Know legal pitfalls
If you want to set up an online shop, it is advisable to first deal very well with the subject of data protection and other important legal requirements. The list of things to consider is very long. But there is also good news because there is a wealth of help and tailor-made solutions available online that make a life for online retailers a lot easier. Below we take a quick look at the key points to consider.
Cookies are pieces of text information that are stored on the user’s device when a website is accessed. Your usage will be in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Cookies may be necessary for certain functions on a site to be displayed and executed correctly. In the case of online shops, this applies to payment functions, among other things, but also to security-relevant plugins.
However, there are also cookies from applications that are used for marketing purposes, for example. So-called tracking tools analyze the behaviour of website visitors in order to optimize the site or the range of products accordingly.
The operator of the online shop can, for example, see which subpages were visited or how long potential customers stayed in the shop. Integrated services such as Google Maps or YouTube also set cookies.
However, the use of all non-essential cookies must always be optional. Therefore, any site that sets cookies must be associated with a Cookie Consent Tool that meets certain GDPR-related requirements. It is particularly important that the website visitor must first actively agree to non-essential cookies before they can be set. A simple cookie banner that only informs that cookies are being used is no longer sufficient.
Good legal texts are essential
The necessary legal texts are just as important as a GDPR-compliant cookie consent tool. In the meantime, there are also numerous providers who make their services available to online shops and thus make the life of retailers a lot easier. Incorrect or even missing legal texts can ultimately result in a sometimes very expensive warning and do not necessarily inspire confidence for customers.
As an online shop operator, it is essential that a data protection declaration, an imprint, the cancellation policy and the general terms and conditions (GTC) can be found on your website. It is also important that they are easily accessible, so they should ideally be placed in the menu or in the footer.
Since there is a lot to consider when creating these texts, which go far beyond the knowledge of a layperson, an appropriately specialized lawyer should be consulted. However, it is not necessary to hire a lawyer, the texts from reputable providers of legal texts were also created with the necessary professional expertise.
However, not only the existence of corresponding legal texts must be taken into account, but also their topicality. Legal requirements are subject to constant developments and adjustments, so the legal texts should be updated regularly. Many providers already enable their customers to do this automatically via interfaces.
In addition to their own online shop, many retailers have additional presence on large online marketplaces or their own social media presence for their business. Special legal texts are also absolutely necessary here.
More stumbling blocks await in the details
With the cookie consent tool and professional legal texts, you have already safely circumnavigated two of the biggest hurdles to a legally compliant online shop. But there are still a few stumbling blocks waiting for you when it comes to shop design. First of all, the copyright of photos and texts is very important.
As tempting as it may be, steer clear of any image, graphic, or text that you do not have the right to use. Especially when it comes to images, the temptation is often great, because they are the be-all and end-all of a good website. Before you list your products, clarify with your wholesaler whether you may use their product photos. If not, the only thing that helps is to take the photos yourself or hire a photographer.
With a bit of luck, you might also find suitable stock photos. Decorative photos shouldn’t simply be stolen either. Caution is also required with providers of free photos, as they often do not check whether the person who uploaded an image really owns the rights to it.
Further stumbling blocks lurk in the correct pricing and possibly in product labelling. If you are selling goods that are priced based on weight, volume or length, you need to pay attention to the basic price.
The value-added tax must also be displayed correctly and information about the shipping costs must be easy to view. Depending on which provider you create your online shop with, you may need appropriate plugins that enable a legally compliant display.
For some products, such as textiles or electrical items, certain information must also be given in a specified form. In the case of clothing, for example, there are precise specifications with regard to the names of the fabrics.
Some legal text providers offer a full review of your online store, which is definitely a worthwhile investment if you’re unsure about legal requirements.
If you offer physical goods, you must also license the packaging and shipping material. Here, too, there are a few legal details to be observed. For example, if you import goods from abroad, you must also license the product packaging, since you are considered the distributor.
The SSL certificate ensures that sensitive information such as payment data is only passed on in the encrypted form. Such a certificate is therefore essential for online shops. In the meantime, the SSL certification has been replaced by the TLS procedure, which is based on it.
Having your own online shop offers numerous advantages and is just as suitable for shop owners as it is for newcomers. There are now a large number of service providers who make it immensely easier to start and run an online shop in accordance with the law.
It is particularly important that your site has a cookie consent tool and the necessary legal texts. There are also a few things to consider when designing your website and product information.
But with a little research work and reliable service providers, all legal hurdles can be easily overcome.