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As an ecommerce entrepreneur looking to launch a new online sales business, you will be full of great ideas and big plans for your website. However, you may not have considered the various legal documents that you need to have in place to ensure the venture succeeds from the outset.

In this article, we will be discussing the main pieces of legal documentation that are relevant to the world of online sales and why these documents are important to your business.

Terms of Business

One of the most critical documents is your Terms of Business. This document sets out the entire legal framework as to how you will do business with your customers.

The Terms of Business is a detailed document and should ideally be professionally drafted to ensure your business is fully protected. You will want to make sure that you have covered off all the aspects that ought to be included, including payment terms, delivery, warranties and liability etc. The customer should have the ability to read the terms before purchasing and you may also wish to include a suitable tick box to confirm their acceptance to the terms.

You also have to bear in mind your customer base. The appropriate Terms of Business for a consumer-facing ecommerce site is quite different than for business-to-business (B2B) sales, particularly with regards to matters of consumer protection.

A robust Terms of Business document helps ensure that your business is well protected in all areas, whilst at the same time giving your customers piece of mind that they are buying from a professional and transparent online business. In the event of any issues arising with your customers, your Terms of Business will allow you to resolve such issues in an efficient and timely manner.

Website Usage

Next, it is important that you have a suitable website Terms of Use document prepared and uploaded to your site. This document acts as a means of setting out clearly to your visitors the ‘rules’ that apply to your site. The Terms of Use will cover areas such as:

  • your reserved rights,
  • website security measures,
  • intellectual property rights in the images and content,
  • usage of any trademarks,
  • liability waivers,
  • rules regarding linking to the website, and
  • the applicable laws

The Terms of Use provide a vital legal framework around the usage of the site, which is in the best interests of all parties. It will deter people from misusing your site but equally will act as an excellent tool in the event they do.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a document which outlines all the terms regarding the customer’s data and how it is collected, used, stored and transferred. This policy will also state the customer’s legal rights under data protection laws with regards to any personal data that may be obtained, including the right to its access, correction and erasure.

All businesses that process personal data must have a privacy policy, so it is vital that you give thought to this document before you begin trading. The size and complexity of your privacy policy will largely depend on your specific type of ecommerce business, with those that are more data-focussed requiring more detailed policies, as you might expect.

Getting Started

By preparing the key documents in advance of launch, you can ensure that your new ecommerce business is legally compliant from day one. This allows you to focus on sales and business growth knowing that the legal aspects are covered. As your business scales and changes over time, you should revisit these documents to ensure they continue to reflect your business accurately.