Even if you don't want to sell online, you may find it helps to actively manage your presence online, to showcase your business offering and strengthen your brand. We look at social media in Brand & Marketing. If you want to set up your own website, you need a domain name. If you do want to sell online, via your own website or on an online marketplace, make sure you comply with relevant legalisation.
For people to be able to go to your website, you need to link it with a unique address on the internet - a domain name. See Domain Names for more information.
Buying Domain Names
Choose a domain name with a prefix (the bit before '.com' etc.) that is the same as/similar to your brand name and with an appropriate suffix: top level domains (eg '.com,' '.org,' '.uk,') may cost more than second level domains (eg '.co.uk,' .org.uk').
Try to buy before registering your company name or trade mark, to avoid being on the radar for 'cybersquatters' (see below).
Buy a domain name from a reputable domain name registrar - you may want one that can offer website design toolkits, server and email services (although see Websites below).
Challenging Domain Name Ownership
You may find that someone has already bought a domain name that uses your business or product name.
Unless they have a legitimate reason for doing so (for example a similar or identical business name), they could be 'cybersquatting' and you may be able to have the domain name cancelled or transferred to you.
You will need to show that you have rights in the relevant business name or trade mark, and show that the registration/use of the domain name in question by someone else is 'abusive' or made in 'bad faith', where the owner intended to take advantage of or be unfairly detrimental to your rights.
Claims are usually made on the basis of relevant trade mark rights: engaging an intellectual property lawyer will help your chances.
When setting up your website, consider:
Design: who will design the website? Will you do it yourself using a simple online toolkit or engage a website designer?
Hosting & Support: who will provide the platform, servers to host your website? Can they guarantee sufficient stability and security? Who will support and maintain the site?
When you are operating your website, there are a few legal requirements to comply with. You will need to include clear information or links on your home page to the following:
Privacy & Cookie Policies: for managing customers' personal information to comply with data protection.
Your Business Details: contact details and, if appropriate, company registrations details and VAT registration number.
See Website for more information.
You may want to open a shop on an online marketplace such Etsy, eBay, Amazon etc.to sell your products, as well as or instead of your own website.
There are advantages and disadvantages of an online marketplace shop compared to running your own website that you may want to consider. In short:
You get the benefits of a well-organised shop and payment system run by reliable company with a large, global customer base.
However, it comes at a price (listing fees, % on sales), and you are one of many competing sellers.
You will be asked to comply with the 'house rules' of the relevant online marketplace, but don't forget that you still need to comply with statutory consumer-protection requirements, including offering the cancellation period etc. See Selling Online for more information.
All the major online marketplaces also have their own complaints processes to deal with claims that particular products being sold constitute infringement of copyright or other intellectual property rights. See Online Copying for more information.
See Online Marketplaces for more information.