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There is a lot to consider if you want to sell your e-commerce business, particularly if you want to sell your e-commerce website itself. Not only do you have to worry about domain name transfer, but there is also the matter of selling the contents of the e-commerce website. For some guidance, this article will focus on the process of selling the contents of your e-commerce website, particularly if it is a Shopify site.

Selling Your Website

Depending on the context of how you sell your online store, there will be numerous considerations for you as the seller. For instance, how you sell it will change depending on whether you are only selling your website or selling it as part of an overall business sale.

However, regardless of how you sell it, you should prepare it adequately before finding a buyer. What this looks like exactly will depend on your business plan, but may include:

  • preparing any contracts (such as developer agreements) for transfer;
  • increasing SEO efficiency;
  • preparing documents/information for an information memorandum (such as web analytics summaries);
  • summarising website traffic;
  • advertising information;
  • compiling social media metrics;
  • reviewing encryption certificates;
  • renewing your domain name; and
  • reviewing your online documentation (such as privacy policies and website terms of use).

It may be useful to engage a website broker, particularly if you want to sell internationally and sell your own bespoke site. However, if you are looking to sell your e-commerce site from an e-commerce platform, how you sell it will depend on the platform itself.

Selling Your Shopify Site

If your website uses the Shopify e-commerce platform, they have their own marketplace for users wishing to sell their websites. You can list your Shopify site on the Exchange Marketplace, regardless of how new or old your business is. However, there are a few requirements that you need to meet to list your site on this marketplace, including:

  • being the Shopify store owner;
  • being over 18 years old;
  • having a fixed asking price, rather than relying on an auction-style format;
  • having the right payment plan;
  • not being in a trial period;
  • being in good standing if you use Shopify Payments;
  • using only the Exchange Marketplace to communicate with buyers in the selling process;
  • resolving any outstanding legal or risk issues with your store; 
  • complying with Shopify’s Terms of Service and other agreements; and
  • completing the final sale using the Exchange Marketplace’s Escrow service.

The exact process of selling your business on the Exchange Marketplace can get complicated, but if you have organised your business’ important website documents, this can help immensely. 

If you are eligible to sell on the marketplace, you can create a listing that Shopify will need to approve. If they do, that listing will go onto the marketplace for buyers to see. Then, buyers can send you messages, and hopefully, make an offer. 

Once you have a prospective buyer, you will need to go through the marketplace’s Escrow service. This process is a secure transaction that covers various aspects of the sale, such as:

  • asset transfer;
  • due diligence and inspection periods;
  • ownership transfer; and
  • fund dispersal.

It would be useful to understand this process fully before you use the Exchange Marketplace so that you can adequately prepare your website. To do that, you can find more information on Shopify’s website.

Transferring Ownership

The process the previous paragraph outlines is only specific to Shopify e-commerce businesses and can involve selling the entirety of your website. This process can include any intellectual property you have created, such as:

  • written content;
  • copyrighted photos/images;
  • website logos;
  • branding imagery;
  • product names; and
  • shop data.

Therefore, you need to be certain that you want to include these assets as part of the sale of your website.

This fact is also a consideration even if you are selling your website through other means. Therefore, it would be useful to seek the advice of a legal professional with experience in asset transfers, particularly in digital and website assets. They can ensure you are in the best position to sell your website at a fair price.

If you created your website using an e-commerce platform, you will need to check their terms and conditions to see if they have any particular rules for selling a website on their platform.

Key Takeaways

Selling your website can be a deceptively complicated process, so good documentation and organisation are vital. If you run your website through a particular e-Commerce platform, such as Shopify, they may have their own dedicated processes for selling your site that you can take advantage of. However, even if they do not, they likely will have terms and conditions that may apply to your sale, so you must take these into account to avoid disputes down the road. If you would like more information or help with selling your e-commerce or Shopify site, contact LegalVison’s e-commerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an e-commerce website?

An e-commerce website is a digital platform that allows you to set up your e-commerce business. In addition, they can facilitate customer payments and provide website templates for you.

Is Shopify a good e-commerce website?

Shopify can be a good option for your e-commerce business, as it provides many of the technical aspects that such a business needs to run. It can provide a good start for small businesses.

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