Selling online is easier than ever, and chances are it’s going to stay that way. Whether you’re setting up your own eCommerce store with a platform like Shopify or selling at a digital marketplace like eBay or Amazon, getting started with selling online can be as easy as clicking a button, providing some information, and getting started.
Typically, selling on an online marketplace means that they manage all the legal regulations for you. But if you’ve decided to take the leap and move from a marketplace to an eCommerce website, you’re going to be the one responsible for making sure that you follow the laws, rules, and regulations around online selling. Before you start selling online, you’ll need to take care of multiple legal factors.
Here’s what you should know
You Need an Informative Terms of Service
You’re probably wondering who actually reads the entire Terms of Service – and the truth is that most people probably don’t, but you still need to provide them with one. After all, your customers need to know what’s going on in every corner of your eCommerce business when it concerns them. For example, if a customer signs up and purchases something from your site – but that means that you’re going to send them a monthly email newsletter – you should make sure that they are aware of that. Sending notifications about the contents and any updates to your Terms of Service also helps you build transparency and trust with your customers, which we all know leads to stronger relationships and more loyalty. Check out this review of TermsFeed to get started.
You Need to Protect Customer Data
Online retailers are not exempt from the need to use reputable and secure payment gateways. This is to make sure that any sensitive customer data, particularly financial data, is kept safe and secure. The implications of a data breach for online companies can be huge. If you’re selling on an online marketplace and it does not insist on using third-party companies like PayPal in order to receive money from customers, it is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with local data protection rules and standards. Similarly, if you are selling via an eCommerce website, it’s down to you to make sure that payments are secure. Use a payment gateway like Stripe or WorldPay to make sure that credit card data is encrypted throughout the checkout process.
Protect Your Products and Services
No matter what you’re selling – whether it’s goods, materials, or services, protecting it is massively important. In some cases, this could look like having a clear exchange policy and delivery insurance, while other businesses will benefit from providing customers with an upfront cancellation policy or a process by which they can review services and give feedback. You might have to take out liability insurance, depending on the type of products that you sell to your customers. But above all, good communication is essential. Nobody wants to be left in the dark – least of all a customer. Trust and accountability are crucial for building and nurturing strong relationships with your customers. There’s less room for legal issues when everybody is aware of how they are being held responsible.
Last but not least, consider that all of the above tips are rendered useless if you do not have any record of the transactions crossing your eCommerce website. You should make sure that you always have clear, easy to access records of all online interactions with your customers, for both your protection and theirs. Strict digital record keeping, however, is sadly often an afterthought. And the companies that do not make it a priority are often the ones that land in hot water. Simply telling your customers what you are doing to protect them and their data isn’t good enough; your company needs to have clear records of exactly when and how customers were notified of your online terms. If you don’t, none of your legal effort is going to be considered legitimate in a dispute. Remember, clear communication is crucial.
Selling online might not require as many legal necessities as selling in a physical store, but there are still many factors to consider, especially when it comes to protecting customer data.