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The following are typical areas that an ecommerce site should address in its terms and conditions however this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Disclaimer of liability will specify the damages that one party e.g. ecommerce store owner, will be obligated to provide to the other e.g. customer, in the event of product failure and should reflect the level of risk involved. It will also specify what the ecommerce store owner will not be responsible for in the event of any loss, liability, damage (whether direct, indirect or consequential), personal injury or expense of any nature whatsoever which may be suffered by the customer.
  • Intellectual Property/Trademarks – e-commerce businesses are often more vulnerable to intellectual property theft, whether it be your images, design, content, logos, product descriptions or the overall look and feel of your website. An intellectual property clause should act to ensure that brands or trademarks are not misused in any way and clearly state that nothing contained within the website should be construed as granting any license or the right to use any trademark without the prior written consent of the owner of the website.
  • Payment Terms should set out how payment is to be made when purchasing products and/or services from your website. More often than not, full payment is required when an order is placed by a customer. This means that as an ecommerce store, you are not required to provide any goods until payment has been received. Some ecommerce sites will stipulate that until payment has actually cleared, no orders will be dispatched. In the case where payment does not clear, the ecommerce site has a right to cancel the order completely. These extra clauses serve as further protection to a business.
  • Data Protection should disclose how customer’s personal information will be used, stored and protected.
  • Delivery Terms should cover both shipping and delivery and would typically include what the delivery costs are and how shipping charges are calculated but also (where third party service providers are involved) that the quality of delivery cannot be guaranteed.
  • Product Information & Warranties should set out clear terms on how products can be purchased, whether there are any restrictions e.g. the restriction of sale for age-restricted products and services, and what happens in the event that a product cannot be supplied. Some online stores will also include warranty information as part of their terms and conditions whereas others will have a separate Warranty policy.
  • Right to cancel – This clause should set out the circumstances in which the customer has the right to cancel their order, the process in which they must follow in cancelling their order and any other requirements e.g. goods must remain unused and returned in it’s original packaging.
  • External Links are often provided on sites for the user’s convenience but there should be a clause to state that the links, and the related content, are outside of the control of the ecommerce store owner and usage should be at the user’s/customer’s own risk.
  • Website Terms of Use simply sets out the terms for accessing a website and applies to every single visitor. The terms of use usually cover items such as privacy and prohibited uses of the website.
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privacy policy on an ecommerce site might include:

  • What kind of information is collected from the visitor/customer and why it is required e.g. an email address is required for communication.
  • How the visitor’s/customer’s information is collected and securely stored.
  • Explain if data may be left on a user’s computer, such as cookies (which is often used to track the viewing habits of visitors, make it easier for returning customers to log in and remembers what products were added to the shopping cart. If you offer the option of avoiding cookies, inform them of the website features that will not be available to them as a result.
  • What you will do with the information collected and in what circumstances will it be released.
  • How, if any, of the collected information, is shared or even sold. If shared, it should include an opt-out option for those customers who don’t want their information disclosed to third parties.
  • How customers can review the information a website has collected from them and how they are able to change or delete that information
  • For what period of time is the information held for and who has access to the collected data.
  • The policy’s effective date and a description of any changes since then
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