Business Plan for Internet Site Selling Women’s Clothes
Business Plan for Online Retailer
Any firm willing to initiate its business operations at the online platform needs to conduct a full-fledged analysis of its internal and external environment. Similarly, it has to develop a comprehensive business plan to enter the market in an effective and competitive way. A business plan consists of an analysis and description of the venture, identification of the target market, statement of financial needs (estimation of the preliminary expenditures), marketing plan (including the marketing mix strategies), production planning, organizational planning, assessment of internal capabilities, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential risks (in the light of SWOT analysis), financial forecasting, and activity timeline. A well-designed business plan helps a company’s Management in evaluating and implementing its new venture in an effective and efficient fashion.
Description of the Venture
This plan is for the creation and selling of a specific line of women’s clothing, i.e. casual and dress T-shirts. The store will be called as “Casual-Tees” and the targeted market consists of women, aged 18 to 40 years.
Tee-shirts were chosen for various reasons, including:
They are growing as a fashion trend.
They come in easy to fit sizes.
They are a “known” item since they are worn worldwide.
They can bear a substantial markup.
They are inexpensive to ship.
The “Casual-Tees” store will cater to women with attitude. This concept was inspired in part by a recent report concerning Europe and the Internet, which said in part “Europe’s youngest and brightest are bringing the Wild West business mentality east, creating thousands of new Internet companies that cover every dot.com concept under the sun. Yes, it has taken Europe a few years to really embrace the Net” (Dogar, Sacirbey, Theil. Johnson & Thomas, 1999, 48).
“Casual-Tees” will feature several lines of Tee-shirts from “mottos and slogans” that sell for $20 to $25 all the way to luxury silk Tees that sell for $300 and up. The reason for choosing to put this business on the Internet is found in an article by Frook and Karpinski (1999) who point out that “Business on the Internet reached $43 billion in 1998, growing to $109 billion by the end of this year and a whopping $1.3 trillion by 2003” (Frook & Karpinski, 1999, 14).
2. Statement of Financial Needs
The following startup expense items have been determined:
Table 1: “Casual-Tees” Start Up Expenses
Domain Name Registration
FF 16,000 (One year)
It would be smart to add a 20% contingency to this startup amount bringing the total to FF 344,280. The amount of capital on hand to start the business is FF 88,000, resulting in a financial need of FF 288,000.
3. Marketing Plan for Casual-Tees
Marketing on the Internet is essential for success and yet many companies that are successful in land-based, face-to-face operations are finding it difficult to market on the Internet. The first difference is that the Internet requires an information-driven, soft-sell approach that provides answers to questions without “pitching.”
According to an article on reaching the Generation X market (identified in initial research as one solid market segment for Casual-Tees “the soft-sell approach works with [a] mostly twenty-something customer base and [requires] efforts to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for all patrons…Even without the benefit of peer-group insights, many retailers across the country are adopting similarly subtle approaches to attract Generation Xers” (Litvan, 1996, 24).
This will be achieved by creating a comfortable Internet shopping environment, one in which the net surfer will be drawn to and will find easy interfacing for maximization of purchasing.
All of the marketing initially will be done on the Internet using three main media: 1) Search Engines, 2) News Groups, 3) Banner trades. The search engine positioning is the only valid method of marketing. This involves efforts at getting the site registered with the eight major search engines including Alta Vista, InfoSeek, and GoTo, as well as with the directory Yahoo/Europe and Yahoo/France. News Groups are a more subtle kind of marketing, wherein mention of the store and its products are listed as “news” items and transmitted to focused news groups. Some 1,200 of these have been identified as relevant for our market and these 1,200 reach an estimated 800,000 women around the world.
The first two media mentioned have only labor as the primary cost. After an initial positioning is achieved with these media, the Banner Trade program will begin. With such a program, banners are purchased on focused sites and the banners are then linked to the Casual-Tees website.
4. The Marketing Mix for Casual-Tees
The marketing mix consists of the 4 Ps of marketing, i.e. product strategies, pricing strategies, promotion strategies, and place strategies. These four types of strategies will be helpful for the company’s Management in presenting its products to their potential target customers in the most effective and efficient way.
a. Product Strategies:
Casual-Tees aims to build its brand image as a top quality retailer in the French market. Therefore, it will only offer casual and dress Tee-shirts manufactured by renowned local and international firms. Keeping in view the increasing demand for modern and stylish clothes, Casual-Tees will have to choose its product lines very carefully. Moreover, it will have to offer a wide variety of summer and winter Tee-shirts for the women from all age groups in order to maintain a steady flow of customers throughout the year.
b. Pricing Strategies:
In order to grow in the French market with a rapid pace, Casual-Tees will need to attract all income groups and social classes from the target market. Therefore, it has planned to offer Tee-shirts from different price ranges, i.e. from simple and plain Tee-shirts that cost $25-$30 to fully luxury Tee-shirts that start from $300 or above. The company can use fixed pricing as well as seasonal price-cuts for clearance sales.
c. Promotional Strategies:
Casual-Tees will use Internet as the major marketing and promotional medium for its products. The world’s top search engines, news groups, and banner trades have been chosen for the initial marketing campaigns. The company will also use its own website to advertise and promote its products to the potential customers by communicating price comparisons for different types of Tee-shirts, discount offers, color and size variations, new arrivals, and seasonal clearance sales.
In addition to the online platform, the company can also use electronic, print, and social media networking sites to advertise and promote its products. In electronic media, television and radio will be used to communicate the company’s message to the potential customers at the massive level. Social media networking sites will also complement the company’s promotional efforts at the Internet. Moreover, newspapers and fashion magazines are also an effective medium to promote clothing business