The Internet as it is today has broken all barriers that existed between people around the world.
Apart from connecting people, the Internet now allows for the creation of businesses for those who want to quit their jobs, who have an innovative idea or simply want to have their own company.
Moreover, it allows these persons to set up their companies in other countries around the world, which can be closer or further from home.
When it comes to ideas for starting a business, the same Internet is one of our times’ greatest providers. The number of companies which can operate online has increased substantially in the last few years and if we stop to think a little, eCommerce companies have become some of the most popular in the world. They also have one of the greatest penetration rates on various markets, if we are to consider their success.
Below we will analyze some general facts about starting an eCommerce business, as well as some of the countries which are the most open and encourage the creation of such companies.
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Company registration – The first step in opening an eCommerce business
No matter the country you choose to set up your eCommerce business, the company registration procedure is mandatory. This implies a lot of research prior to starting the business, drafting a business plan and a deep analysis of the market in order to determine the products or services that the market requires. This will also have a great influence on the company’s success after the first year of business.
Back to what it takes to register the company, it must be taken into consideration that each country has its own laws. These laws usually imply the commercial legislation, the eCommerce and internet-related laws, the consumer protection regulations and the latest GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which applies to companies operating in Europe or with clients in European Union countries. For online companies, this is a must if we are to consider that most of them sell goods to clients all over the world and that the European market is one of the greatest in the world.
So, the company incorporation with the commercial register in the country the online business will operate in is mandatory. Following that, the domain name and the website creation are the next natural steps. These must also comply with the norms imposed by the domain name administrators in those countries. Special considerations, such as the number of characters and words and the sub-domain levels created specifically for eCommerce or online companies must be taken into account at this stage.
Once the company is up and running, the business owner should consider opening a merchant account. This is a bank account designed for processing online payments, therefore it is a must to link it to any type of eCommerce company. It can be opened with a local bank or with a provider that offers such services.
These are the general aspects referring to starting an eCommerce company. We will now focus on some of the best and sought after countries by foreign investors for starting eCommerce businesses. Asia and Europe are two of the continents representing large eCommerce companies. We will focus here on Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand in Asia, and Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, and the Netherlands in Europe.
How to start an eCommerce business in Singapore
Singapore is one of the most developed eCommerce hubs in Southeast Asia and many eCommerce startups which have expanded on a global level in the last few years are registered here.
Registering an e-commerce company in Singapore implies incorporating a business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority for which any foreigner will need to find a local address, appoint a local director and secretary and register a domain name. Also, the limited liability company is recommended when opening any type of company in Singapore as a foreigner, as its incorporation process takes one week. You can discover more details about the process of registering a company in Singapore by watching this short video:
Creating an eCommerce business in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is very similar to Singapore from a company registration point of view, meaning that the chosen business entity should be the limited liability company which requires a local director, a local secretary and an address in the city. The registration process here is pretty much the same as in Singapore.
The difference appears when the company owner must register the domain name for the Hong Kong eCommerce business. The Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation is in charge with the sale and administration of domain names here which can be bought for a minimum period of one year. Also, the eCommerce company can be registered with the top-level name .com or .com.hk, based on the owner’s requirements.
How to start an eCommerce business in Japan
Compared to other Asian countries, Japan is more open to foreign investors who can open companies, including online companies, without that many specific requirements. On the other hand, starting any type of business in Japan implies lengthier procedures, therefore one should know that having their homework done before starting the actual registration of the company is recommended.
Back to eCommerce companies, foreigners should know that they need to have a local director and address for the company which must be announced with the Companies Registry Office, also known as Homukyoku. The domain name of the company must be registered with the Japan Network Information Center. Most eCommerce companies in Japan will have the .co.jp domain name.
eCommerce company registration in Thailand
Thailand is one of the emerging economies of Asia, which is why it is one of the best countries in the region to start an eCommerce company which can go global in a rather short period of time. Thanks to the cheap local workforce, this type of company can recover the amount of money invested rather quickly and can have impressive returns on investment in the first year of activity.
Foreigners who want to open eCommerce companies and also move to Thailand must have at least one local partner and must be at least 21 years old. Domain names are managed and registered by the Thai Network Information Center Foundation which requires an annual fee for the maintenance of domain names. Companies are recommended to use .co.th domain names for selling goods online. We invite you to discover more about the process of registering a company in Thailand by watching this video:
Setting up an Irish eCommerce company
Moving to Europe, Ireland is currently one of the most prolific countries in terms of IT which also covers eCommerce. Supported by large giant companies like Google and Apple, Ireland is the go-to destination for those who want to open eCommerce companies in Europe.
The registration of a company in Ireland implies filing the company’s incorporation documents online with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Moreover, these documents are prescribed, therefore the future owner of the company will only need to fill them out and submit them online.
An Irish eCommerce company cannot run without a website, which needs to be registered with the IE Domain Registry Limited. The company can use the .ie or the .com domain name. A particularity about Ireland is that in order to register a domain name here, the company or the person selling goods online must prove they are Irish residents. In the case of companies, the business registration number which is issued by the CRO will be the proof. For more information about the process of setting up an eCommerce company in Ireland, check out this video:
The registration of an eCommerce company in Cyprus
As a former British colony, Cyprus still relies on English legislation which makes it quite appealing for foreign business people. Also, English is one of the most employed languages in Cyprus; therefore, registering an eCommerce company here is very advantageous. If we also mention that from a taxation point of view, Cyprus has one of the lowest taxes applied to companies on the continent, it is definitely worth setting up such business here.
When it comes to the registration of the company, a foreigner will need a local address, as well as to appoint a local director and secretary, as main requirements. The company must be registered with the Registrar of Companies.
eCommerce companies can also be created as Amazon stores in Cyprus. In this case, the domain name which can end in .com or .cy must be registered with the CY TLD Registrar which is administered by the University of Cyprus.
Setting up an eCommerce company in Germany
Opening an eCommerce company in Germany is rather simple and will follow the same steps as the company registration in other European countries. The procedure is straightforward and does not need any extraordinary requirements in terms of capital or shareholding structure. When it comes to the registration of a domain name, this must be registered with the Network Information Centre.
Germany is currently the “engine” of the European Union, or simply put, the most performant economy in the EU which is why opening an eCommerce business here has all the chances of becoming a worldwide success in a very short time. Apart from this, locally manufactured products have a high value not only on the local, but also on the European market.
eCommerce companies in the Netherlands
The difference between Germany and the Netherlands is not that significant in terms of the economy, however, the Netherlands is a more technical country, if we can say so. The Netherlands hosts some of the world’s IT giants like Google and Microsoft, therefore eCommerce companies can be supported by the experienced workforce leaving these companies.
Registering an eCommerce company in the Netherlands is quite simple, as the government allows for the completion of this process online. The top-level domain name in the Netherlands is .nl, however .com domain names can also be easily registered with private domain name registrars accredited by the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration.
Starting an eCommerce company is no longer complicated no matter the country you choose. Most states require the same information and documents related to the incorporation of a commercial entity with slight differences, while the domain name registration is now cheaper and simpler than ever, and of course, can be completed online.
Those planning on opening an eCommerce company only need to do their homework on what products work in that country and go ahead and launch their business.
Guest author: Andreea Andreescu, Copywriter. Determined, strong-willed and detail-oriented, I like to plan and do everything on time which fits perfectly with the copywriter job I’ve chosen. It was my passion for reading and writing that made me explore my creative side that led me to this adventure 4 years ago.