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VirtualTeam Consulting, LLC is a business and technology consulting firm focused on early stage companies, technology start ups and companies in transition. We work with firms of all sizes in a number of critical areas. Our experienced and credentialed consultants bring with them a vast knowledge in their respective fields, a track record of success and a commitment to delivering the highest quality results for our clients.

 


CASE STUDY: shopOrganic.com

[click here for shopOrganic.com, an online retailer of organic food, organic body care products and green cleaning supplies.]

 


From Concept to Implementation

At the end of December 2007, we were approached by a person who had over 20 years' experience in the natural foods industry. She wanted to launch an e-commerce site that specialized in organic products - from organic food of all kinds to organic body care products for adults and babies, to organic pet food and green cleaning products. She already owned the domain name shopOrganic.com, she already knew what she wanted to do, but she needed assistance putting all the moving parts together.*

Our Approach

We began by looking at the market and doing a bit of research on current numbers, projected growth and existing competitors. This was done primarily to refresh and verify the data the client already had. Once this was completed, we worked with her to flesh out the business plan and to create an initial view of financials. This is often where entrepreneurs get hung up and that was the case here. With our Certified Financial Analyst, we prepared financials that looked at the start up costs, the cash investment required as well as the potential return on investment for the founder and for potential investors. After verifying the business had a good chance at becoming profitable, we moved on to operational planning.

Our operational plan was a collaborative effort during which we looked at all the moving parts. In this case, it involved identifying organic food and organic product vendors as well as developing an opening inventory list and budget. It also entailed identifying the branding concepts and creating the initial plan for the website.

The website development was a full project in itself, but the founder was extremely helpful in this area. She had done a lot of research on shopping cart technologies and had made a number of inquiries. In addition, her past experience heading up an online division was extremely helpful. In the end, we were able to develop a clear web development strategy and operational plan, which enabled the company to work in parallel paths.

In mid-March, the firm secured a warehouse/office facility, ordered computers, Internet service (implementing VoIP), office and warehouse furniture and supplied. They moved into their facility on April 2 and began setup.

The First Result

The company was formed, the plan created and executed and in early May, 2008, shopOrganic.com launched. The initial inventory included over 1,200 organic, fair trade and eco-friendly products in a wide range of categories from food to household products to children's products as well as organic pet care and health & wellness products.

The next step was to fine-tune the financials and implement initial search engine marketing efforts. The site was designed to be search engine friendly, so only minor modifications were required for SEO at the outset.

Update

In the first 90 days of operations, the company has had initial success. In this case, success is defined as meeting initial sales projections. Though the economic slowdown in the second quarter of the year did have some impact on sales, projections have been in line with results. The company is now in the process of developing a more robust online marketing program as well as optimizing its site based on initial customer feedback.

 

* DISCLOSURE: Susan Snedaker is an investor and principal in shopOrganic.com.

 

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