow through with everything we’ve listed here.
What have been your experiences building your e-commerce business? What did you leave out of your business plan that you wish you hadn’t missed, or what did you include that we didn’t that you’re proud of? Let us know in the comments below!