The Big eCommerce Cash Flow Guide: 6 Steps to Secure Your Finances

Published: | By Anthony Martin

What if I told you that 82% of small businesses collapse due to poor cash flow management? That staggering statistic should make any eCommerce business owner sit up and take notice.

After all, cash is the oxygen for companies, and without adequate cash flow, even the most promising ventures can wither and die.

So, how can you make sure your eCommerce business doesn't become part of this very troubling statistic?

By mastering cash flow management. Easier said than done, right? Especially when you have countless other responsibilities competing for your time and attention every day. 

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Between acquiring new customers, fulfilling orders, handling returns, managing inventory, and everything else needed to operate your business, cash flow often gets neglected until crisis strikes.

But what if you had an easy-to-follow playbook to secure your financial footing for good?

In this ultimate guide, we boil down the cash flow mastery into 6 absolutely crucial steps designed specifically for eCommerce merchants.

Ready to finally stop worrying about the cash flow? Let's dive in!

Step 1: Analyze Your Current Cash Flow



Shawn Plummer, CEO at The Annuity Expert, explains, "The first critical step is to closely analyze and also understand your business's current cash flow.

This means tracking all the money coming into and going out of your e-commerce business on a granular level.

Specifically, break down and categorize your income streams, including sales revenue, returns, and also refunds, and everything else.

Do the same for your expenses like inventory, shipping, advertising, payroll, taxes, and also all other operational costs."

Creating a detailed income and expense report allows you to truly see where cash is generated and spent in your own business.

Analyze the data to uncover the trends, peaks and valleys, and also seasonal fluctuations.

Determine which products or services drive the most profit versus which ones may be dragging you down.

Identify the unnecessary or excess costs that can be eliminated to improve the cash flow.

Doing this cash flow analysis illuminates the financial health and also viability of your business model.

The key is to drill down into the nitty gritty financial details instead of just looking at the top-line revenue.

Understanding the mechanics behind the numbers is very crucial to forecasting, budgeting, and making decisions to optimize your finances and secure sustainable cash flow in the future steps.

So take the time to carefully analyze and get intimate with the dollars flowing through your eCommerce company.

Identify problem areas or opportunities and prepare for the improvements as you progress through the subsequent steps in this cash flow guide.

Step 2: Improve Sales and Revenue Strategies



Focus on converting more site visitors into paying customers. Carefully analyze your sales funnel and identify where the drop-offs occur.

Are visitors adding items to the carts but not checking out? Think about offering free shipping or discounts to incentivize the completed purchases.

Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer at Checkr, adds, "Instead of just selling products, think about new ways to make money."

"You can offer a subscription service, team up with others for affiliate marketing, sell digital stuff like ebooks, or provide extra services that go along with your products."

"Getting money regularly, like with subscriptions, helps keep your cash flow steady. It's not just about selling things; it's about finding different tunes to play and making sure the money keeps coming in smoothly."

Optimize pricing strategies using competitors' pricing and also sales data to determine ideal price points.

Avoid steep discounts that may devalue the products. Instead, offer free bundled items or free shipping to encourage larger order values.

Segment your customer base and offer tailored promotions to each and every group.

For example, offer first-time purchase discounts to acquire many new customers while providing loyalty rewards to repeat customers. Personalized offers convert better than general ones.

Continuously A/B test various components of your sales process.

Test the checkout flows, page layouts, calls-to-action, email funnels, and also more. Incrementally improve each element through data-driven experimentation and also analysis.

Small optimizations compound over time into many major gains.

Step 3: Manage Your Inventory Efficiently

Carefully tracking and managing your inventory is very crucial for both the cash flow and also customer satisfaction.

Start by organizing your products into ABC categories - A being the top 20% of products driving 80% of sales, B being the middle 30-40% by revenue, and C making up the bottom 40% or less.

Focus most of the attention on keeping As stocked, setting the reorder points, and securing reliable sources to avoid stockouts.

For B and C items, consider placing limits on the inventory to reduce carrying costs.

Analyze the sales data to determine ideal quantities - enough to meet demand but not overstock.

Slow sellers may only need a handful kept on hand with occasional replenishment, while faster products require higher stock levels and also quicker restocking when they sell out.

Leverage inventory management software to automate the reordering, provide oversight into the real-time counts and also sales velocities, and enable back ordering when out of stock.

This visibility allows smarter planning and purchasing to align with the true demand.

"Monitor for stagnant or obsolete products without any recent sales. Clear out older merchandise through sales, bundles, or donations annually to free up the cash otherwise trapped in illiquid assets."

"Keeping inventory fresh and also moving ensures proper product-market fit, improved cash conversion cycles, and operational efficiency." - Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing at Ninja Patches.

Proactively managing your inventory not only streamlines operations but also helps boost sales by ensuring your best-selling products are always available to meet customer demand.

