No matter what kind of eCommerce business you run, having terms and conditions available for your customers to view is valuable. Terms and conditions work in your favor by explaining usage rules and property rights to customers. All in all, terms and conditions have the ability to ease, resolve, or entirely avoid legal issues.
In this article, we’ll define eCommerce terms and conditions, explain what your agreement should include and why it’s important.
eCommerce terms and conditions definition
Terms and conditions (also known as terms of service) are legal agreements between service providers and someone who wants to use the service. When the user decides to use a company's product they are obligated to agree and abide by the terms of service. Terms and service agreements can include, but are not limited to, rules and restrictions and site usage.
Normally you’ll find an eCommerce site terms and conditions in the website footer. Moreover, they’ll often include signatures in the form of a checkbox. By checking the box you are aware of, understand, and agree to the terms.
Do I need to include terms and conditions on my site?
First and foremost, eCommerce websites are under no legal obligation to display terms and conditions on their website. However, having one can protect your business.
Although terms and conditions are not legally required, if a website has one, they are legally enforceable. Moreover, it is one of the best ways to make your business standards known to customers–but that is only one out of many benefits. Here are some additional benefits that are equally as important.
- Site Abuse prevention: One of the best standards of practice for avoiding site prevention is having terms of service displayed properly on your site. This way your site visitors are in the know regarding the consequences of breaking your rules. Some ways visitors might abuse your site include: spamming tactics, bots, or defamatory content. With terms and conditions you’ll now have a great way to handle these sorts of issues.
- Liabilities: Operating your business online doesn’t remove liability issues. In many instances, you might see an increase in concerns. However, with terms and conditions you can protect or limit your business from common issues like personal injury, warranty disputes, and even loss of profit claims. In the end, you can save yourself thousands of dollars.
- Property Protection: Without a physical storefront you might be wondering how property protection fits in. Well, once your ecommerce business is running you own all self-produced web content, designs, and materials. Within your terms and conditions you’ll include a section that details copyright protection and laws. Now, your users are well-informed about ways they can and can not use your materials.
- Legal Disputes: Although most businesses never come across legal issues, this doesn't mean you should ignore the possibility. With a thorough ecommerce terms and conditions agreement you’ll decrease the likelihood of a legal dispute. Your rules are out on display with no room for ambiguity. Unfortunately, having terms and conditions won’t completely eliminate legal disputes, but you’ll find yourself equipped with a plan of action and little to no difficulty with one in place.
- Brand trust: Finally, and most importantly terms and conditions allow you and your users to form a trusting relationship. When your expectations are clear from the start, customers tend to experience less frustration. Moreover, you prevent customers from forming a set of expectations that cannot be met.
eCommerce Terms and Conditions: What to include
Since no business is exactly the same, all terms and conditions agreements will vary. Even so, there are important clauses that should be included regardless of the business industry.
A liability disclaimer, or disclaimer of liability, is a written statement from your business explaining any potential harm that might come from using your product or service, and how your business is not responsible for the harm.
Pricing and Payment
This is the section where you’ll want to explain everything and anything related to online purchases and pricing. From shipping and returns, to payment processing and refunds, nothing is off the table. If your business does not offer refunds explain this in detail. We also recommend that you include a “no refunds” banner or blurb somewhere that catches customers attention. Another option is to create a separate “no refund policy” and link your customers to it.
Dispute resolution clauses provide insight into how your business handles conflicts related to your terms and conditions.
You can resolve a dispute one of three ways: In court, through arbitration, or negotiation. Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll want to include how the process works in this section. Be specific in this clause too. If you choose a court, include the court's location and laws. With arbitration explain legal regulations, fees, and the basic process. Resolutions by negotiation should explain how long negotiations will take, and how they work.
Free eCommerce Terms and Conditions Template
Let’s face it, not everyone has the time to create terms and agreements from scratch. But as a vital part of eCommerce sites, you can't afford to leave them out. Fortunately, you won't have to. You can easily create eCommerce terms and conditions using the free online templates listed below!
Once you’ve found a template that works best for you and your business, you’re ready to roll them out on your site!
On one Condition!
Creating your eCommerce terms and conditions might be the least exciting task on your to-do list; although, we bet that resolving a costly customer dispute is worse. Download a free terms and conditions template today and save yourself unnecessary trouble later. Some of the Best eCommerce Websites out there have a simple, and easy to understand terms and conditions agreement. If you’d like to learn more about all things eCommerce, check out our Blog. There, you can learn everything from eCommerce credit card processing to the differences between eCommerce and eBusiness.