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Legal requirements – A key to your success

By Tim Fuell - August 31, 2014

There are many things you will need to keep in mind before setting up an online business.  Apart from all the technical and business side issues, it is essential to pay attention to the legal requirements.

There are several laws that apply to online retailers. In this article we just want to give you two examples of legal requirements that you need to fulfil.

Please keep in mind that this is not a complete legal guide but only a note on two legal areas that are important for an online shop.

Supplier identification

Disclosing your identity to your customers is not only a legal requirement but is also a primary need if you want to do good business.

There are some undesirable shops out there and the supplier identification is the first thing to distinguish you from those shops. Who wouldn’t want to know who they are dealing with?

The core requirements demand the following information to be provided on your website:

a) Your identity – for sole traders this means your full name, whereas companies need to provide their registered name.

b) Your geographical address – which means that you will need to post your registered address on your website.

c) Your contact details – displaying the email address is a must, a telephone number is nowadays good practice.

d) Your VAT number – which is only not applicable in the rare case where a business activity is not subject to value added tax.

Furthermore, some information needs to be provided when your business is subject to an authorisation scheme and there are other requirements for regulated professions as well.

Data protection

Privacy concerns are a major worry for customers who shop online. Therefore, it is very important that you address these concerns properly. The two major pieces of data protection and privacy legislation in the UK are the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECRs). Data is collected to different extents in online shops and you will have to inform the customer about this. A detailed privacy policy is a must; the privacy policy has to inform the customer about what is done with personal data, any transfer of their data to third parties and about the customer’s rights. This is a complex area and needs careful consideration as your privacy policy has to be tailored to your circumstances.

There are hardly any online shops that do not use cookies nowadays; hence, a cookie policy is indispensable. The cookies policy needs to provide clear and comprehensive information about the cookies being used; ideally this can be set out in a table format. Along with the comprehensive cookies policy, the PECRs require retailers to obtain the customer’s consent to the storage and reading of those cookies on their computing device.

Trusted Shops

There are many more legal specifics that need to be considered when setting up an online shop, furthermore retailers are under the duty to stay up to date with any changes in the legislation. Trusted Shops can assist you with expertise, samples and comprehensive explanation on complex legal issues. Trusted Shops will update you on any relevant legal changes and guide you as to how to implement the legal requirements into your shop.