Shopping online is becoming ever more popular, and the online business sector is ever expanding due its many benefits. E-commerce offers ease in accessibility to an immense audience of current and potential customers all over the world.
Before any e-commerce business commences their venture in the online world, they need to ensure they draft terms and conditions to regulate the basis on which the company sells to their customers. This legal agreement between the business providing the service and the people who wish to use this service is carefully processed. In order for the customer to use the service provided, they will be required to accept these terms and conditions.
Every business relies on its business contracts and its relationships with customers, but both parties – customers and businesses – also need to be aware of what will happen in the event something goes wrong. This is why terms and conditions are important. They protect your business from consequences. They are a legal agreement, and it is extremely important they are robust.
Here at JMR Solicitors, we can guide your e-commerce business through the complicated processes involved in the drafting of business terms and conditions, concluding in a strong and clear set of terms and conditions in a timely manner.
Not only do terms and conditions improve your position legally, they give you a level of certainty and a sense of security. With a clear set of terms and conditions, you know your rights – and the consumer knows theirs – in the event of all circumstances. This is a benefit to your customers, because they know what to expect from you, and you can sleep at night, safe in the knowledge that your consumers know what you expect from them. Having clear terms and conditions means you are being transparent with them, and this will give you a level of professionalism they’ll register, even if only subconsciously. Trust is such a huge concern for online customers, and business terms and conditions can really make the difference in your business being chosen over a competitor.
As the business sets its standards, terms and conditions also help to minimise disputes that may arise. If they’re meticulously written and precise enough, they lay out things you are not responsible for. It is really important you identify the important commercial perils that could affect your business and include them in your documents. If they’re not in there and are identified later, modify your terms and conditions to protect your rights.
When should we write our terms and conditions?
E-commerce businesses need to have their terms and conditions ready from the outset.
Is there a terms and conditions template I can use?
We would recommend you don’t use a terms and conditions template. Businesses are different, their customers are unique, so there really isn’t a one size fits all terms and conditions document for everyone. Taking this risk could be costly. If something goes wrong and your template doesn’t cover it, you’ll be in trouble.
For most businesses, it is advisable that this legal agreement is tailored to your actual organisation. Bespoke terms and conditions ensure the best protection to the fullest possible extent.
Here at JMR Solicitors, our commercial law specialists have the proficiency to advise you on all legal matters affecting terms and conditions, and the creation of business contracts.
What should I include in my terms and conditions document?
Every website is different, therefore sections of the terms and conditions from business to business differ wildly, however there are a stand set of provisions to be considered. These are:
- Information accuracy
- Terms of sale
- Payment terms
- Shipping & delivery
- Intellectual property
- Disclaimer of liability
- External links
- Loyalty programs and promotions
That being said, many e-commerce businesses who already have terms and conditions fail to to correctly incorporate these into contracts with their clients. This can be disastrous, as failure to do so can potentially result in not being able to enforce them when needed.
It’s imperative to understand that clear and robust terms and conditions can protect e-commerce businesses from severe losses. Expert help will avoid potential substantial future expenses – not to mention a whole load of wasted time – against the customer who fails to pay. Using our expertise, we can help you build these terms and conditions, to give you the protection you need.
When should a business review their existing Terms and Conditions?
You might think you have fairly good terms and conditions, but they should be reviewed regularly. Here are some aspects of your terms and conditions you might want to consider with a solicitor:
- Making sure that it is your terms and conditions that administer the performance of the contract – not those of your client or customer.
- Clearly outline when payment for goods or services is expected. This may need updating if you have been running for business for a while. Your current payment terms may be too lenient, and it is not uncommon for businesses to state payment is due 30 days after the invoice is sent. Reducing this to 14 or 7 days might be better for cash flow.
- You might want to charge interest accrued on unpaid invoices.
- When you have only verbally agreed your services or goods, a written contract is needed to make it binding. Verbal agreements cannot be made enforceable in certain situations, so written terms and conditions are vital.
- Your terms and conditions must be transparent, as well as easy to understand and act on.
- They should lay out clearly what you are and are not responsible and liable for, and what is the responsibility of the consumer.
Making sure that you have relevant terms and conditions for your business is a critical element in success.
The importance of legal assistance
Here at JMR Solicitors, we have staff who specialise in drafting e-commerce terms and conditions, and excel in meeting supporting business needs. If you’re confused or concerned, or if you’d just like to speak to an expert, contact us on 0161 491 3933, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about JMR Solicitors, visit our ‘About Us’ page.