So, you've purchased your first ecommerce business. You have taken a big step in securing a future of greater financial and personal freedom. However, if you aren’t able to manage your relationships, inventory, marketing and procedures well, your acquisition might turn out to be more bust than boom.
The goal, of course, in buying an established ecommerce business is to acquire SKUs, vendor relationships, and processes that are proven to work without putting in 60-hour weeks. However, your acquisition will likely require at least some initial time investment on your part. In most cases, the bulk of the work will generally happen immediately post-purchase. In most transactions, you will have up to 40 hours of transition from the old owner, but you will also need to familiarize yourself with the organization, connect with stakeholders and shareholders, and figure out what you can improve.
Let's go over each of those steps before moving on to what comes next.
Step one: connect with your people
If you've done your due diligence, then you're likely already aware of any business partners or vendors associated with your ecommerce business before you purchased it. These might include:
Reach out to these important stakeholders immediately–introduce yourself and ensure that they will continue to support the business as it transitions to new ownership. In the event that any vendors or suppliers opt to terminate their relationship, reach out to alternatives in order to ensure that you don't have to deal with any major interruptions in your supply line.
Establish a rapport, as these are business partners you'll be working with for some years to come.
Your connection should hit the following beats:
Step two: familiarize yourself with systems
It's likely that you spent at least some time familiarizing yourself with your purchase before it was finalized. You have a general understanding of your customer base, of what products the business sells, and of basic logistics. That's all well and good, but it isn't going to be enough.
Now you need to go deeper beyond simply knowing what your business does on paper. You need to understand the systems you’re inheriting so that you can run it just as effectively as its previous owner, if not more so.
To that end, there are a few questions you'll want to ask yourself.
Step three: find your rhythm and identify opportunities
Within a month or two, you should have a good feel of the cadence of your new acquisition. How much time do you spend on different tasks? Are your SOPs clear and followed regularly? Are products shipped on time and customer concerns addressed quickly? Get comfortable with the “regular” ritual of your business.
Once you have a sense of the normal, be attentive to what’s missing or could be improved.
First, you will want to consider your products and overall market outlook. How is your business' niche likely to change in the coming years? Does this present any opportunities or challenges?
Are there any clear issues with your business' product portfolio or outlook that you can improve upon? Some examples might be a lack of advertising, small margins, a gap in your product inventory, or issues with one of your items.
This is where your newfound familiarity will come in handy. Because you've spent so much time understanding and analyzing your ecommerce business, you should be able to easily identify any strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you didn't notice before you made your purchase. From there, it's simply a matter of putting in the work.
If your business has a website, you'll also want to perform a thorough search engine optimization (SEO) audit of all on-site content. Your goal here is to check for any areas where the previous owner dropped the ball. Some elements in particular that you should watch out for include:
You've done what's necessary to understand your newly-purchased ecommerce business. You've connected with stakeholders and suppliers. And you've established a roadmap for the future filled with potential improvements.
Now you can focus on what really matters—cultivating your investment and growing it into something great.