Most websites have a link to a Terms and Conditions agreement that users and customers agree to in order to use the site. Ecommerce stores are no different. Nearly every ecommerce store has a link to a custom Terms and Conditions agreement posted in the site footer or some other conspicuous location such as a registration or checkout page.
If you own or operate an ecommerce store, you need to have your own Terms and Conditions agreement. This helps you establish legally enforceable ground rules for the proper use of your site and it limits your legal liability in the event of product malfunction or a customer dispute.
In this post, we’ll take a careful look at the recommended structure of a Terms and Conditions agreement. We also will look at some examples in use on other ecommerce sites, and help you get started with creating one for your online store.
What is a Terms and Conditions Agreement?
Your Terms and Conditions agreement should lay out the rules you want your online shoppers to abide by if they want to browse your store or make purchases. Since your Terms and Conditions agreement is legally enforceable, both you and your customers can enforce the Terms established in the agreement.
A customer’s agreement with your Terms and Conditions is sometimes implied, meaning you assume the customer agrees to your Terms by virtue of browsing your site, downloading information, purchasing products and otherwise interacting with your store. This type of implied consent is called a browsewrap agreement.
However, as privacy laws evolve to become more strict, browsewrap is being phased out and more and more ecommerce stores are requiring shoppers to tick a box or click a button to actively acknowledge and accept the Terms and Conditions to comply with laws. This type of agreement is called a clickwrap agreement, meaning the user must take action to confirm their consent to the agreement. It is the preferred and recommended method to best protect you and your online store from legal liability.
As an ecommerce site owner, you can enforce your Terms by refusing to allow an online shopper to browse your site or purchase products. The customer also can enforce the Terms by filing a lawsuit.
A Terms and Conditions agreement typically is organized to cover several important sections or clauses, depending on the nature of the business. In general, a good Terms and Conditions for an ecommerce store should contain the following clauses:
- Limitations of liability
- Intellectual property/trademark protection
- Pricing and payment terms, including digital service support, returns, exchanges and cancellations
- Product information
- Dispute resolution
- Refund resolution