3 Must-Have Legal Agreements to Protect Your E-commerce Shop
‘Tis the season for online shopping! 🛍
If you’re a business owner that has an e-commerce shop, the holidays are like your super bowl.
Between Black Friday promotions and new product launches, it’s the time of year where you know people are searching for the best gifts to check off all the friends and family on their Christmas list.
And YOUR E-commerce shop has the chance to generate lots of sales and provide an influx of dolla dolla bills to your bank account! 💸
As a business owner that has a digital shop myself, I understand the excitement around this time of year and want you to see the results you’re hoping for.
But as always, more than ANYTHING, I want you to be able to reap the benefits of all of your holiday sales for the long haul.
And the only way that can happen is when you set up your e-commerce shop in a legal manner from the very beginning, which means having certain agreements and policies in place.
Otherwise, allll that money that you bring in from those binge shoppers could actually end up back in the hands of the government through fines and fees.
Not exactly the Christmas wish you were hoping for, huh? 😞
So, let’s keep your E-commerce shop on the nice list this year by making sure you’re dressed for holiday success with ease! ⬇️
What Is An E-commerce Shop?
While it might be obvious what an e-commerce shop is, I’m a big fan of actually defining things so you can better understand if this applies to you.
Because guess what? Sometimes people have an e-commerce shop without even knowing it…
Sounds weird, I know, but hear me out: when you hear the word “e-commerce” you likely think about popular boutiques or online shops that sell physical products online.
And that’s true – those are types of e-commerce shops. But those aren’t the only e-commerce shops that exist.
An e-commerce shop, short for "electronic commerce shop," is any type of online platform or website where businesses or individuals sell products or services online.
These shops allow customers to browse and purchase items or services online, make secure payments, and have the products delivered to their doorsteps or provided as digital downloads or services.
This means that even if you sell digital products, you could technically qualify as an e-commerce shop, which means that the legal agreements that I’m about to share apply to you, too!
Generally speaking, a few key features of an e-commerce shop typically include:
- Product Listings: all e-commerce shops display a catalog of products or services with detailed descriptions, images, prices, and other relevant information (similar to what you’ll find on TBL’s Contract Shop)
- Shopping Cart: with e-commerce shops, your shoppers can add items to a virtual shopping cart and review their selections before proceeding to checkout.
- Secure Payment Processing: most e-commerce shops offer various payment methods, such as credit/debit card payments, digital wallets, and other secure payment options.
- User Accounts: typically, customers can create accounts to save their personal information, order history, and payment details for convenience on future visits.
- Product Search: many e-commerce shops allow users to search for specific products, browse categories, and use filters to find what they're looking for easily.
- Checkout Process: the checkout process for e-commerce orders involves inputting shipping information, payment details, and confirming the order before making the purchase.
So, even if you’re a service provider that sells merch or fun products (even if it’s not your main source of revenue or promotion), you *technically* have an e-commerce shop, which means some extra legal backing is required for you!
How Digital Product Shops and E-Commerce Shops Differ
As mentioned above, if you sell digital products, you’re typically considered an e-commerce shop as well, but it’s important to note that there are a few key differences between the two.
First and foremost being the TYPE of product that you sell.
An e-commerce shop can do both – sell digital and physical products. A digital product shop, on the other hand, sells digital products only (this is what our contract shop identifies as!).
With this, you can imagine that the logistics of an e-commerce shop is vastly different, including the process of shipping and delivering tangible items and managing inventory.
These key differences are the determining factor between the legal differences that each shop requires.
Though the differences might be small, it’s still important to have the correct legal agreements and policies in place, which is why at The Boutique Lawyer, we’ve made it super simple for you to easily find exactly what you need.
But if you fall into the true e-commerce category, keep reading.
3 Ways To Protect Your E-commerce Shop
You know in the movie Mean Girls where Gretchen keeps trying to make fetch happen?
Well, I’m like that, but with privacy policies for business owners.
And I won’t stop until PRIVACY POLICIES HAPPEN!
If you’re going to skip any legal agreement in your business, don’t let it be this one.
(Obviously I advise you to skip none of them, but for real – make this one a nonnegotiable.)
Most privacy policies are fairly similar and include information such as:
- A detailed list of what personal information is collected
- How that information is collected, used and protected
- What rights the user has to the information they share
Here’s why this matters so much and why I won’t stop talking about them:
If you don’t disclose how you use consumer data like cookies, ad tracking and collecting email addresses, you can subject yourself up to $7500 worth of fines PER INSTANCE.
Almost $10k worth of fines?! Yeah, no thanks. 🙅🏻♀️
You’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed, so let’s keep that money in your pocket, shall we?
$50 now to save you $7500 or MORE in the future? It’s a no brainer!
You know when you’re online shopping and you’re required to check that teeny tiny little box that says “I agree to these Terms and Conditions…” before you can purchase something?
Well, your Terms of Purchase is your own version of that!
And while it might feel annoying whenever your checkout process is delayed because you forgot to check the box, trust me on this – you won’t think it’s annoying when this one simple legal agreement protects you from potential refund requests, chargebacks, or cancellations.
That checkbox is called a “clickwrap” in the legal world and is the exact way that I advise business owners to display their terms.
When you set your terms as a clickwrap (NOT a browsewrap), your agreements are more enforceable if any legal action is ever needed!
Disclaimers are another HUGE piece that can protect you as an ecommerce shop owner and works by letting users know the limitations and/or risks associated with using your content.
Overall, these statements are intended to protect YOU as the seller from legal claims and to ensure that users are aware of your website’s limitations and potential risks!
Depending on your industry, there are various types of disclaimers that you may need.
For example, on my website I have a disclaimer stating that The Boutique Lawyer is not a law firm and this isn’t legal advice. This disclaimer statement would protect me if anyone ever claimed that I acted as a lawyer on their behalf!
Disclaimers are huge for all business owners, but especially if you fall into an industry where people expect certain results, such as health and wellness, financial, coaching etc.
Need More Legal Resources?
Helping you protect your business and keep the money that you work hard to make is the name of my game here at The Boutique Lawyer and I aim to make it as easy and as simple as possible for you.
As business owners, sometimes we simply don’t know what we don’t know, so I’m here to MAKE SURE you know the extra legal (and maybe sometimes intimidating) things that are required of you depending on your specific business.For more resources and education on all things legal, browse the blog (I promise I keep what could be boring information FUN) or find the legal learning that you need the most right now!