3 things you should do immediately after purchasing an ecommerce business

Christopher Moore

Oct 05, 2020 · 6 min read

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3 things you should do immediately after purchasing an ecommerce business

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:

  • Key employees
  • Important customers
  • Manufacturers or suppliers
  • Agencies and Vas
  • 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:

  • Who you are. What are your credentials, and why did you purchase this business?
  • How much you value their contributions and input.
  • What will change with this ownership transition? If it will continue to be business as usual, note that.
  • Are there SOPs that need improving or tweaking?
  • Your plans for the future, if any.
  • Contact information for anyone who has questions.
  • 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.

  • How often is your inventory turning over? Is there waste, or are you running out of popular SKUs?
  • What is this business' unique selling point? What does it do better than the competition, and why?
  • Who are your core competitors? What does the feedback on their products tell you about how you can improve yours?
  • What are your most profitable products, and why? Are there variations of these you can add to improve sales?
  • What are the core metrics of your ecommerce business? These include email subscribers, social media activity, shopping cart abandonment rate, web traffic numbers, and cost per lead.
  • Who are your primary customers? What are their interests, what are their hobbies, and what are their values?
  • Beyond social media, what sort of web presence does your business have? Is there a Google My Business page? Would it be worthwhile to maintain one? What about a website?
  • What does the marketing and revenue data look like for your new business? How has it changed over the years?
  • 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:

  • Performance issues
  • Broken links
  • Thin content or duplicate content
  • Content that isn't properly targeted
  • Content that isn't evergreen
  • Missing elements, such as title tags, alt attributes, and meta text
  • I'd recommend using either Ahrefs or the Google Search Console.

    Next steps

    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.

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