Amazon. Ebay. Etsy. Poshmark. Digital marketplaces have made it overwhelmingly simple to sell things online. Opening an Etsy shop is as easy as clicking a button, providing some information, payment, and then you’re on your way! When you sell on a marketplace, they typically manage the online legal regulations, but what happens when you are the one responsible for following online selling rules and regulations?
Multiple legal things need to fall into place before you start selling online - starting with reviewing typical online selling laws. Since we’d hate for any of our followers to fall into selling on the black market, here are 5 legal things you should know for selling online.1. Have an informative, concise Terms of Service:
Your customers deserve to know what’s going on within every nook and cranny of your eCommerce exchange. If a customer signs up and purchases from you, but that also includes you sending them a monthly email- you need to tell them that. If pricing increases for customers purchasing goods or services through a subscription model, they need to be notified. Having notifications about the contents and updates of your Terms of Service is an easy way to build trust and transparency with your customers. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you to make your eCommerce agreements count.
2. Protect all of the data:
Just like any retailer, online retailers must have reputable payment gateways. If your online marketplace isn’t using third party companies such as Paypal for your avenue of payment, it is your responsibility to be compliant with local data protection standards. Non-compliance is a lawsuit fire extinguished only by you losing tons of money. Personal data, credit card data, and identity all must be protected within online purchases. Become PCI compliant, understand the steps you need to take to encrypt credit card data for your checkout flow, and do away with other purchasing data.
3. Protect the goods:
Whether you’re selling software, a service, or materials, it’s important to protect what you are selling. In some cases, this might mean having delivery insurance and an exchange policy. In others, it can be as simple as providing customers with a cancellation policy upfront, or a process for service review and feedback. Good communication is important. No one wants to be left in the dark, especially a customer. Nurture customer relationships like you would any other - with trust and accountability. If everyone is aware of how they are being held responsible in this two-sided relationship, there is less room for legal blunders.
4. Meet your best friends: Trademark, Patent, and Copyright:
Your company is probably the best thing since sliced bread, we know that. But, have you checked to make sure no one else has thought of this same idea? Infringing on the ideas of others is bad. I’m sure you would consider someone infringing on your idea as more than bad. Take the necessary steps to research your product or service, and make it legally official.
5. Start keeping records from the get-go:
All of these tips are void if there is no record of transactions crossing your website. You will always need to have easily accessible records of online interactions with customers. This is for your protection and their protection. Exceptional digital recordkeeping is too often an afterthought and lands companies in hot water. Telling customers how you are protecting them is not enough. Your company needs to record when and how customers were notified of your online terms in order for any of your legal efforts to be considered legitimate.