Step 4: Optimize Payment Terms and Processes

When it comes to handling cash flow effectively, the timing of the payments coming in versus going out is very critical.

Optimizing payment terms and streamlining processes can ensure you get paid much faster while continuing the operations smoothly.

Andrew Pierce, CEO at LLC Attorney, advises, "Take a close look at your payment terms and see if any adjustments make sense."

"For example, can you shorten the payment windows, offer discounts for prompt payments and impose penalties on overdue ones to incentivize on-time payments?" 

"Even shaving 7-10 days off could very significantly accelerate cash inflow. Additionally, make payment convenient via options like saved cards, PayPal, and Google/Apple Pay. The easier you make it, the faster you'll get paid."

Double-check your invoicing processes. Are invoices going out promptly and also accurately reflecting the orders?

Automate as much as possible with the accounting software rules and templates.

Make sure someone is tasked with following up at each stage - order receipt, invoicing, the payment due date - so that things don't slip through the cracks.

Assess the bottlenecks or waste in the workflow, like manual data entry that slows turning orders into cash.

Identify the weak links and see if automation, software integrations, or task reassignment could speed up the order-to-cash.

For example, integrate your POS system and accounting software to seamlessly flow the order details into invoices for faster processing.

Optimizing the underlying processes and terms for receiving customer payments can work wonders for the cash flow.

Evaluate where the inefficiencies exist, where you have leverage to adjust the terms, and how you can facilitate quicker customer payments.

A few tweaks could accelerate the cash inflow by weeks per payment cycle.

Step 5: Cut Unnecessary Expenses

When it comes to eCommerce finances, evaluating the expenses and cutting the non-essentials is very crucial.

Be ruthless here - every dollar saved goes directly to the bottom line profits.

Implementing rigorous expense tracking at this stage can uncover which expenditures are not contributing to your business's growth, allowing for more informed decisions on cost reductions.

Puneet Gogia, Founder at Excel Champs, says, "Start by classifying all the expenses over the past 3-6 months."

"Categorize them as fixed (like the must-haves like web hosting and shipping supplies) or variable (nice-to-haves like advertising and software subscriptions). Now comes the tough part - decide which variable expenses are not generating enough revenue or growth to justify their cost."

"For example, that SEO service that hasn't improved your rankings or the social media manager who hasn't grown the followers. As difficult as it is, you need to trim the excess fat. Analyze the ROI on these services and cut the ones that aren't contributing."

Next, see if you can negotiate any fixed expenses like the merchant processing fees and hosting.

Service providers want to retain you as a customer and often may offer discounts, so it never hurts to ask.

Examine your tendencies. We often rationalize unnecessary purchases as "for the business."

Be very diligently honest with yourself here. Do you really need that expensive software with all the bells and whistles, or is a more basic version sufficient?

Every entrepreneur needs to watch even small expenses very closely.

Step 6: Plan for Taxes and Contingencies



  • Plan for taxes

Catherine Schwartz, Finance Editor at Crediful, emphasizes, "As your business grows, don't let the tax obligations surprise you."

"Set aside an estimated percentage of each sale to cover the income taxes, payroll taxes if you have employees, and sales tax if applicable."

"An accountant can help determine the appropriate percentages so you don't get hit all at once when the tax time comes."

Additionally, learn if you need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to avoid any penalties.

If so, factor those into your cash flow planning. As your income changes, revisit your tax set aside percentage to make sure it still makes sense.

  • Have a contingency fund

Gerald Lombardo, Head of Growth at Popl, explains, "No matter how carefully you plan, unexpected expenses inevitably come up - a new marketing campaign, equipment repairs, and replacements, or even having to refund customers. This is why a contingency fund is very critical."

"Aim to set aside at least 6 months of operating expenses as a contingency fund, so your business can survive regardless of what gets thrown your way."

"Self-insuring through an ample contingency fund means you won't desperately need credit or loans every time something goes wrong."

  • Replenish as needed

After tapping into your contingency fund, prioritize rebuilding it as quickly as possible.

Trim any unnecessary spending if you need until you get back to that 6-month balance.

By planning for surprise taxes and expenses in your cash flow model, you can handle these cash flow killers without sabotaging all your hard work.

Your business will enjoy greater financial resilience and also peace of mind.


Ensuring a healthy cash flow is very vital for any eCommerce business. By following the crucial steps laid out in this guide, you can set your business up for financial stability and success.

First, analyze your numbers to understand where your money is going and then identify areas for improvement.

Then, optimize the operations to boost the profits, whether through reducing costs or finding any inefficiencies.

Leveraging the inventory and order management systems can provide helpful insights. Additionally, focus on converting visitors into repeat, loyal customers.

Satisfied customers that come back time after time are the key to steady cash flow. providing an excellent user experience and solid customer support nurtures these valuable relationships.

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