6 legal requirements for running an online store

6 legal requirements for running an eCommerce store

Legal regulations for eCommerce

E-commerce is rapidly evolving and businesses are trying to adapt to these changes. If you are a business owner and selling products or services online, you should keep these legal aspects of eCommerce in mind.

We will look at:

Mandatory elements for your eCommerce website

As a business person who wishes to distribute products and services via the Internet, you are required to obey European legislation on eCommerce regulations. This means your website must notify users of a series of important aspects:

hand signing a contract document

Pre-contractual information

  • The website must tell the User how contractual procedures regarding products and/or services will be implemented
  • Users must know about the technical means available to them in case they wish to exercise their rights to modify, correct or eliminate information
  • The website must be clear about its Terms of Use – as well as indicating how electronic documents containing information on the provider, client, products and/or services will be stored

Post-contractual information

The eCommerce website must confirm all purchases by notifying the User within 24 hours.

These notifications can be delivered electronically or by any other means indicated during the contractual procedures. The only requirement is that the method chosen must allow the client to save the notification.

Withdrawal period

Under the directive on consumer rights, consumers have 14 calendar days to exercise their right to withdraw from the contract if they are not satisfied with the product.

The eCommerce website must inform the user of this right. If this right is not clearly stated, the user will have a longer period of 12 months.

website cookie tracking

Use of cookies

Cookies are pieces of data sent by websites that remain stored on a user’s computer to facilitate future web browsing. However, cookies can also pose a security risk.

This means that your eCommerce website must have a cookies policy informing the user that cookies are being used when they access the website.

Data protection

When gathering User information (via registration, purchase, or contact forms) from those who visit your eCommerce website, you are obligated to notify the User.

You must also indicate both:

  • Where their personal data is being registered
  • Which management tools they may use for future access, modifications or cancellations

All of these policies are designed to offer a higher level of User security for those browsing eCommerce websites. As an online business owner, you must respect these policies on your website.

It is also recommended that you stay informed on eCommerce in the EU single market, including on the European directives aiming to establish a harmonised regulatory framework among EU countries.

hand checking a list, cup of coffee, newspaper

Checking that your website complies with e-commerce legislation

Before launching your website, you must make sure that it meets all of the requirements on eCommerce mentioned above. If your website is already active on the internet, it is important to review and revise the site to make sure that it meets these rules and regulations.

To help the process, here are some ways that companies can communicate these measures to their Users and Customers. This list can serve as a checklist to make sure that everything is in order on your website or on the site that you intend to create.

You must respond ‘yes’ to all of the following questions:

If my website includes a newsletter subscription or a contact form:

  • Is there a visible link to the data protection policy?
  • Is there a small box that the User must tick to confirm that they have read the data protection policy before sending their information?
  • Is there a small box that the User must tick to confirm a purchase where providing personal information is necessary?

When the user accesses my e-commerce website:

  • Do they receive a message (utilising an interactive banner or a small pop-up, for example) informing them of the use of cookies on my website?
  • Is there a link available with information on the use of cookies?
  • Is this located on a permanent part of the website (e.g. at the bottom of the page)?
  • Is there at least one way in which Users can contact you to find out more on the contractual legal aspects of products and services on your website? (You can indicate a phone number, an email, a contact form, etc.).

When the user makes a purchase on my website:

  • Before completing the purchase, does the User have all relevant contractual information (on delivery periods, payment methods and cancellation options)?
  • Does the user receive notification of purchase – either electronically or through another method – within 24 hours?

Related articles on eCommerce

A lot of platforms and plugins for eCommerce now offer these out-of-the-box and will guide you to areas to simply drop your Terms and Conditions, or Privacy Policy, or they have offer checkboxes for options for GDPR and sending custom emails to your Users.

Being aware is another step in ensuring everything is above board, but it also gives your users extra peace of mind when purchasing from your online business.

If you’d like any help or guidance in ensuring your website is meeting these criteria, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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