Online businesses and bricks-and-mortar businesses share many of the same issues, such as employees, suppliers and business ownership structuring. However, online businesses do have unique needs that should be considered.

1. Trading Terms and Conditions

In addition to the usual terms that are recommended for a smooth business relationship with customers, online businesses should take care to have clear terms regarding matters such as:

  1. Delivery timeframes and methods
  2. Liability for late delivery and/or damaged goods
  3. Online payment terms
  4. Cancellation of orders
  5. Returns policies
  6. Privacy and the collection of personal information.

2. Suppliers

If the business is selling goods online, it may be appropriate to think about:

  1. Obtaining assurances that the goods do not infringe the rights of third parties, such as designers and brands.
  2. Are the goods being shipped by a third party supplier directly to the customers? If so, there should be an agreement about who is responsible for late delivery and protections against goods that are damaged, faulty or not as described.
  3. As the retailer, you will be responsible to customers for defective goods even if you are not the manufacturer. Accordingly, you should have agreed terms with suppliers to protect you in the event of a claim.

3. Intellectual Property

For an online business, its website is perhaps its most valuable asset. However, we frequently see examples of website content being copied by competitors. Take steps to protect the ownership of your website content, including text, photographs and images. This can include registering trade marks and clearly identifying your ownership of copyright material.

If you become aware of a competitor doing the wrong thing, act quickly by obtaining legal advice on the most appropriate options for stopping the infringement and, in some circumstances, seeking damages for any harm caused to your business.

Contact us for expert advice from Accredited Specialists in Commercial Law.

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