featured image for article on why plan an ecommerce strategy

Starting an online business is easy enough – or so most people think. There’s no shortage of beginner-friendly website builders out there, so anyone can build an attractive ecommerce store in minutes. But for you to actually MAKE IT and SUCCEED in the ecommerce world, you need to have a solid system in place.

A good ecommerce setup takes some time to make, so if you’re on the fence about it and weighing the odds of just winging it, then continue reading this blog post. Today, we’ll talk about why you need to plan an ecommerce strategy if you want your online business to succeed.

Why you need to plan your ecommerce strategy ASAP

Whether you’re starting as a one-person business or already have a team working for you, an action plan can help streamline your company and help you reach your goals. Having an ecommerce strategy or blueprint is the best way to move forward in the online world:

Gain a deeper understanding of your ecommerce business

It might be possible to “wing” your business and hope for success even without a plan in place. However, the odds of you actually succeeding is close to nil.

Writing down your strategy will help you understand your business in-depth. It’s different when your plan lives just in your mind. Seeing it on paper clarifies the little things which can make – or break – your business in the future.

For instance, a solid business strategy will help you identify the resources needed to start, run, and manage your store, such as:

  • The types of products you intend to sell
  • Your ideal customers
  • Where are you going to source your capital, i.e. personal savings, bank loan, angel investor, crowdfund, etc.?
  • Are you going to be a solopreneur or are you hiring a team?
  • Do you need to rent an office, commercial space, or can you operate out of your home?
  • How will you source your products, or raw materials if you’re making them yourself?
  • What about logistics?
  • What happens if there’s a problem in the supply chain? Do you have an alternate supplier?
  • How will you deal with customer inquiries?
  • And so on…

You see, the devil is in the details. Having everything written down will help bring clarity to your plans and hopefully lead you to success!

It will help you weather the storms ahead

Your ecommerce business won’t always be in the green, if at all. There will be times when you’ll suffer losses and feel threatened by the competition.

But if you’ve got a solid plan in place, then you can refer to it and make the necessary adjustments. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, so it’s important to be flexible when the situation calls for it.

In the case of ecommerce stores, scams are pretty common. Scammers can steal someone’s identity and use their victim’s credit cards to buy something from your store. Then, of course, the identity theft victim (not recognizing the charge) will dispute and file a chargeback with their bank.

Depending on the quality of your products (especially if you’re dropshipping), you may have several customers demanding refunds and/or product returns.

Additionally, if you’re going to be building an email list, you may find somewhere down the line that a significant number of subscribers aren’t opening your emails anymore. These inactive subscribers waste precious resources and can even harm your email deliverability. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s how you re-engage inactive customers using email marketing.

These are just a few examples, but as you can tell, these are issues that CANNOT be swept under the rug. You will need to allocate time and resources to resolve problems and put out fires in your business. Otherwise, unhappy customers can brew up a storm on social media and smear your reputation.

Your competitive advantage will help you stay afloat

If your customers can’t differentiate between you and your competitors, then there’s no reason for them to buy from you, right? Your competitive advantage is what will set you apart from the vast number of companies offering the same thing.

Here are a few ways to identify your company’s competitive advantage:

  • How are your products better than the competition?
  • Are you competing on price?
  • What about packaging?  
  • Do you have an edge in terms of shipping and returns?
  • Do you have an easy-to-recall brand name? With so much competition in the ecommerce space, it’s an advantage to have a brand name your customers can easily remember.

In short, your competitive advantage should answer the question, why should the customer choose to do business with you and not your competitors?

When drawing up your ecommerce plan, make sure your competitive advantage is clearly defined. Then go to town creating a strategy centered around your brand’s competitive advantage!

when is the best time to plan an ecommerce strategy

When is the best time to plan an ecommerce strategy?

As you probably already know, it’s best to make your business plan before launching your ecommerce store. This way, you can efficiently build your business from zero and use the ecommerce strategy as your framework for success. 

However, if you’ve been operating for quite some time without a business plan, then that’s okay. It’s never too late to create a business plan. Plus, you can use your experience to identify real threats and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and strengths.

Additionally, a SWOT analysis will be easier to make when you’ve got real-world, hands-on experience. For instance:

  • You’ve already got an idea of what your customers like and dislike about your products/services
  • You’ve built relationships with staff and suppliers
  • You’ve probably seen some results from your early marketing efforts
  • You know who your fiercest competitors are (and they probably know about you, too)

The point is, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, you can benefit greatly from a solid, well-researched business strategy.

Final thoughts

With millions of active ecommerce websites on the web, it’s essential to have a good ecommerce strategy planned from the get-go. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar commerce, ecommerce means being available 24/7 to both local and international audiences. A good strategy will not only help you stand out from the crowd but also smash the competition to bits!   

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