Sell products or services

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Sell products or services FAQs

Ways to buy and sell products and services is easier than ever. Modern technologies help businesses track sales, manage taxes, invoice vendors, and more. However, there are still laws and regulations to consider such as collecting taxes, obtaining UPCs and applying for patents that small business owners must manage. Fortunately, many resources are available to help business owners start and run a business.

How do I find the best point-of-sale systems for my business?

There are many types of POS systems to choose from, and sales representatives can be rather aggressive which can make it difficult to make the best choice for your business. A basic system can help you process sales, but most offer many more features such as inventory, accounting and security features. Additionally, you'll need payment processing which may be included in the POS bundle or sold separately.

To help you find the best POS systems for your business,

  1. Examine your budget and expected sales (volume and number of transactions)
  2. Make a list of basic features you need
  3. Make a list of advanced and "wish list" features you want
  4. List other apps or software that you may want it to work with
  5. If you have a processing agreement already, review your terms
  6. Make a list of additional hardware you may require (displays, printers, tableside ordering tablets)
  7. Determine how much onsite help you may need with setup and maintenance
  8. Consider whether you plan on expanding by adding registers or additional locations
  9. Make a list of five or more POS companies you want to contact

Take careful notes while you speak with the vendors so you can compare products and services. Once you receive your quotes, estimate how much the systems will cost you in actual use using projected sales numbers. When you are ready to purchase, carefully review the terms of the contract. If you do not review the contract carefully, you may find yourself locked into an expensive long-term agreement that may be difficult to get out of.

Does my e-commerce company need to collect state and local sales tax?

Not all online retailers are required to pay local and state taxes, yet. Currently, large retailers are starting to charge and collect state taxes. Smaller companies are often exempt from collecting taxes if they do not sell over a certain amount of product. However, soon small companies may have to collect state taxes as well. To charge state taxes correctly, you need to know what that state taxes are. If you use a credit card processor or a point-of-sale system connected to a processor, those companies may be able to provide the technology for you to collect taxes correctly. While you may not be required to collect state taxes yet, you should prepare to be able to in the future.

How can I get a Universal Product Code (UPC)?

If you are looking to sell products) online using a large e-commerce distributor, you may be asked to obtain UPC codes for your products. What is often required nowadays is not just a simple UPS number, but rather a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). This is a global product number that identifies the company as well as the product and it can be used globally.

To obtain a unique UPC:

  • Apply for a GS1 company prefix directly through GS1 US organization
  • Assign a unique product number to every variation of your product (size and color), most often 11 digits, GS1 may assign a 12 number as a check digit
  • Decide on how you will package your product and where your code will be displayed (retailer may have requirements for placement)
  • Place your barcodes and use these number to track your inventory

Do I need a sales contract for selling product and services?

For most sales, invoices and receipts are adequate. However, in some cases, a Sales Contract can help protect both sides of the sales agreement. A sales contract adds additional protection from non-payment, product damage and default. It also includes confidentiality agreements and dispute resolution terms. If your sale is rather large or a sale with payment terms, a Sales Contract can help protect you and your customer.

How much does a patent cost? How do I apply for a patent?

Patents are expensive. Obtaining a patent starts at about $1000 and rises quickly from there. If you hire a patent lawyer, expect to pay roughly $300 to $800 per hour or more. However, despite the costs, protecting your unique product is often worth it.

You should carefully research the patent process, but here are the basic steps to preparing yourself for applying to obtain a patent:

  • Compile your notes and research in an organized manner. You may be required to prove that you indeed did invent the product or device.
  • Research to make sure a similar item doesn't already exist. If you find similar items, be prepared to show how your invention is different.
  • Make sure your item is eligible to be patented. Do not start selling your product before you've filed a provisional application for patent.
  • Perform a patent search to make sure, to the best of your ability, that your invention is indeed a new one.
  • File your application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).