Reading time: 5 minutes

Staring an e-commerce business means you have a wider pool of customers you can reach across the globe. To access this market, all you need to start is a stable internet connection and a reliable machine. Therefore, it is feasible to start an e-commerce business without an office. However, whether you can do so depends on the circumstances of your business and your working preferences. Therefore, this article will explain how you can start your e-commerce business without an office.

Starting an E-commerce Business

There is a lot to manage when starting an e-commerce business, so you must have a solid business plan to organise your affairs. Some aspects that you need to consider before launching online include:

  • what you are selling or offering customers;
  • your target market and competition;
  • your business structure;
  • any laws or regulations that apply to your chosen industry, such as privacy and consumer law;
  • shipping and returns;
  • managing customer service;
  • financing your business;
  • managing tax;
  • employing staff;
  • online marketing;
  • business branding, such as product names and logos;
  • building your online presence; and
  • how you will drive traffic to your site.

The advantage of an e-commerce business is that most of your activities can occur online, so it is feasible to start one without a dedicated office space. In fact, you can very efficiently work from home. However, depending on the nature of your business, you may still need a dedicated space to carry out some business functions.

Planning What You Are Selling

A significant factor contributing to whether you need a dedicated physical space for your e-commerce business is what you are actually offering customers. If you deal with large amounts of inventory, you will need a place to:

  • manufacture it;
  • store it; and
  • deliver it from.

It is possible to manage this from your home space, particularly if you make your products yourself. However, your business may grow to a point where you cannot deal with the large amount of products that you sell. Therefore, you need to gain access to a warehouse or manufacturing space. A common way to do this is to engage with an existing manufacturer and develop an agreement with them to develop your product.

However, some e-commerce models do not require you to deal with physical products at all. For example, if you run a dropshipping business or just sell digital products, you will not need to worry about managing inventory.

Building Your Online Presence

Your e-commerce website replaces your office or store where customers can see the products or services you offer. Therefore, you must take the time to build up your online presence to present what you offer in the best light and attract customers. This fact applies regardless of whether you sell from your e-commerce website or shop on an online marketplace. As a result, you need to:

  • make your website/store visually appealing and easily navigable;
  • provide as much information as possible about your goods or services;
  • maintain social media as a useful point of contact and advertising for your business;
  • manage SEO and drive website traffic;
  • use safe and accessible online payment gateways;
  • invest in proper cybersecurity measures;
  • protect customer privacy; and
  • keep your website up-to-date.

NZ Startup Manual: A Legal Handbook For Founders

Essential reading for anyone building their startup. This free guide includes practical advice and seven real-life case studies.

Download Now

Working With Your Team

In a typical office space, you have ready access to your team at any time of the workday. In the past, running an e-commerce business without an office space may have reduced this accessibility. However, with numerous video calling and conference software available for you, your team can all feasibly work from home to manage your e-commerce business. Therefore, if you want to rely on remote staff, you need to invest in a reliable video conferencing service and develop appropriate policies for working from home. If you need to meet in person, you can take advantage of co-working spaces in your area.

Note that, as an employer, your health and safety responsibilities towards your staff still apply when they work remotely.

Interacting With Customers

Another purpose of an office is to provide a space where your customers or clients can meet you face to face. However, you do not necessarily need a dedicated physical space to provide this function. As with your employees, you can take advantage of video conferencing software to meet your clients or hire a conference room if you need the physical space. Outside of these times, the main ways you will be communicating with your employees may be through:

  • email;
  • social media; or
  • other online communication services.

These communication methods are convenient, but you need to ensure you put in the extra effort to be accessible to your customers. Make sure it is clear how they can contact you and respond to customer concerns promptly.

Key Takeaways

If you manage your affairs appropriately, you can successfully start an e-commerce business without an office. However, the feasibility of this depends on numerous factors and does require some planning. If you would like more information or help with starting your e-commerce business, contact LegalVision’s e-commerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an e-commerce business?

An e-commerce business sells its products and services online rather than through a physical store. Instead, consumers buy their goods/services from the business’ website or online shop.

Can I start an e-commerce business without an office?

Because you sell your products or services online, you do not necessarily need a physical space to manage your business affairs. However, you will need to account for things that an office provides, such as replacing face to face contact with your team with video conferencing.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards