How To Evaluate The Worth Of An eCommerce Business

Looking to sell your ecommerce business potentially? Or maybe you want to buy one and don’t know how to tell what it’s worth.

Naturally, you wouldn’t want to sell your business for less than it’s worth. And you certainly don’t want to overpay for a business worth much less.

Introduction: The Current State of Ecommerce

With two decades of experience in the ecommerce industry, it’s no surprise that significant progress has been made. What is particularly fascinating about this sector is that there is an emphasis on melding online and offline experiences for consumers, creating a tangible connection with brands. Moreover, even smaller firms can benefit from ecommerce successes due to democratization.

Calculating the financial statements associated with e-commerce can be a great way to discover its worth and understand why we should appreciate its presence. This entails examining cash flows, outlays, gross revenue, and net profit.

How can you evaluate an eCommerce business to understand what it’s worth?

Determining Your Ecommerce Business Valuation

Digital Consultants know that every business has a fair value, which a seller and a buyer can use to negotiate a final deal. There are several valuation methodologies you can use to determine the fair value of a business.

Let’s look at what it takes to evaluate an eCommerce business for its worth fairly. Valuing an online business on sale takes careful calculations and access to vital information; what we’re offering isn’t a direct how-to. However, knowing a few primary valuation methodologies can help point you in the right direction and help you make an informed decision before buying or selling a business.

Ecommerce Business Valuation Methodologies

You can determine the value of an eCommerce business in a few ways. Each uses different factors to determine worth; some methodologies are better suited for certain situations than others. The type you choose will largely depend on the business in question.


When talking about business metrics, SDE (Seller’s Discretionary Earnings) and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) are two of the most commonly used to measure a company’s financial performance.

While they are related, they measure different aspects of the company’s financial success: SDE focuses on the actual cash flow of the business, while EBITDA looks at the business’s profitability without accounting for cash flow. SDE evaluates a company’s cash flow by looking at all the costs associated with running the business, including salaries, taxes, rent, and other operating expenses.

This metric provides a better indication of the amount of cash a company actually has in its accounts, and it’s widely used to assess the business’s performance and determine the amount of cash available to its owners. EBITDA focuses on the business’s profitability and excludes non-recurring costs such as one-time charges and non-cash expenses.

This metric is used to compare the company’s profits to other companies in the industry and to track the company’s performance over time. In addition, it’s used to evaluate a company’s potential for growth—it’s a good metric to use when considering investments in the company.

While both metrics are useful for assessing a company’s financial performance, SDE is the more useful of the two for determining the actual amount of cash a business has in its accounts. EBITDA is better for comparing the company’s performance to industry standards and evaluating its growth potential.

Both metrics should be considered when evaluating a company’s financial performance.

How Can I Calculate My Business’ EBITDA?

To determine EBITDA, there are two options. Firstly, consider the company’s profits and subtract any associated operating costs. An alternative calculation is Net Income + tax + interest expenses + depreciation & amortization. To ensure the best result is acquired, it is recommended to employ an analyst as they have experience estimating the EBITDA averages, which normally lie between 3.0x and 6.0x.

EBITDA Multiple Method of Valuation

EBITDA translates to income before interest and amortization. This provides the most accurate measure of an organization’s financial performance.

SDE Multiple Method of Valuation

SDE is a measure for understanding sales history and revenue. The calculation compares a company’s underlying value (the multiplying factor) and discretionary earnings. The SDE multiple average values ranged from 2.0x to 2.0x, respectively. Let us say that you own $500,000 in an SDE account that transacts for a 3x SDE multiple. Your company’s implied values are $30,000.

Revenue and Growth-Based Valuations

When analyzing ecommerce companies, SDE and EBITDA can be particularly important metrics. However, these indicators may not be as meaningful for those businesses investing heavily in technology or setting up for future expansion. In such cases, it could be appropriate to forecast future revenues based on current earnings and growth rate even though expenses currently exceed profit. It is worth noting that compared with SDE and EBITDA, EBITDA is a more unstable evaluation method, so it should only be used when SDE or EBITDA are unsuitable.

The trend of your business is a key indicator buyer will assess to decide whether or not your offering meets their needs. Believe it or not, an ebb in progress can even be advantageous and result in a greater price-to-earnings multiple. The rate of growth can have a great influence on the buyer’s decision-making process as well. While some companies may rapidly expand within the next ten years, most customers would prefer services that are dependable -even in challenging economic climates. Rapid development has the potential to breed more inquiries surrounding its sustainability. Ultimately, purchasers must decide how your methods for scaling up will play out over time.

