There is a growing effort from governments and other bodies to regulate e-commerce activity, as more people choose this medium to make purchases instead of brick and mortar. As a result, online businesses need to have many elements in place to avoid trouble and provide a better shopping experience for users.
This article will look at what businesses need to include in their eCommerce sites to comply with different regulations.
Before diving into the elements of a compliant e-commerce site, let's look at the regulations affecting your business right now. They all aim to protect consumer privacy and safety but will have different requirements. Therefore, you must be familiar with them and know which ones you fall under.
We're sure you're familiar with GDPR, as the European Union's conversation on data privacy is pretty recent. You may think that if your business is not in the EU, you'd be exempt from these regulations. However, that's not quite the case. For example, suppose your business is open to European users, and you collect their data. In that case, even if you're not headquartered there, you must comply with GDPR for eCommerce.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) looks to protect Californian consumers by granting three privacy rights. Businesses must provide information about these rights to their consumers, which include:
With these regulations in mind, let's dive into the elements your eCommerce site must have to comply with.
Additionally, it would be a good idea to count on a cookie management solution. A tool like this helps you automate collecting and storing user consent regarding cookies. You know when you visit a site, and there is a pop-up or a small window asking to accept cookies? That's part of a cookie management tool.
Even if you're unaware, your website may collect user data, especially e-commerce that deals with transactions. In addition, cookie management is not only required by GDPR but also by other regulations. So it's one of the main areas your site has to look into.
Speaking of data and policies, here's another critical eCommerce compliance element. Besides cookies, many governments and regulating bodies require companies to disclose information on how they're collecting, processing, and managing user data. But, of course, that also applies to the online world.
For example, the CCPA secures four rights regarding data privacy for California residents, as described earlier. Therefore, privacy policies affected by this act should include this information.
Take into account that the information you must include in your policy will depend on the regulations you fall under. For example, COPPA has its requirements regarding privacy policies for children under 13, including parents' rights to revoke information.
In some regions like the EU, it is required to state contractual procedures on eCommerce sites before a user makes a purchase. That means users should know what they agree to when buying a product or service from your organization. That can be done through clear terms and conditions.
This document can inform users about their rights since many regulations require so. For example, the EU's legal regulations for e-commerce states that consumers should have 14 days to retract the contract if unsatisfied with the product. You can include such withdrawal information on terms and conditions and payment, cancellation, shipping, and delivery terms.
Providing this information allows users to be aware of the terms of their purchase, so they can agree to them beforehand and spare you from future complaints.
Not only is consent required by different regulations by GDPR and COPPA, but you may also have to keep records of that consent.
Businesses affected by COPPA need consent from a parent or guardian before collecting personal information from a child under 13. Parents also have the right to revoke consent and have that information deleted, and that right should be noticed to them. The CCPA has a similar requirement.
And where do records of this consent come in? According to GDPR, website controllers need to prove that user consent was given to process their data. Therefore to comply, you're advised to keep a record of the user who consented, when they consented, the version of the policy they gave consent to, and the medium by which the user provided their consent and data. Saving this information will help prove consent at any time.
In the UK, the body overseeing data privacy for individuals is the Information Commissioner's Office or ICO. Businesses or individuals that process personal information need to pay a data protection fee to the ICO unless they are exempt. A free online assessment is available to know whether you're exempt.
The fee varies depending on the organization's size, annual turnover, and other criteria.
Not registering your e-commerce can result in a fine of up to £4,000. However, remember that paying the fee doesn't automatically make you compliant; your business still needs to follow data privacy regulations like GDPR.
These aren't necessarily elements you should display on your website like all the previous items on this list, but they're still important aspects of eCommerce compliance. Take these additional regulations into account to investigate further:
After this list of policies and other elements, you should also know that compliance doesn't end there. Once those items are on your website, you may still have inspections or user complaints. So how do you prove you were always compliant?
Keeping a website archive that includes policies, consent opt-ins, and other required widgets can complement compliance. However, to create it, going through each page and taking a screenshot every time something is updated is a no-no. However, there is a way to perform this task while avoiding manual work!
With an automated website screenshot tool like Stillio, you can save a copy of your entire website with just a few clicks. You can set these captures at the interval you need, which can be daily, weekly, monthly, or even up to 5 minutes for the best plan. Choose the interval that best fits your policies, depending on how often they update.
Screenshots can help you safeguard evidence of terms and conditions before purchase, unticked opt-in boxes, and more. In addition, all captures are saved to your account for you to reference later, so you can also go back and see previous versions of your policies.
Suppose your business operates overseas and you need screenshots taken from a different place. In that case, geo IP locations are here to help. With Stillio, you can change the server location to other continents to archive your website from every destination. Screenshots are also timestamped so that you can prove compliance at any given point in time.
Having your own online business is exciting and can bring lots of benefits. But, don't lose them along the way for not being aware of regulations! Use this article as an introduction and seek legal help to go one step further. At Stillio, we want to help make the entire process easier for you. Feel free to book a demo with us so you can discover all our features.