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Legal requirements for operating an ecommerce website in Australia.
by Peter Day

Limit the risks with your ecommerce web site.

Operating an ecommerce website carries with it some risks, for both the business owner and the customer. There are many worldwide, Country and State specific rules, regulations and laws that govern what type of business it can be, how it should operate and what content, information and images can appear on your ecommerce website. In order to limit the risks and to ensure that you manage the expectations of your customers, it is essential that you clearly explain to visitors to your e commerce web site, your company policies.
Disclaimer: Your online shop are not Lawyers and as such the following information is given only as a guide.

Deciding on an ecommerce web site Customer Privacy Policy.

Operating an ecommerce web site requires keeping a record of your customers details. It is very important to treat this information carefully and respect their privacy. Providing your customers details to a third party is illegal in most countries and there may be penalties for doing so without their permission. It is recommended you have a dedicated page on your website outlining your Privacy Policy, where you clearly state what you will and will not do with their personal details and to let them know that you treat their personal details seriously. For more information visit the Privacy Commissioner´s web site

Below is an example of a simple generic e commerce website Privacy Policy.

We are totally committed to protecting the privacy of our customers. We will not disclose information about our customers to third parties except where necessary as part of providing a service to you, or unless required by law to do so.

What is your Returns Policy on your ecommerce website.

When shoppers are considering buying your product, they will feel more confident to do so if they know you have a Returns Policy on your ecommerce web site. Explain clearly under what circumstances you will accept returned items, how they will be returned and if there will be any cost to your customer.

Determining a Shipping Policy on your e commerce web site.

Shoppers need to know where you will not deliver your goods, how the items will be packed and delivered and if proof of delivery is required. If you dont accept International orders, or dont deliver to a Post Office Box, state this on your Shipping Policy page of your e commerce web site. Also include information about any import duties that may apply for international deliveries.

Having an Order Fulfillment Policy on your ecommerce website.

On your Order Fulfillment Policy page of your ecommerce website, let your customers know what you will do if a product is no longer available due to the item being out of stock, discontinued, or you cannot fulfill the order in a reasonable time.

Displaying a Security Policy on your e commerce web site.

If you are accepting online payments for purchases made using your e commerce web site, you will need to let your customers know in the Security Policy of your ecommerce web site, how you will protect their credit card details. Offering online Credit Card payments directly on your ecommerce web site will require sensitive data to be encrypted. If this is the case, advise shoppers that your e commerce web site is protected by an SSL Certificate. If you use a 3rd party to handle your online payments, such as Paypal, you will not be keeping records of your customers Credit Card details. In this case you would advise your customers that you do not keep a record of their Credit Card details on your ecommerce web site. With any instance of unauthorised use of a credit card, you must notify the credit card provider in accordance with their reporting requirements and report all fraudulent or criminal activities to the appropriate authorities.
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