Multiple of the Seller Discretionary Earnings

You might evaluate a business’s worth by looking at its historical earnings. Start by looking at the business’s net profit for the past ten months, then multiply it by a given number (typically between 1.5 and 5, depending on the situation). The result is the company’s valuation.

For example, an online shoe store made $50,000 in net profit last year. Based on the factors at hand (for the sake of the example, we don’t know those factors), this number will be multiplied by 2. Therefore, the business’s worth is $100,000.

The multiplier is determined by a set of factors that the buyer, seller, and broker agree on. These factors include scalability, the workforce required to run the business, and the company’s past growth. When favorable factors are agreed on, the business’s expected worth will be higher during the valuation.

Determination of Earnings

The simplest way of estimating an online retail business’s earnings is to calculate the net revenues. For firms worth more than $10M, it almost entirely uses the Seller discretionary earnings methodology.

The Three-Month Window—The Window that Shall Not Be Used

Valuing and assessing websites over a 3-month window is generally not taken into consideration. It can be difficult to accurately appraise a business’s history within such a brief time; consequently, this limited period doesn’t garner much attention from those who analyze website assessments. Yet, for young businesses that have adopted the 3-month window approach to evaluation, it can produce successful outcomes with valuations reaching $30–100K – a figure most customers are able to pay for businesses established over such a short timeframe. However, larger enterprises will need fewer buyers as the value far exceeds six figures.

Discounted Cash Flow Analysis

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Analysis isn’t the primary way to evaluate the worth of an eCommerce business, but it is a useful analysis.

The DCF analysis aims to show what a company will be worth in the future. It’s the estimated return on investment for purchasing the company, adjusted for time and inflation.

A DCF analysis is best suited for traditional businesses with a stable history. Online business sales fluctuate more widely than traditional businesses, making this analysis less suitable for eCommerce. However, it can offer a decent look into what a company will be worth in the future, whether or not the projections are as accurate as they might be for a traditional business.

Precedent Sales

Gauging the worth of a business can be done by considering what similar operations in the same market are selling for. However, it is essential to remember that this should not stand alone as an accurate measure of value, and there need to be other factors taken into account. Before assessing relevant precedent sales, one must first understand what companies are comparable, including size, duration of operation, annual revenue, etc. Precedent sales can be used to set a fair evaluation of company value and bring both the buyer and seller back to reality when they have unrealistic expectations.

Revenue Multiple Method of Valuation

Similar to the ecommerce valuation modes mentioned below, the multiple revenue methods depend upon understanding your value multipliers. This mainly depends on your ecommerce business size and your current situation. There’s no precise rule for revenue valuation multiplication, though PeakBusiness Valuation reports that this could range from 0.3x to 0.5x. Basically, the calculations are simply multiplied by the total sales and revenues from a website or app. If your firm sold a total amount in the last quarter worth $250,000 – the company will have a value estimated at $25,000.

Understanding Valuation Factors

No matter what methodology you choose, certain valuation factors are at play when determining a company’s value.

Customer Base & Market Outlook

A company with an active customer base and positive market outlook will be worth more than a company without active customers or a profitable niche.

An active customer base means the company has many repeat customers, and buyers return to make repeat purchases regularly. When a company has an active customer base, this shows their products are of quality and buyers are interested in working with them over a period of time.

By comparison, what does it say when a company sells a product once, and the customer never cares to return? This will be the case for some shoppers, but if no one is returning, it may be a sign customers aren’t happy with the products their getting.

Customer base factors can also include:

  • Size of a company’s email list
  • Churn rate
  • The uniqueness of the customer base
  • How quickly the customer base is growing
  • Number of competitors in the same market and how they stack up
  • Costs of acquiring new customers for the company

Brand Recognition

Buying a recognizable ecommerce brand is more profitable than buying one without a well-recognized brand identity. Identifiable brands tend to have larger customer bases and will prove more profitable to you as a result.

Branding is crucial to any eCommerce business. Otherwise, the only way to compete is by offering the lowest price on a product. However, good branding can mean a loyal and growing customer base, an already-established web and social media presence.

Established brands may also rank more highly on Google because of their recognition. This is invaluable to you as a buyer because you’re getting a head start on important organic exposure.

