Plan to sell goods online?
4 Legal Tips For Opening E-commerce Business
Make sure to check all legal requirements and protect your business from the most common risks.

AppLaw Team prepared a brief guide for 4 key things every e-commerce business has to consider before the launch.
Legalize your business
It is not always a proper choice to start an e-commerce business as a sole proprietor. While it is not that efficient taxwise, the more products are in your store's monthly turnover, the more liability you meet.
So the legal form of your business conduct mainly depends on the types of products you deal in and their amount, as well as the types of your customers, whether they are individuals or business entities. In addition, these factors influence the choice of jurisdiction, which also can be affected by the location of your customers.

Moreover, one of the first steps you will encounter includes obtaining a license or a permit to sell products online. These requirements also depend on your choice of a legal entity and jurisdiction.

In order not to waste your time and money, better address a lawyer who can consult you on the best applicable way to launch your online business.
Deal with your financial matters
The next step after the incorporation of your business is dealing with a banking account. In general, it should be opened in the same jurisdiction you operate. While the requirements and duration of the opening process vary from country to country, you should prepare a substantial package of documents.
In order for a bank to trust you with the opportunity to store your revenue, you should provide certain documents to prove your own and your business's credibility, followed by a detailed corporate structure and business model, expected sources of attraction of initial funds, contracts and prior agreements with your contractors and suppliers.

This list should not be limited only to the mentioned documents, as each bank can come up with its own list.

You should not also forget to include as many payment services on your website as possible for your customers to be able to buy the goods in the most convenient way for them. Apart from credit cards and direct debit payments, the range of offered services can include e-wallets and buy-now-pay-later solutions. Finally, if you want to keep up to date, certain online stores today offer an opportunity to pay for the goods with cryptocurrency.
Protect your brand
Your logo and trademark are what distinguish you from your competitors. Therefore, it is important to have everything registered before you launch your online store.
Apart from the basic IP rights, you should not forget about the copyright on the text and materials placed on your website, used by your managers on social media. This also includes how you regulate your relations with your copywriters, photographers, and other creators of the content used on your resources and how you receive the rights to use them in your business.

It is useful to place a certain copyright disclaimer to give you additional protection against unlawful copying of any brand or product content.

The bigger your marketplace grows, the more IP objects you will accumulate. So do not forget to register them as soon as possible.

Set the terms of use and privacy rules

You should guard yourself with a set of legal documents designed to outline all your rights and responsibilities towards the clients, as well as their rights and duties.

This is a sample list of such documents and disclaimers that should be found on every online store website:

  • a public offer agreement states how a client can order goods, pay for them and receive them, including all warranties you provide for its quality. It can also stipulate the rules for resolving disputes with the customers.
  • a shipping and delivery policy should be added if a store takes over the whole process from gathering and packing the goods till they are received by the client, including the cases when the store uses subcontractors to deliver the order.
  • a return and refund policy is useful when a client refuses to pay for the goods ordered, is dissatisfied with their quality, wants to get his money back or change the order. 
  • a liability limitation policy is useful when the goods are somehow damaged or malfunction without any store's guilt (e.g., because of violations made by the manufacturer), or if a client chooses another delivery service that is not recommended by the store and it fails to deliver the order in time, damages or loses the goods.

If a store provides for making comments or reviews on the website, you should also prepare certain terms that will stipulate the rules under which the comments and reviews can be moderated or removed in case of breach of such terms.

Last but not least, comes a set of data privacy and protection documents. You should clearly state how you gather, store, and use personal data received from your customers. You should comply with the current GDPR rules or other similar regulations depending on the country of their residence and your business operation. Such rules are designed to protect your customers from their data being leaked or used for spam.

It is nearly impossible to prepare this list without a lawyer, especially if this is your first run as an e-commerce entrepreneur.

With legal help at your disposal, you will receive all the documents that will clearly stipulate the boundaries between you and your customers and explain to them how you conduct your business. Having these rules in order will greatly facilitate and strengthen your position in any dispute or conflict if one arises.

Obviously, there are more than four steps you should consider running a successful and legally protected e-commerce business.
You can find out more if you address AppLaw for a consultation.
We can offer the following legal services for e-commerce businesses:

→ advising on the choice of jurisdiction
→ registration of a company
→ support for opening bank account
→ advising on various methods of payment applicable for e-commerce
→ drafting labor and sales contracts
→ drafting sales, supply, and distribution contracts
→ drafting terms and conditions, including shipping and delivery policy, return and refund policy, liability limitations policy, data protection policy (GDPR)
→ support for TM and other IP rights registration
→ advising on protection of IP rights on logo, brand, website content, collaboration products
→ advising on advertisement regulations
→ advising on taxation of e-commerce business
→ support for the preparation of tax and bookkeeping reports
→ support for cybersquatting and domain rights claims
→ support for resolution of copyright infringement claims
→ support for resolution of counterfeit claims
→ support for defamation claims, including claims regarding reviews on products placed on a website
→ dispute resolution with competitors in cases of unfair competition
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