Legal Considerations Before Creating An Online Shop

Creating an online shop can be very profitable, provide a great online presence for your company, and produce a well deserved income. It is worth bearing in mind several legal considerations before getting an eCommerce website, as UK laws are tightening up on protecting customers and companies alike. As technology progresses, so too does the law, trying to catch up as best it can to make sure it is up to date. Here are some simple tick lists that you will need to think about before starting your online shop.

Getting an Online Merchant Account

You will need to have a bank account set up before/during the site being built. This can be done with your bank. They will charge a percentage of every transaction – there are many deals out there. You will need this so that the money has an account to go to when someone pays for a product on your website.

For more information on the best accounts available in the UK, check out the following website which has some great options.

Get a Security Certificate

I won’t bore you with the technical details, but an SSL certificate is not an option anymore, and Google are enforcing that people use SSL or they show a ‘warning – this website could be dangerous’ pop up window – which would NOT be good for business. As this is the case, all websites which enter in sensitive information such as credit/debit cards or passwords to log in MUST have an SSL certificate. This simply means that hackers cannot SEE the details you pop in when spying on your actions. You are protecting against attacks. Google will improve your search rankings as it prefers secure websites. We offer a £40+VAT per year renewal for our eCommerce websites – it’s a small price to pay to keep your banks happy, your customers happy and Google happy. For more information on SSL please visit this site.

Make sure your business is registered,
and it has a REG # and a VAT #

It is now a legal requirement for your business to be registered (and have a reg number) if you are to sell online. You will also need to have a VAT number, which is for tax purposes. Your website will need to clearly display both of these numbers, as well as a registered address, email and phone number. This is a legal requirement for all eCommerce sites, and you can read more about how to register your business name on the official GOV website.

Clearly stating your posting terms and conditions and refund policy

Your website must be clear in stating this information, as it is a breach of the law if you do not. Most online merchant accounts will specify that all sales are not final -some of them ask for either 7 or 14 days grace period for returns. This includes if your customer simply doesn’t like the item. You can read more about customer rights and making sure you describe your products well enough to avoid returns by reading this article here.

Clearly state if your products include any hidden charges, such as VAT

As you need to have registered your company name in order to sell online, your eCommerce products will either display that they exclude or include VAT. This needs to be clearly stated on the website. Most people write +VAT on each product if this applies, or just write all product prices normally throughout the site adding that these include VAT in one place, perhaps within the terms and conditions. Either way, you will need to make sure whichever method is clear to your customers.

State how you are compliant with the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). You will need a Privacy Page which shows how you deal with customers personal information.

As a general rule of thumb, I would not advise having an online shop with saved card details and accounts/passwords. If these are compromised, you could end up in a world of trouble just like Moonpig did a few years ago. At SimplySigns Ltd, we also do not store customers card details as we believe we do not need to, and it is safer to not do so. So in keeping with our own company policy, we would suggest that the only details you collect are email addresses for newsletters, or address details for sending out of items. However, you need to state on your website that these will not be sent to a third party, nor be used for any unsolicited mail – as it is against the law to do so. Please see this website for more information. Our web designer will explain what is required on your website to make your online shop GDPR compliant, and what functionality it will need incase you are audited.