Store Traffic

Ecommerce stores rely on traffic. The more people visiting your store, the more likely you are to make sales.

Online businesses with high daily traffic are considered worth more than those with lower numbers. More traffic means more exposure, which again means more sales.

Because traffic comes from many different places, and spikes in traffic don’t necessarily translate to spikes in sales, more traffic doesn’t always mean your company is worth more. Ideally, you should have high-paying traffic – those who visit your store and make a purchase.

Operating Costs & Financial History

Like any other type of business, eCommerce stores require some overhead to keep their doors open. Before you buy a business, you need to know what it will cost to keep it running and how profitable it will be for you once the overhead costs are met.

Some operational costs and factors to consider when valuing an eCommerce company include:

  • Scalability – How well can the business grow to meet market demand? Is there room for the business to expand into new markets?
  • Underlying cost structure – How will the underlying costs be transferred to the new owner? How can underlying costs be cut?
  • Product concentration – How much of the company’s revenues rely on certain products? Do too many products make up for too few sales?
  • Supplier agreements – Will the business’s suppliers stay with them after selling the company? Are there any special agreements you should know about beforehand?

Comparing Yourself to Other Ecommerce Businesses

If you look at our marketplace, you may feel it will help you estimate your value by connecting businesses that earn similar revenues. How much does a company sell in return? Unfortunately, it’s not working. There are far more considerations involved in valuing online companies that could be simpler. Give a professional evaluation.

Business Age

Generally speaking, the longer an ecommerce site lasts, the more attractive it will be. During your time at the business, you have also demonstrated your ability and willingness to provide services and continue to do so.

Inventory Management

For ecommerce businesses, inventory management costs have decreased significantly due to dropshipping and other outsource warehousing options. For an efficient and thriving company, it is essential to implement a comprehensive inventory control system. Fortunately for those using QuickBooks or Xero for financial operations, this software supports managing inventories. They both directly sync with Shopify along with many other marketplaces.

Streamlined Logistics and Fulfillment

For e-commerce businesses, there is huge potential to refine their logistics and fulfillment processes. Delivery of goods is critical for online retail – surveys have revealed that shoppers unsatisfied with the delivery experience will never purchase from an electronic vendor a second time. With Amazon’s Prime service increasingly popular, the speed of product delivery has reached unprecedented levels.

Customer Satisfaction

To ascertain customer satisfaction levels, looking into preliminary research is essential. Trustpilot is an invaluable resource for brokers and prospective buyers as it provides a clear insight into people’s opinions of your company. Showing openness and transparency with negative reviews goes a long way – providing individual details of the incident and how it was resolved. Honesty is essential to build trust with the buyer. Additionally, the customer retention rate can be seen as another barometer of contentment – Shopify’s dashboard offers an easy-to-use breakdown of this statistic.

Financial Health

Evaluating the worth and financial health of an ecommerce brand doesn’t come easy. However, it’s a necessary step you must take before finalizing a sale. If you do it right, you can get a very accurate idea of what your company (or future company) is worth and make sure you’re getting a fair deal during the sale.

No two valuation factors are treated alike, and each has its weight on the company’s value. If you want to be a successful buyer or seller, be smart about the valuation process and pay attention to all factors.

Skimmable FAQ’s

How much can I sell my eCommerce business for?

The amount you can sell your eCommerce business for depends on several factors, such as the size and scope of your business, the products and services you offer, and the strength of your customer base. You’ll need to review comparable businesses’ financials and market analysis to determine a fair market value for your business. This will help you come up with an estimate of what the business may be worth. In addition, you’ll want to take into account any unique features or competitive advantages that your eCommerce business has. This could include things like a strong online presence, a loyal customer base, or a reputation for excellent service. All these factors will help you determine the business’s value. Finally, it’s important to factor in the current state of the eCommerce market. If the market is strong, you may be able to get a higher price for your business. On the other hand, if the market is weak, you may have to adjust your expectations accordingly. By taking into account all of these factors, you can get a better idea of how much your eCommerce business may be worth. With a realistic understanding of the business’s worth, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate a fair sale price.

What are the top methods for valuing an ecommerce company?

