Keep reading to learn more!
It is imperative that you fully understand the broadness of the term “personal information.” As misuse of personal information online can easily spell legal troubles for your business. And you, nor I, want that. Westlaw defines personal information as “information that can be used to identify, locate, or contact an individual, alone or when combined with other personal or identifiable information.”
In fact, the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has a freely issued directive outlining how online businesses should store personal information online. Furthermore, the OMB lists a much wider defined definition of personal information that has to be protected as well. Any online business can unknowingly collect any number of customers' personal information. Therefore, it is important to understand the types that exist.
The type of business you operate will usually tell you the kinds of personal information you’ll be collecting when a customer visits your site. You may be collecting one, or more than of, of the following private information:
- Customer first and last name
- Date of Birth
- Mailing or permanent address
- Email Address
- Phone number
- Employment history
- Educational history
- Credit card information
- Website cookies
- Social media accounts
- Customer support data
Finally, when you begin to build your eCommerce website keep in mind that when collecting customer information you have to give your customer the option to provide or decline to provide their personal information. More importantly, they should also have the opportunity to change their mind at any point during their online shopping experience.
Here is the bare minimum that your policy should include:
- The information you will collect both directly and indirectly from your customers via your eCommerce store.
- Any information you might potentially collect from your customers in the future.
- How and what technologies you will use to collect, manage, and store customer data.
- Potential ways you might use this data in the future.
- The ways that third party tools like analytic software and ads on your site will use your customers data.
Third-party cookies collect information indirectly from your site. So, your customers will need the option to decline or accept the use of them when they first click on your site. This option is usually provided in the form of a pop-up at the top or bottom of your site.
Why Privacy Policies are required for eCommerce Stores
If you live and conduct business in the United States, privacy policies are a requirement for online stores. In fact, most countries worldwide require one as well. Your customers' private information like names, address, and phone numbers are considered to be sensitive information. Therefore, it needs to be protected as such.
You wouldn't want just anyone having access to your home address; and there are a million reasons as to why that is true. Your customers are no different. They deserve to know that if they choose to share their information with you, it is going to be protected.
If you’d like to learn more about the nature of personal information shared online, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has an online guide detailing all 50 states' privacy laws. In the guide you will find specific state laws on policy, browsing information, how to market to minors (they will require extra privacy protection), and other relevant privacy issues you’ll need to be aware of.
Here are four goals you should accomplish when crafting your policy:
- Adequately informing customers/visitors of the data that you will collect, and how it will be managed should they choose to provide it.
- Every customer should have the option to opt in or out of providing their information; also allow them the ability to change their mind at a later time.
- Ensure your visitors have access to the information that you and your third-party tools collect.
- Provide a detailed explanation of your business efforts to keep their data secure.
In general, most privacy policies are included in the footer section of their website, along with the “about us” and “contact us” forms.
- PrivacyPolicies.com: This site is another well-known and popular choice. It does require a small nominal one-time fee. However, this is because they offer users the ability to fully create detailed templates. Once you start creating your template this site will begin to make adjustments that reflect your unique business needs.
- Get Terms: If you’re looking for a more simple and basic option, then Get Terms is right for you! It allows you to display a simple policy by entering information in field displays for free.
That’s all, private!
Privacy policies help consumers feel secure, especially during the data capture and payment process. Whether consumers choose ACH payment or another standard form of payment, they want to know their information is secure.
If you’d like to learn how to build an eCommerce website, or how to create an eCommerce business model, check out our blogs! They are full of information that is meant to help you become successful in this saturated market. If you work in the food and beverage industry, we recommend that you request a demo to learn more about how BlueCart can help you.
Yes, however, there is a lot to understand about privacy policies. It's best you do your research beforehand to understand everything you'll need to include.