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Important Terms and Conditions to include if you’re selling online

- March 14, 2023 4 MIN READ
online store terms and conditions screen on tablet

Whether you are just starting out in eCommerce or running an established online store, having clear terms and conditions is a must, writes Love Your Legals founder Shalini Nandan-Singh.

Your terms and conditions provide the basis for all commercial transactions, setting out a framework of rights and responsibilities between you and your customers.

Well-drafted eCommerce policies or terms of sale help to establish and maintain trust between yourself, your business, and your customers so that all parties enjoy a smooth transaction experience.

Today, let’s explore the key elements you should include in your online store’s terms and conditions.

Payment options

Your online store terms should provide clear instructions regarding payment options such as credit card, PayPal, bank transfer etc., letting customers know what payment methods are available.

Outline any fees associated with different methods (if applicable), and information on refunds if a customer requests one due to cancelled orders or other reasons beyond their control.

Setting expectations for delivery

Delivery timelines and estimates are critical to include within your terms, including an estimate of packing times, when customers can expect products to arrive after ordering, and information regarding fees for priority shipping.

Some areas to keep in mind when writing your terms regarding delivery include:

  • Setting restrictions regarding delivery areas. For example, do you only ship to Australia, or is shipping available worldwide?
  • Do different regions have different shipping fees?
  • Are you engaging third-party shipping agents to deliver your products?
  • What happens if the product is damaged during delivery?
  • If you offer free shipping, is there a minimum spend required?
  • Are shipping fees included in discount offers?

Clear delivery timelines help set reasonable expectations from both parties whilst ensuring customers are kept informed throughout the process.

TIP!

Do you have terms and conditions (eCommerce policy or terms of sale) to address delivery delays that may occur, whether in your control or not? A delivery delay policy could include providing customers with timely updates or offering full refunds should the estimated delivery time be exceeded.

cursor clicking on terms and conditions accept button

Returns and exchanges

When it comes to returns for change of mind or defective products, clarifying the necessary steps is essential to prevent unwanted disputes. Outlining specific details, such as who will be responsible for return shipping costs and whether returns will be accepted within a specific timeframe, can give customers peace of mind.

Furthermore, clarifying the requirements of what type/condition goods must be in upon return can ensure that buyers and sellers are duly protected in case things do not go according to plan.

Finally, providing detailed care instructions and safety information will help your customers to understand how best to handle your products. These details help create a safe environment where both parties can confidently engage.

It is essential to ensure you understand your returns and exchange legal obligations in your business jurisdiction. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has many useful resources for businesses on this topic.

How customers agree to your terms

You should ensure your customers clearly understand how they agree to your terms and conditions. This can be done by simply having customers click on a checkbox or ‘accept’ button, linked to your Terms and Conditions, before being able to submit their order – this confirms that they have read and agreed to the contract.

You should also keep detailed records of each customer’s acceptance (e.g. by recording the IP address or date accepted) in case you need evidence at any stage. Most eCommerce stores will hold this data on a customer file.

Listen to Shalini on the Flying Solo podcast:

The benefits of effective terms and conditions for your eCommerce store

Website terms and conditions for an eCommerce store aren’t only necessary from a legal point of view.

They have several obvious benefits that help build a trusting relationship with your buyers:

  1. Clear terms and conditions protect the customer and merchant, providing a secure transaction platform.
  2. Stipulating clear terms and conditions helps to avoid any disputes or misunderstandings between buyer and seller.
  3. Product descriptions, special care and safety instructions included in your terms will greatly help minimise refund and exchange requests that eat into your profitability.
  4. Having terms and conditions in place gives customers greater transparency into what they purchase, ensuring they get exactly what they expect.
  5. Outlining clear terms of service gives customers a point of reference to refer to should any issues arise over their purchase.

Having clearly outlined terms and conditions for an eCommerce store is critical in ensuring the rights and expectations of both the buyer and seller are met, providing a foundation for trust between customers and businesses.

Clear eCommerce terms and conditions set clear expectations and reduce refunds for online store owners. For many eCommerce businesses, a customised terms and conditions policy written by a small business legals specialist is a smart solution to this problem.


This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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