Valuing an ecommerce company can be challenging since various criteria are used to determine an accurate value. The most common methods used to value an ecommerce business are the discount cash flow (DCF) method, the comparable transaction method, the market capitalization method, and the discounted earnings method. The DCF method estimates future cash flows and discounts them back to a present value. The comparable transaction method involves comparing your business to comparable sales from industry peers. The market capitalization method values ecommerce businesses by multiplying their current market price by the number of outstanding shares. Lastly, the discounted earnings method involves estimating an ecommerce business’s expected earnings and then discounting them back to a present value. Each of these methods can be used to value an ecommerce company accurately and should be considered when conducting an analysis.

What is the rule of thumb for valuing a business?

The general rule of thumb for valuing a business is to multiply the business’s revenue by a factor of 3 to 6. This factor is determined by assessing factors such as the type of industry and the number of earnings the business is generating. For example, a business in a rapidly growing industry such as technology or e-commerce would usually be valued at the higher end of the range (4-6x revenue). On the other hand, a mature business in a slow-growth industry may be valued at the lower end of the range (3-4x revenue). Furthermore, businesses generating strong earnings may be worth a premium to those not generating consistent profits. The rule of thumb for valuing a business provides a quick and easy way to estimate a business’s worth, but it does not replace the need for a more detailed and accurate financial analysis.

How is eCommerce valuation calculated?

Ecommerce valuation is generally calculated by assessing a business’s current and future profitability and potential growth. This is done by considering factors such as the revenue generated, the business’s current financial health, and the strength of its competitive position. Additionally, estimations are made about future cash flows and then discounted back to their present value. This is done by creating a financial model of the business. Considering all of these factors, you can build a financial model for your business, and your ecommerce business can be accurately valued. If you’re unsure how to do this, you may need to consider a course like this one in London. Most ecommerce companies use different valuation methods, such as the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method, Comparable Transaction method, Market Capitalization method, and Discounted Earnings method, to create a comprehensive assessment.

How many times revenue is a business worth?

The amount of revenue a business is mainly worth depends on the industry’s strength and the amount of profits the business is generating. Generally, businesses in rapidly growing industries will be worth more than businesses in slow-growth industries. The rule of thumb for valuing a business is to multiply its revenue by a factor of 3 to 6, depending on the above factors. However, businesses with strong profits may be worth more than this rule of thumb suggests. Ultimately, the exact value of a business is determined by its unique factors, and the most accurate assessment comes from a detailed financial analysis.

What is the multiplier for eCommerce business?

The exact multiplier for an eCommerce business can be challenging to determine, as it depends on various factors such as the company’s growth potential, future cash flows, and competitive position. However, the rule of thumb is to use a 3-6x multiplier when valuing an eCommerce business. This multiplier range is generally used because eCommerce businesses are in rapidly growing industries and are often worth more than traditional businesses. Additionally, businesses with strong cash flows and favorable competitive positions may be worth more than this range suggests. The most accurate way to value an eCommerce business is by conducting a more detailed financial analysis.

How many times is net profit a business worth?

The exact multiplier for valuing a business based on its net profit depends on various factors, such as the company’s industry, growth potential, and competitive position. Typically, businesses with strong profits and rapidly growing industries are worth more than businesses in slow-growth industries. The rule of thumb is to multiply the business’s net profit by a factor of 3-5, depending on these factors. However, this is only a guideline, and the exact value of a business is ultimately determined by its unique factors and more detailed financial analysis.

Why is a business’s future growth potential important to buyers?

The future growth potential of a business is important to buyers because it directly affects the amount of money they can make from the investment. If a business is in a rapidly growing industry with a high potential for future growth, it will be more attractive to buyers than a slow-growth industry. Buyers want to maximize their return on investment, and the best way to do this is to invest in a business with a strong potential for long-term growth. Additionally, buyers may also consider a business’s competitive position and the potential to acquire additional customers and revenue. When valuing a business’s future growth potential is important, buyers should always consider this when investing.

How much is a Shopify business worth with $1 million in sales?

The value of a Shopify business with $1 million in sales depends on various factors, such as the business’s profits, growth potential, and competitive position. Generally, Shopify businesses with strong profits and a strong competitive position are worth more than those with weaker profits or positions. The rule of thumb is to multiply the business’s revenue by a factor of 3-6, depending on these factors. However, this is only a guideline, and the exact value of the business is ultimately determined by its unique factors and more detailed financial analysis. In summary, a healthy Shopify store with accelerating revenue above $1M could sell its store for $3M. The acquirer would then apply its operational strengths to grow it to $20M+

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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