Barnes and Shirley who are a eCommerce marketing agency and consultancy invited us to feature on their website to share our knowledge regarding eCommerce terms and conditions.

Terms & conditions should be the first legal document that you put in place when starting a new business. Time and time again, we at BEB see clients coming to us once things start going wrong, such as invoices being chased, obligations being disputed, contracts being walked away from and dissatisfied customers doing all they can to get a refund.

Taking terms & conditions from a similar business will not protect you the way having them tailored to your business will. Not only will they not be as specific, but they may be illegal, you may not be able to rely on them in court, and they may not have even been written professionally to begin with. Another benefit to having tailored documents means that you will be able to fully understand them and clear up any queries your customers may have, thus improving the relationship.

You only need one set of terms & conditions for your business, even if you offer various services. BEB charge a fixed price for documents, which is great since it is a document that you can use time and time again for every future client, knowing that your business is properly protected.

Why is it important to have written terms?

When your business is an online shop it is crucial that you have your terms and conditions clearly stated on your website and that each transaction is bound by them.

There are many reasons why…

One of the main reasons is to ensure you are kept up-to-date with relevant legislation and regulations that protect consumers. With the law on your customers side your terms are your protection that seek to ensure that sometimes the ‘customer isn’t always right.’

An example of this is, you must offer a minimum cooling-off period of 14 days for consumers to cancel the contract from the date on which it was formed and a further 14 days after delivery. You must state the laws for online and distance selling as you are required to share certain information and will be penalised if you do not do so. If your terms are not legally compliant and therefore not enforceable this could have a real negative effect on any relationship or professional image you may have.

What is your returns policy? Who pays for postage? If you don’t state that they do on returns, then automatically you must cover this cost. There are lots of things to consider regarding delivery. What would you do if the item was sent back to you as wasn’t able to be delivered? It wouldn’t be fair for you to pay for delivery again since it was down to them for not collecting the goods from the local depot or where ever it might be. What about faulty goods? What is your process? Are you sure you acting within consumer law when dealing with unhappy customers?

Having a well-written set of terms & conditions will fully protect your position should any problems arise. Think about who would be your most awkward customers and how would you respond to them if they had an issue with any sale. Your terms become your go to guide should you deal with a complaint.

Also, as you are processing customer data such as, by taking orders, having a contact form on your website or using a mailing list, you must have a privacy policy clearly accessible on your website that is compliant with GDPR. Users of your website must give express permission, such as by ticking a box, to be sent marketing emails, and you must provide them with instructions on how to unsubscribe from these emails. This isn’t the only lawful basis for sending marketing, but you must state in your privacy policy what lawful basis you are relying on. If they have bought from you, of course you can send marketing BUT you must run a tight ship you can’t send marketing for ever.

If you are still thinking that you can continue business without terms & conditions, or by using ones you have taken from another company, then look at it in a different way. Having one agreement that applies to all future clients provides you with a much more professional image. Your customers will have more confidence when buying from you as they will feel comfortable and see that you take your business seriously.

If you own and run an eCommerce site then please get in contact, our prices are affordable and all the advice you receive is bespoke to you.