What is an ecommerce terms and conditions (T’s & C’s) document?
An ecommerce Terms and Conditions document is a specific page on your ecommerce shop. It sets out your businesses Terms and Conditions for selling your products online. It is a legal agreement between your business and a person or customer who wants to purchase from you.
The document has a variety of sections included that legally cover you as an online business in the case of any disputes arising. In this blog, we’re going to look into what makes up an ecommerce Terms and Conditions document. And also provide you with a free template for your online shop.
Why ecommerce businesses should have a T’s & C’s page
There are a few reasons why as an online shop owner you need a Terms and Conditions page on your website, among other important pages. Firstly, it provides you with legal protection. Even though it isn’t a legal requirement to have Terms & Conditions on your online shop, it is still important to have them. Without you may risk legal action being taken against you if you have a very disgruntled customer.
Legal disputes that arise from not having a clear set of Terms and Conditions from the start can end up costing you a lot of money and valuable time. All this can easily be avoided with a simple Terms and Conditions page.
Your Terms and Conditions page will also help with building trust in customers. Being completely upfront with your customers about how you trade and operate from the beginning will help reduce the number of disgruntled customers from the get go.
But trust is one of the most important aspects of an online shop. Showing your customers that they can trust you with their money and credit or debit card information is invaluable in being successful. Your Terms and Conditions page can also help build trust with customers.
Amongst trust, a Terms & Conditions page also protects your property. Including your website’s content, logo, page designs and other branded materials. This informs any users that your properties are protected by copyright and trademark laws. This includes how others may lawfully use your materials.
Your Terms and Conditions page ultimately protects you, your business and any intellectual property relating to your ecommerce shop. You will be thankful that you sorted out your Terms and Conditions later on. So let’s get into what’s included on a Terms and Conditions page.
What’s included on a T’s & C’s page?
If you’ve never read or written a Terms and Conditions page before, there are a few important things you need to include. There are also a lot of free Terms and Conditions generators out there. However,h they will be generic and not specific to your businesses needs.
Whilst every website and ecommerce shop is different and has different needs within their Terms and Conditions. There are a few common components you should consider.
Limitation of liability
Within your Terms and Conditions, you will need a liability disclaimer. Which is a statement from your business that denies any responsibility for damages that your visitors may suffer as a result of using your services.
You can take a look at an example on EKM’s own Terms and Conditions page.
Pricing and payment terms
This may be the most important part of your Terms and Conditions. It has saved many businesses from being taken advantage of. This section needs to address online purchase and pricing-related topics. As well as your transaction processes, shipping and delivery terms, and returns and refunds. You will also need to link both your shipping and delivery and returns and refunds to their respective pages on your website.
If you have a money back guarantee, much like EKM do, you will need to explain the return and refund process in detail in your Terms and Conditions. If you however have chosen to not offer refunds for your products, you will need to link to a no refund policy or all sales are final policy instead.
You should also include:
- The payment methods you accept on your ecommerce shop (Visa, Mastercard etc)
- Details about missed or late payments
- Further detail on how you handle refunds and returns as well as payment disputes
A small section that states that despite your best efforts, on-site information might not be up-to-date and that certain information (e.g. product descriptions, prices, stock quantities etc) may change without notice.
Keeping on top of all the information your ecommerce shop holds in itself is a full time job. So this ensures that even if there is a mistake with pricing or product quantities, you are covered.
You may not think that external links need to be included in your Terms and Conditions – but they do. If you link to third party websites, you need to disclose that such links are outside of your control and usage should be at the users own risk.
The intellectual property section refers to your businesses trademark and copyrighted content including images, names, logos, patents, videos and designs. This section lists the materials that belong to your business and describes the rules and restrictions for their usage by outside parties.
User generated contributions
If you allow for customers and other website users to contribute content to your ecommerce shop such as reviews, ratings or comments, then you’ll need to include a clause describing the do’s and don’ts of contributions. Including who will be able to control and access the user-generated content on your ecommerce shop.
Lastly, a dispute resolution section depicts how conflicts and controversies related to your terms and conditions are dealt with.
Most disputes can be handled one of three ways. And how you decide to handle disputes will determine what you include in this section.
- Deal with the dispute in court
To do this you would need to include information about which courts will handle the case, the court location and the governing laws that apply.
- Binding arbitration
Essentially, a mediator will be settling the disputes if you choose binding arbitration. If you choose this your dispute resolution should include where the arbitration will take place, the legal regulations that apply, how fees are handled and what the process is.
- Informal negotiations
You may also choose to resolve any disputes informally, via direct channels with the customers. For this you would need to include information on how long negotiations will take and how the process will work.
However, you choose to go about creating your Terms and Conditions, making sure they have everything they need is crucial. If you’re not comfortable with drafting such a document, you can reach out to local solicitors for support creating Terms and Conditions for your ecommerce shop.
What is a Terms and Conditions policy for an ecommerce shop?
Why do ecommerce shops need Terms and Conditions?
Where do I put my Terms and Conditions in my ecommerce shop?
Your Terms and Conditions policy should be hosted on your ecommerce shop or website, and linked within the footer. This is a consistent place across your entire ecommerce shop and is therefore visible and accessible at all times.