To open an online store, it is important to comply with the legal requirements and carry out all the necessary formalities. Let’s see together how to start the business, what documents are needed and how much it costs to start selling online.
How to open an online store?
The first step to open an online store is to identify the legal form with which to start this type of business. A webshop, in fact, can be opened as a company or sole proprietorship or as a company (SRL, SRLS, SPA). With the sole proprietorship, the owner cannot have partners but benefits from simple management and reduced expenses. With the company, however, the expenses are greater and the management more complex but the owner can find partners and is not directly liable for any debts of the business.
The various types
Another important aspect to start the business is to choose the type of online store to start. In particular, it is possible to:
- Open e-commerce, an online store where the sale is managed by the owner of the site who sells the goods purchased from a supplier directly to the final consumer
- Open a drop shipping business, a variant of e-commerce in which the owner sells products without having his own warehouse, entrusting the order received to an external supplier
- Open an e-marketplace, a web platform that serves to connect customers with different sellers (egg Amazon or price)
What it takes to start an online store
The formalities necessary for a webshop are the same as those required to open a physical shop. In particular, to start selling, you need to open a VAT number with the right ATECO code for e-commerce. Furthermore, it is necessary to register with the business register, register with INPS and submit the certified report of start of business (SCIA). These steps can be carried out with a single telematics procedure called Communicate.
When you can sell without a VAT number
If the sale takes place occasionally, i.e. sporadically and not continuously, it is possible to sell without a VAT number. This is the case of the sale between individuals, for example, when you sell your used computer with an advertisement on the internet. If, on the other hand, you want to create an online store, you need a VAT number because the activity is always continuous.
Other requirements for online sales
In addition to the basic requirements, further steps are envisaged for the sale of food products online. In particular, the holder must be in possession of a SAB certificate (administration of food and beverages). To this is added the HACCP certificate necessary for the sale of food products preserved or produced by the owner. It is a certificate for the prevention of risks arising from the treatment and sale of these products.
To sell on the web, the seller must comply with a series of disclosure obligations. In particular, all the mandatory data for a website must be published on the site and the following documents are required:
- General conditions of sale to regulate online sales with customers and fulfill legal obligations regarding the right of withdrawal, product warranty, shipping, delivery, etc.
- Order confirmation document to be sent to the customer with each purchase made
To start an online store, the owner must also comply with a series of moral requirements and not be:
- a habitual, professional or tendency offender
- among those who have received a final sentence of not less than three years in prison
- a definitively convicted of receiving stolen goods, money laundering, fraudulent insolvency, fraudulent bankruptcy, usury, robbery, crimes against the person committed with violence, extortion
- a convict definitively for crimes against hygiene and public health
- among those who have reported two or more convictions, in the five years prior to the start of the activity, for crimes of fraud in the preparation and trade of food provided for by special laws
How much does it cost to open e-commerce?
Opening e-commerce has the advantage of having a flexible organization with reduced costs. In fact, neither the fixed costs for the rental of a site nor those for the salaries of the sales staff have to be borne. Costs are even lower with drop shipping, also known as an online store without a warehouse, also saving on logistics costs.
The overall costs of opening an online shop change according to the chosen legal form. In particular, the costs for the sole proprietorship amounted to approximately € 200 for registration in the business register and between € 50 and € 1,000 for the SCIA. On the other hand, if you open a company, you have to incur additional costs for setting up with a notary. The costs of setting up an SRL are about € 1,500, while those for an SRLS are about € 400.
To these expenses must also be added the costs for accounting management by an accountant. For example, we rely on an expert for the registration of cash flows and tax return. Costs may change according to the tax regime and the type of business carried out. The sole proprietorship has lower costs (about € 300 per year on a flat-rate basis), the company, on the other hand, involves more expensive management (about € 1,000 per year).
The online store, in some cases, may involve additional expenses. In fact, when the holder sells food products he has to bear a cost for the HACCP certificate and for the SAB certificate. In particular, the HACCP has a cost of about € 150 and the SAB certificate has variable costs from about € 300 to € 600 depending on the city in which the relative course is carried out.