Terms and Conditions for an Online Store
Terms and Conditions for an online store can be a confusing topic for a new business owner. You may be confused about whether your business is legally required to include them on your site, how they benefit websites, and what to include in your Terms and Conditions. This article breaks the Terms and Conditions agreement down to its basics so you can make an informed decision about including one on your website.
What Are Terms and Conditions, and Do I Need Them for My Online Store?
Websites need Terms and Conditions to protect the business's liability and its owners. They also help the business operate smoothly by providing a transparent set of rules for its users to abide by. While a Terms and Conditions agreement isn't always legally required for online stores, many business owners choose to include one, regardless of the legal necessity.
What Terms and Conditions Are
The Terms and Conditions for an online store is a document that governs the contractual relationship between you as the provider of a service and your users. Many people are confused about Terms of Service vs. Terms and Conditions. When the Terms and Conditions document is written for a website, it can be called several other names, like:
- Terms of Service
- End-User License Agreement
- General Conditions
- Legal Notes
The Terms and Conditions are essentially a contract that clarifies your conditions when users utilize your services. Examples of some of the conditions you may choose to include in your Terms of Service are:
- Copyright uses
- Rules users must follow when interacting with other users
How Terms and Conditions Help eCommerce Websites
Having a Terms and Conditions agreement on your eCommerce website helps you establish trust and transparency with your users. It allows you to clearly outline the rules users must follow when using your site.
If you detail the rules of your site, your users are more likely to have reasonable expectations of your business. You are also less likely to encounter misunderstandings with your customers regarding website usage.
Your Terms and Conditions should be written with your business in mind. Every website differs in the various clauses it chooses to include. Examples of clauses and sections you may decide to include in your Terms and Conditions are:
- Registration requirements
- Permitted uses of your website's content
- Disclaimer of liability for the content on linked sites
- The website owner's details or the company's contact details
- List of all necessary fees associated with the website
- Website availability
- List of unacceptable content
These clauses are popular to include in the Terms and Conditions for eCommerce websites. Consider including these clauses in your website's Terms and Conditions.
Can I Write Them Myself?
As an adult, you are permitted to write a legally binding contract, which is what your Terms and Conditions for an online store are. There is no requirement that you use a lawyer or legal service to create your Terms and Conditions.
While you are certainly allowed to write your own Terms and Conditions, the critical question is whether you can write a good Terms and Conditions agreement. A good Terms and Conditions agreement has the following elements:
- It details your needs and expectations.
- It protects you and your business.
- It's easy to understand.
- It includes all terms to be agreed upon.
- It's not overly broad.
Your Terms and Conditions Detail Your Needs and Expectations
Your Terms and Conditions must be comprehensive enough to cover your needs and expectations. If your website allows users to post comments and interact with other site users, you will probably want to outline what content is unacceptable for your users to post. This may include certain types of language and illegal, abusive, or defamatory content.
By clearly stating what kind of posts are not allowed, you have created a path for recourse if you have a problem with a user posting unacceptable content. You may establish a warning system, temporary bans, and permanent bans.
Your Terms and Conditions Protect You and Your Business
Your Terms and Conditions should protect your business from legal liability. It should also prevent people from using your intellectual property (IP). IP can include different things, like your logo, images, and content.
Your Terms and Conditions Are Easy To Understand
If your Terms and Conditions are written in dense legal jargon that the average user would have trouble understanding, then a court is less likely to uphold your agreement in court. There are some exceptions, and a bit of legalese is acceptable in your Terms and Conditions, but you should aim to make the agreement easily understandable to your average user.
The average American adult has a reading comprehension level equivalent to that of a 12-to-14-year-old. Your Terms and Conditions should be comprehensible to a seventh- or eighth-grade student to ensure enforcement. If your user doesn't understand your Terms and Conditions, how can they be bound to them?
Your Terms and Conditions Agreement Includes All Terms To Be Agreed Upon
If you want to hold your users to an agreement, it must be included in your Terms and Conditions. You can't retroactively hold your user liable for something they have not agreed to. If you realize that something important was left out of your Terms and Conditions, you can update the agreement and require your users to agree to the revised Terms and Conditions before re-accessing your site.
Your Terms and Conditions Agreement Is Not Overly Broad
Many previous suggestions warn website owners against forgetting to include all necessary aspects to protect themselves and their business. It may be tempting to go overboard and include everything you can think of, whether you need it now or not. However, this isn't a wise tactic. If a court finds that your agreement is too unfavorable or restrictive, they may consider your Terms and Conditions "unconscionable." A court of law won't legally uphold an "unconscionable" agreement in court.
Your Terms and Conditions must strike the perfect balance of comprehensive enough to protect you and cover important issues but not so restrictive as to be deemed "unconscionable."
Do I Need Legal Advice to Write Terms and Conditions?
You don't necessarily need legal advice or a lawyer to write your Terms and Conditions, but it can help. There are no laws mandating that you hire a lawyer to draft your Terms and Conditions. However, seeking the advice of a lawyer or an agency skilled in Terms and Conditions drafting can be helpful. If you have the resources to hire a lawyer to draft your Terms and Conditions, then by all means proceed. However, many small and medium-sized businesses find that their interests are properly protected by using a high-quality, personalized Terms of Service generator.
How Can Enzuzo Help My Online Store with Terms and Conditions?
Enzuzo has several Terms and Conditions plans to suit businesses of different sizes, including a free version. Enzuzo can help you generate a Terms and Conditions agreement tailored to your unique business needs. It just takes a few clicks and answers some basic questions about your website.
Enzuzo's website Terms of Service generator is fast and easy to use. It creates customized Terms of Service for your website or online business. It is compatible with popular eCommerce spaces like Squarespace and Shopify and website builder platforms like WordPress and Wix.