E-commerce is a booming sector, especially since the health crisis has seen online shopping becoming a consumption habit. Do you want to sell products or services online? It’s time to get started! Thanks to auto-entrepreneur status, opening an online store is easy and quick. Here are all our tips and steps to follow to start your own self-employed merchant site.
create your activity
To be able to sell your products or services on the Internet, you must first create your micro enterprise.
Many solutions exist. If you want to do it alone, you can start your own business online with the website autoentrepreneur.urssaf.fr. Various information will be asked from you on this online form and more specifically about the nature of your activity. This choice is important because it should coincide with your activity as precisely as possible, while leaving opportunities for growth for you. You then complete your self-employed company’s social and tax information and announce the activity start date.
Within minutes, your self-employed company is created and within a week, you will receive a document containing your SIREN number and APE code.
If you choose to stick around during this phase, LegalTech are legal forums that assist business builders with all of their processes.
create a website
Now that your self-employment business is officially created, you need to sell your products or services online through a dedicated website. It’s not a question of designing a “showcase” site that presents your company, but of creating an online store that does what it means. Again, there are many options from which you can choose.
The first is to start with yourself and build your online store from A to Z. This is the most flexible solution but you have to plan to spend a lot of time on it especially if you have no idea.
A CMS such as WordPress allows you to create a personal and unique website.
Specializing in online selling, e-commerce platforms are accessible to all and provide a complete solution to build, manage and administer a subscription online store. Shopify, Wix or Prestashop are among the most well-known, but there are others.
Lastly, you can delegate the creation and/or management of your website to a freelancer or web agency. Of course, the cost will be higher. But it can be the best solution if you have no web development knowledge or little time to dedicate to it.
One of the key elements of your website is that it should be able to accept online payments.
To do this, you need to set up an online payment solution:
- Through a traditional bank: you negotiate a remote sales contract (VAD) to obtain an electronic payment terminal, which is more suitable for stores that generate large amounts of turnover;
- Through an online payment solution, such as Square, SumUp, Stripe or Revolt: They offer competitive and complete offers.
In any case, you have to define what payment means you want to offer and of course compare the different offers (prices but features) before making your choice.
Register on Marketplace
In order to diversify your sales channels, it is essential to present your products on the marketplace. The principle involves listing your products on the marketplace, managing shipments and customer relationships. The Marketplace supports the payment of your order by deducting the commission.
This is an environment that is often very competitive but which brings you visibility and of course new customers.
Amazon, eBay, CDscount, Etsy, are the most well-known marketplaces… but there are also marketplaces specializing in fashion, electronics, services or even food, local or national markets… and other large businesses as well. are getting involved in it.
To best optimize this distribution channel, consider choosing one or more marketplaces that target your customers!
Why Open an Online Store as a Freelancer?
Benefits of Self Employed E-Trader
Self-entrepreneur position for opening an online store is very interesting for several reasons:
- The formalities of setting up a micro enterprise are simple and quick;
- The administrative management of the small-enterprise is reduced thanks to accounting obligations that boil down to maintaining a register of income and expenses and a monthly or quarterly declaration of turnover;
- Social charges are based on turnover, they are zero if turnover is zero;
- You can take advantage of VAT exemptions if you meet certain turnover limits, thus allowing you to sell your products or services at lower/more competitive prices;
- The tax regime has also been simplified as you are subject to income tax and can opt for lump sum payment;
- It is possible to combine auto-entrepreneur status with salaried activity.
Disadvantages of Self Employed E-Trader
Micro enterprise also has its limitations:
- Turnover is limited: €176,200 for a commercial activity and €72,600 for a service provision activity (and be careful, this is not profit, but the total amount collected before deducting expenses and encumbrances);
- If you don’t take VAT (and are therefore VAT-free), you also can’t deduct it from your expenses.
Legal obligations to open an online store
Even though a micro-entrepreneur position is simple and suitable for selling online, there are many obligations to know and respect before you begin.
Several rules have been published in the Consumer Code to protect the consumer.
The first concerns the withdrawal period. The consumer has a minimum period of 14 days to cancel his order without assigning any reason and receive an exchange or refund. This right of withdrawal should be reflected in the T&C and the withdrawal form should be made available to the customers.
The second is related to the time of delivery. You are bound to indicate the maximum delivery date at the time of placing the order and proceed with the refund if the order is not delivered within this period.
When ordering, your Customer indicates his/her surname, first name, address, telephone and email address, means of payment, etc. That’s why you keep personal information about your customers. As a result, you must comply with the rules for collecting and processing this data imposed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Typically, GDPR compliance is broken down into:
- Consent form (which may refer to a dedicated and more complete page if necessary) to clearly inform the Customer about the terms and processing of the data;
- A contact form so that your customers can contact you and exercise their rights regarding your data (correct data, conflict, delete data, etc.).
The rules regarding the collection and processing of personal data on the Internet are important and you should be vigilant.
General Terms of Sale (GTC)
The General Terms and Conditions of Sale (GTC) govern the relationship between a seller and a particular customer (they are not mandatory, but still recommended if you work at BTOB). They should be available on your site and easily accessible by your customers. They include essential information:
- Information related to your micro-enterprise: name, contact details, siren, siret, VAT number (if applicable), RCS number, site manager and hosting, etc.;
- terms of prices (excluding or including VAT, reduction, etc.), means of payment and terms of delivery;
- terms of withdrawal, terms of delivery and return;
- Customer Warranty.
Your terms and conditions can be drafted by yourself (there are models online, but be aware of the risk of error), a legal professional (lawyer or jurist) or by a legaltech.
Some tips to get your e-commerce off to a good start
Now that you know the construction steps and the obligations to honor to build your online store, here’s our ultimate advice for completing your project.
Make sure you have a detailed and solid business plan!
Before proceeding with building your micro-enterprise, or even from the first thoughts on your project, you should draw up a business plan. It consists of a first part on the presentation of your project and a second part on its financial analysis. Firstly, it is a really essential tool for you to assess the feasibility of your project. But you will also be asked by banks or other investors.
Your online store should be visible, lively and convincing
Before launching your online store, you can already start communicating about your project. Crowdfunding campaigns, social networks, … are all great tools for getting people to talk about themselves. And once your activity is running, you should continue to activate the various web communication and marketing tools:
- Search engines with natural reference (SEO) and SEA campaigns;
- Social networks: Facebook and Instagram;
- Animation of a blog,…
You can also add product reviews, customer testimonials (and take advantage of this feedback to continue improving your offers!), a loyalty program, sponsorships.
To help you out, online digital marketing training courses teach the basics to novices or the most experienced with general or specialized courses as per your needs. Don’t hesitate to take a look at self-employment training courses with diverse and customized content to help you get started as a self-employed individual.
questions to ask
What is the budget for opening an online store as a self-employed person?
The process of setting up a self-employed company is free. To budget for opening an online store, this includes, among other things, website building, hosting, maintenance, communication and marketing costs, etc. It varies from a few hundred euros to several thousand euros.
Can we set up an online store for free?
No. You have to pay at least the hosting of the site (about 10€/month). Again, free online store building solutions are limited. It is better to move towards open source software which is economical but takes time.