First of all, the good news is that e-commerce solutions and providers are a dime a dozen. Technology has advanced to the point where an online store can enable many areas of sales that are not possible in traditional sales simply because of store hours.
Still, there are some important points to consider, and the promise of opening an online store in just a few steps should be questioned. This is not to say that running an online store is witchcraft and is not recommended. Nevertheless, the matter is complex, that concerns less the technical implementation, but mainly the practical implementation.
Especially data protection regulations, e-commerce guidelines, right of withdrawal, shipping, copyright and payment systems are subject to strict laws and rules. These must be handled carefully and professionally, and an online agency is not a specialized law firm for online law, which is now its own field.
It's important to rule out cease-and-desist letters in advance, or at least to do everything you can to put your operation on a professional footing from a legal perspective as well.
If you want to build an online store "from scratch", this is certainly a good decision, because you are independent from the beginning, i.e. you are independent from the big global suppliers of goods. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue parallel online sales strategies e.g. Ebay or Amazon, but having your own e-commerce sales is generally recommended.
At the beginning of an online business is certainly a competent advice, alternatively, you can make yourself smart in the very extensive literature. Above all, after deciding to start an online store, you should wait a few days, let everything sink in and then check where you are at the moment with your classic business model and how the online store can be integrated in parallel with your existing business.
Also consider the additional workload and legal guidelines in online commerce, which may not be immediately clear to you at the beginning.
If you are listed in the imprint as the operator of an online store, you are also responsible for everything related to your goods. The online agency that sets up your online store primarily takes care of the technical details and not the legal issues of running your online store.
The technology is so simple that apart from registering a domain name, www.mein-shop.de etc, not much happens at the beginning. But that tempts some new founders to treat the complexities of online law in particular as secondary. You are liable for everything that happens to your online store, at least if grossly negligent mistakes turn out to have been made, even if you didn't make them knowingly.
As a rule, however, these are serious defects that can be excluded immediately. Non-functioning customer service, shipping problems, defective goods, wrong items, wrong invoices - in other words, everything that can happen to you in traditional sales. If the online store is not up to date or even has errors, you can not guarantee a smooth order processing.
Keep in mind that in the big global store eco-system such as Ebay or Amazon, there are many competent people technically monitoring the whole process around the clock. We know this from our own experience, having worked for Amazon ourselves. If there are nevertheless errors, a solution must be available immediately, otherwise the online store goes offline at short notice, which is still better than undiscovered errors.
This is not to scare you, but to reassure you, because this much is certain - almost all Internet agencies have sufficient experience with store solutions. Agencies, experts in store applications, for example, always have contingency plans in place and strive to ensure a smooth process.
Next to the technical structure of your online store, this point is the most important and should be worked through first. Many questions must be clarified, such as: Is it worthwhile for you to sell via the Internet? Is your offer serious? Are you breaking any rules or laws in e-commerce law? This doesn't even have to be intentional or with the worst of intentions, but can happen due to lack of experience.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes: How do you feel when you've ordered something and the product doesn't meet your expectations? What if you can't reach anyone, or you paid for something and didn't receive it, or it's broken, or something doesn't work to your satisfaction. Think about; in traditional sales you go to the store and sort it out immediately, that sounds cynical to funny.
But we can see from this that online retail is in a different league, and especially with the complex online ordering systems, retail also has disadvantages that do not exist in traditional sales.
Now, however, many people want their goods delivered quickly and sooner rather than later. In fact, it boils down to the fact that the online sellers who are the fastest have an advantage over their competitors - speed is the top priority for many shoppers. This makes the whole system of online commerce difficult, and that is why online law has become more complex.
Just look at the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has recently been completely revised. It has become de facto increasingly difficult to protect people from the misuse of personalized data. So it's not surprising that the law or legislation is more favorable on the buyer's side than on the seller's side. If you think about all the things that are bought and returned today, you see that sometimes items are ordered just to be returned.
While this works, it leads to significant problems because in reality the merchandise can no longer be sold as new. Not to mention clothing such as underwear, fashion items, etc. - these are all problems that need to be solved. The fact that the legislator or the law is on the side of the buyer rather than the seller should be clear by now. For ordering systems to work, it must also be comprehensible what happens to the personalized data. Where does it end up, how long is it stored, and for what purpose is it stored? Every ordering system, every interactive form asks for data and stores it at least to enable technical processing in the first place. An online store therefore needs data protection guidelines that always make it transparent to the user what happens to their input.