Since the Internet blossomed in the 90’s there has been a number of business models that after launch became very successful. Google probably comes to mind as a success story that many entrepreneurs would have liked to be part of. Furthermore, a pathway to success includes an ecommerce business plan as a starting point.
Ecommerce business plan
The goal if this article to outline an eCommerce business model that is unique in its ideas and design. There may be a few similar concepts around the world but in general this model could be developed to suit your specific needs and location. This post is an overview of more than 150 hours of an ecommerce Business Plan development.
Even so, it can be easily altered and manipulated to suit almost any location around the world. I’ve put in some key detail but are still researching and updating the completed plan as of this writing.
Closing Sales is Getting Harder for Businesses
More and more shoppers are going online to make their purchases. Furthermore, before the purchase occurs most consumers will research a product so they can get the best value and deal.
There is an opportunity to grab a lot of these sales from the big companies. Who have sometimes, put enormous amounts of offline marketing into a product or service, but failed to develop their website to convert effectively.
The Business Model Exposed
My model includes many components which I will list below, but remember that many of the key features may need to be manipulated to suit your area. These components include but aren’t limited to:
1. Firstly, A fully functional website
2. Advanced eCommerce functionality
3. A multi vendor front end
4. Community events listings
5. A Blog
6. Image and video gallery
7. Auction Functionality
8. Lastly, Delivery service
There are many other features that could be included In the list above. Therefore, be aware there are specific risks associated with each part and it could be very problematic when trying to setting priorities.
If it all sound like to much work then you probably right. It is a lot of work and it’s possible to over plan and jeopardizing the whole project. In other recent post I have indicated that a staged approach is the best way to proceed. You can read them by clicking here.
A Fully Functional Website
If you have some web design and basic development skills then you are well on the way to having whats required to make this project work. If you don’t have any of these skills the cost will increase substantially, you may need to pay someone to design and develop the website.
Tip – you could also take on a business partner who has the skills. The central focus of the entire business is the website and an understanding of online marketing and eCommerce is very important. I’m assuming for the purposes of this post you do have a good understanding of both.
There are some great eCommerce extensions/plugins for both Joomla and WordPress which give a very professional look and feel. This is essential if you wants to attract customers and ultimately convert them to sales.
I’m familiar with both but prefer some of the Joomla options available within their paid extensions. WordPress is by no means less functional but for this post Joomla will form the basis for such development.
Preferred eCommerce Functionality
One extension that supports this concept is HikaShop. It’s not free but if you set up, as suggested above, then it’s worth it’s wait in gold.
The many features like payment gateways, shipping methods and a potential auction site makes it suitable to fulfill and support our eCommerce requirements.
One of the best parts of the program is the ability to set up a multi-vendor front end and allow businesses to self list there products. You can charge a commission for this and have a great source of revenue generation.
Community Websites are the Key
The idea of the eCommerce business model is to promote the website as a community resource and sell local products by local businesses. If your town/city is smaller than 100,000 people it may pay to implement the business in two locations where the population is suitably large enough.
One of the key marketing tools maybe via radio so if there isn’t a radio station in the area then the location maybe to small to support this eCommerce business.
It’s essential that you don’t get the urge to go national, at least in the early stages, as theirs so much testing and data gathering to do.
To go national or even state wide would create an unacceptable risk and potentially waste a whole lot of money, or even worse, destroy the business all together. Build the business slowly.
“Data” your way to Website & Business Success
Data is one of the most important things you can gather to support and plan your eCommerce business effectively. Whether it’s data relating to your competitors or consumer data, without proper analysis failure is almost inevitable.
Google has a wealth of information on how to use it effectively, in your country or location, so my tip is to do some research – it will be worth it in the long run. If this step is bypassed there may be consequences you won’t like and I will again emphasis how important effective data is to success.
Even when the concept is up and running gathering information on customers is so important and must continue for the life of the business.
Another of the key features is the community focus. Whether a suitable blog or event listing, people using the website could potentially turn into paying customers. In terms of making the website relevant there are two things that will determine the number of users.
Priorities One & Two – High Quality Content and Search Engine Optimisation
Number one is content – you may have already heard the term “content is king”. This phrase if so so so so important. Google’s algorithms have become very smart and will give you a much higher ranking if there is high quality, relevant and unique content.
Copying other websites information isn’t good enough and potentially will cause Google to place a penalty on an offending websites.
Blog post are a very good source of content and having vendors (local business) on your sight creating great content. Their products will be beneficial to your bottom line. Marketing to vendors can include training on how to create great content and how it will ensure their products have a far greater click through rate.
Number two is Search engine optimisation (SEO).
The more control you have over the website the better. There is a need to ensure that descriptions and titles are suitably written and include the keywords you have analysed on Google Webmaster Console. My eCommerce business plan placed a lot of emphasis on SEO because of its critical nature.
Physical Deliveries Supporting Business
Delivery services are another great way of creating a revenue stream. This is something that may make you some money and many businesses will love you for making their job a whole lot easier. My tip here is not to price yourself out of the market and remember. Keep collecting that data to ensure you are doing the delivery job as efficiently as possible.
When Auctions have a Place in the Business Cycle
The Auction component should probably be rolled out some time after the main website launch and there is enough revenue to support your auction marketing plan. Also in the early stages there maybe fewer users to make it profitable and thus successful.
Auctions can be a great source of revenue but again it is very easy to over price the commissions. Local communities will just go over to Facebook where costs are almost nothing (In term of selling personal items).
It is impossible to compete against the big players like Amazon and eBay. The concept I have outlined above is uniquely local and with great strategies and tasking can generate a good standard of living for those who put in the time and effort.
Business Planning is nothing Without Effective Process Planning
We have put together an extensive eCommerce business plan and documented many of the critical processes. All so, entrepreneurs can simply download it, adjust to suit their needs and launch a potentially successful business.
In conclusion, the business plan and other detail are available for purchase and download. If you have any questions please let me know.