When you’re running an eCommerce store or any product sold online like an ebook, you may hope you can avoid most legal disputes. After all, you can use generic wholesale providers or prepare your own products. You might be able to do the majority of your business activities without ever having to bring an attorney on at all. However, even if you do decide to avoid getting a lawyer to make sure that your eCommerce site is in order, then make sure that you at least have these legal pages.
Controlling State Law for All Transactions
A number of small eCommerce stores forget to include a legal page that includes the controlling state law. You will want the controlling state law to be included because otherwise you could be sued anywhere in the world. Remember that international law can have a great impact on your success as an eCommerce store owner. If you fail to follow the proper procedures and do not provide the necessary restrictions, you could technically be brought into court in Japan, Uganda, or some other foreign country. All countries have some form of default judgment, meaning that if you do not arrive to defend yourself, then the court will make the decision in your absence. This does not necessarily mean that it can be enforced against you in the United States, but it can make keeping up an international eCommerce store significantly more challenging.
Notice of Information Gathering and Usage
The majority of all eCommerce stores actually use some information gathering techniques. These techniques allow you to customize your offerings and advertisements to your most common users, allowing you to adapt your marketing strategies as well as your retail pos. But the Federal Trade Commission has become concerned with some of the abuse of information. Through a number of acts, both current and pending, the Federal Trade Commission now requires that eCommerce stores disclose the fact that they are gathering information and how it is going to be used. Most of the time, this is included in the Terms and Conditions that your customers must agree to when they make a purchase. However, a number of sites now have that information disclosure appear on the front page, requiring that potential viewers accept it before they even get on the site. This allows the usage of more advanced cookies and information gathering techniques.
Any Affiliate Connections
If any of the earnings from your site come from affiliate links, then you have to disclose this. Currently, the Federal Trade Commission requires it explicitly for any direct affiliate connection. However, it’s advisable to have a disclosure for complimentary services and kickback relationships. You will need to put this on the legal page as well as at the bottom of pages where affiliate connections are present.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer to help you with everything in your eCommerce store. However, you don’t want to assume that everything is fine. You must limit your liability to control the areas in which you can be sued. While you may still be sued in other places, the controlling law clause will at least make it more difficult. You must also provide notice of all the information being gathered and used as well as any affiliate connections that you may have.
Mike, aka The Dividend Guy, authors The Dividend Guy Blog since 2010 and manages portfolios at Dividend Stocks Rock. He is a passionate investor.