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With GAP just one of many business announcing it has given up on the high street, what should you be mindful of when embracing a consumer e-commerce business?
As well as getting the right permits, licences and insurance policies, ensuring your website is eye-catching and easy to navigate, here are some other issues to consider:
Data and Privacy
GDPR (data protection regulations), the not-yet active ePrivacy regulations and online cookie regulations – these are designed to protect user and consumer data and ensure the data collection process is transparent as fines for non-compliance are high
You should ensure your website includes complete and accurate descriptions of products with appealing photos and tools for customers to correct errors before ordering.
You should make sure purchase terms are confirmed on email/paper printout and put in place some carefully drafted terms and conditions, including shipping/delivery and refund policies. This will help you deal with frequently asked questions by online shoppers and protect your position, for example who is responsible for paying delivery costs? What happens if the item is damaged on arrival?
Explain payment methods and any additional charges clearly, you’ll also need to choose a payment gateway to allow you to take payment and verify compliance with the PCI DSS standards (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) – this has been created to reduce fraud, so don’t be tempted to skip this check! It might sound silly but it’s important to ensure you have an explicitly labelled “Order now” button or something similar, to conclude the sale.
A follow up order confirmation email is also helpful to both you and the shopper should there be any problems with the order or dispute around whether the order was or wasn’t placed.
Delivery chains and production
Maintaining production and delivery chains can be difficult, especially for those shops without warehouses
Taxes and import duties
Do your homework on local taxes, import/export duties and restricted goods so as not to get stung by these. You might also need to complete customs forms if you're shipping abroad.
Costs must be accurate and complete and keep customers informed in advance of any delays in shipping
Email marketing is a favoured and cost-effective way to reach existing customers and potentially new customers – you must allow users to opt-in and opt-out of receiving these emails and get their consent to send it out in the first place.
Your website should include your company name, registered address and email address, along with your company registration number if you have one and a company VAT number. This information should be permanently available, so the footer is a good place for it to live or on an ‘about us’ page.
Your pricing should be clear and state whether it includes delivery costs and VAT.
Run it all past a decent solicitor… this may save a lot of heartache down the road.
If you need further advice on getting the right legals in place for e-commerce businesses, call us now for a friendly chat about your needs.