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People are increasingly turning to the internet to source goods for their everyday needs. Therefore, launching an e-Commerce store can be an excellent way to start or grow your business and tackle a new market. The e-Commerce industry itself is still expanding and likely to develop further into the future. However, the decision to start an e-Commerce store is not a task to take lightly and requires efficient planning and organisation. Plan ahead and do your research so that you can prepare for difficult situations in the future. In the meantime, this article will go through six tips to start an e-Commerce store in New Zealand for some guidance.

1. Make a Business Plan Early

Before you launch your e-Commerce store, you need to define what exactly your business is going to do. From the beginning, you need to assess your intentions for your store and how much you want to grow. These intentions will determine:

  • what kind of website you sell on;
  • how you sell your goods;
  • how you source your goods;
  • what goods you sell;
  • who you sell to;
  • what laws apply to your business;
  • your business structure;
  • the employees you hire; and
  • other important considerations.

Research whether there is a niche in the market for your idea and potential models for launching that idea. Planning ahead can reduce problems in the future and leave you better prepared for unexpected fallbacks.

2. Register a Unique Domain Name

Your domain name is what potential customers will type into their URL to find your business, operating similarly to a physical address for your store. If you are operating from your website, you want to choose a unique and memorable name so that customers will:

  • easily remember your name to look it up;
  • not confuse you with another business; and
  • be curious about your business.

Use a search tool like ONECheck to see if anyone already has the name you want to use. Be careful, as there may be intellectual property rights at play as well.

3. Take Advantage of Online Third-Party Services

Many companies offer services to new e-Commerce businesses to make the startup and operational process much more manageable. For example, E-Commerce platforms like Shopify and Squarespace offer a space for you to set up your online store, and services like:

  • payment portals;
  • order management;
  • postage application; and
  • supplier databases.

For example, if you want to start a dropshipping business, Shopify has a helpful list of manufacturers suitable for such an enterprise.

When you are starting from scratch, these can be good services to aid your business. Additionally, consider web analytics services that help your SEO and other online matters. However, note that you will need to meet the requirements of their terms and conditions.

4. Develop Clear Returns and Delivery Policies

When you regularly sell consumer goods to customers for personal use, you need to comply with consumer law. One of its requirements is that if you do not meet one of your consumer guarantees, you need to supply the aggrieved customer with a:

  • return;
  • refund; or
  • replacement.

Set out how customers can apply for a return in your returns policy and any other situations you allow returns.

For example, the law does not require that you allow returns for a change of mind. However, you may allow customers to exchange goods for store credit if they changed their minds about their purchases. Be sure to outline these cases in your returns policy.

When operating online, you lack the clarity that face-to-face interactions can bring. Therefore, you can make it easier for you and your customers if you set out the necessary conditions and processes in their relevant policies on your website.

5. Get Help With Your Legal Documents

When you sell goods online, you should draft three important legal documents. These are your:

  • sales terms and conditions;
  • website terms of use; and 
  • privacy policy.

These serve to inform your customers about their rights and responsibilities. They also protect your business against future liabilities. To make sure you cover your bases and write appropriate documents that will help your business, seek legal assistance. Otherwise, you run the risk of confusing your customers and inviting consequences in the future.

6. Secure Your Website

You may think that cyber attackers and other malicious actors will not want to target your small business, and therefore cut corners with your online security. However, weak cybersecurity systems invite data breaches. Therefore, you can be liable under privacy law if you did not implement appropriate safeguards on your customers’ personal information. Ensure that you encrypt your databases and connections, as well as other appropriate cybersecurity measures.

Key Takeaways

Launching an e-Commerce store can be an excellent way to diversify your existing business or broaden your horizons as an emerging startup. First, however, you need to prepare and take heed of the law accordingly to avoid future missteps. If you would like more information or help with launching your e-Commerce store, contact LegalVision’s e-Commerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What laws apply to e-Commerce?

You may have laws that apply to your e-Commerce business depending on the goods or services you provide. Otherwise, you should know how consumer law and privacy law apply to your business.

How can I start an online store?

Many e-Commerce platforms have helpful startup processes for launching an online store, providing a web domain to operate from. You may also be able to run from social media. However, first, you should ensure that you can sustainably run your online store.

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