Australian e-commerce websites have legal requirements. You run an e-commerce site and didn’t realise that? Then read on.
If you have decided to start an e-commerce business online, you should not set up your business without understanding the risks for both the customer and yourself as a business owner. These risks can include customers suing you for your products and services (misrepresentation, goods that do not work, damage or loss suffered as a result of your goods, etc.), customers complaining they received a virus from your website and customer information being stolen if your site is hacked.
You need to both limit your risk as well as manage the expectations of your customers. This is best achieved through good ‘legals’ on your website.
When you start an e-commerce business, you are selling goods or services. This means you are taking funds from your customers and as a result, are storing a record of your customers. You need to keep customer details for more than one reason, including:
- As part of the purchasing process
- To be able to follow up and ensure they are happy
- To be able to check if they actually purchased your goods/services, if they come back and ask questions or are unhappy with their goods/services
- To ensure, if they have purchased and if they have a complaint, you are able to address and meet consumer protection regulation requirements
Complying with Australian Privacy Laws gets more onerous
In addition, you also need to ensure you are compliant with the new Australian Consumer Protection laws in your terms and conditions. They require you to stand by your products and services and warrant their suitability and that they match what you advertise. You are also required to meet delivery timing specified, repair or replace any faulty products among other legal consumer requirements. Its important you familiarize yourself with your legal requirements prior to opening your website for business.
Be aware: The ACCC is now reviewing online websites and issuing penalties to non-compliant sites. Both Consumer Protection requirements and Privacy statement requirements are the focus and now being reviewed. The ACCC is choosing to review random online business websites and if they do not comply, they are being given fines and/or timeframes for compliance.
If you really want to set up an e-commerce site and are serious about your business, you must familiarize yourself with the requirements for e-commerce websites. These are just a few legal items you need to consider prior to opening up online, to ensure you can both engage customers and not breach regulatory requirements.