With the massive influx of Australian online stores and the ease of “do-it-yourself” systems, there is much to be said about getting it wrong. However, let’s not focus on that, let us try and help you get it sorted, at least from a compliance point of view. Hopefully, this will help you identify some of the requirements you might be missing. If you got all of these or even some of them on your site, then nice work! Let’s get into it then.
Here are 5 things your Australian E-commerce website might be missing
- Terms and Conditions
- Right of Withdrawal (Shipping and Returns)
- Contact information
- Business hours
Australia has a Privacy Act and a set of National Privacy Principles. Mostly, these apply to:
- Health service providers
- Traders in personal information
- Private companies with a turnover greater than $3 million annually
- Contractors to government
2. Terms and Conditions
If a website does not have a set of Terms and Conditions that I can find and read easily then I generally do not trust that website. The Terms and Conditions are never going to be simple, however, if they stretch to 20 or 30 pages then there is an issue. So you need to cover yourself without going too legally wordy. You should always seek legal advice on the legal terms and aspects of your business. Do not just go and copy the T&Cs from some other website. You can find some very useful information at https://www.business.gov.au/online/buying-and-selling-online
Always make sure that the footer on every page of your website carries a copyright notice. It will be something like “Copyright ©2021 My Business Name”.
3. Right of Withdrawal (Shipping and Returns)
These may be part of the Terms and Conditions but if you are selling commodity products then make the Shipping and Return Policy easy to find and understand, provide a special page just for that purpose. For some items like food and clothes you may not have to accept returns, however, it is an area that you have to understand. In Australia, all sales (including online sales) fall under the Trade Practices Act. This states that what you are selling must be fit for the purpose that you describe. So you need to make sure that your product descriptions are not so vague as to open a potential problem for you. Returns can create the need for a refund to a buyer. There are a number of ways that can be done but you need to have the process clearly documented so it cannot be disputed. If the customer has bought via a credit card then you can process the refund to the card. This will result in a fee that you, the merchant will pay. The fee will vary by provider and card type. You can also offer a gift card (for use at a later date) or a replacement with an alternative product.
Force Policy Acceptance
If you have all the correct policies on your website how do you know if a customer accepts these? The best approach is to have the website force acceptance and that is usually by the acceptance of a tick box in the basket process.
Cookies and Customer Notifications
4. Contact information
An Australian e-commerce store really should have clear contact information. If you are serious about selling online you need to capture your customers’ trust. They will want to feel secure that you can be contacted. A landline number is better security than a mobile so keep this in mind. 1300 numbers are even better. Include a customer enquiries email and a location of your business. If you work from home don’t use your home address. Get yourself a PO Box. You will need something like this so the buyer can see you are not a scam or offshore operation. Include an online contact form for ease of use.
5. Business hours
Seams obvious but many online stores forget to make their business hours clear. Make sure these are in your footer area so it is clear on every page. Also include these on your contact page. I would recommend including your packaging and shipping schedules here. Just think about when you shop online, easy is best right?
Well, there are 5 things you may have missed, I really do hope this is helpful for you. If this overwhelms you a bit and you need some help by all means get in touch, I’d be more than happy to discuss a solution with you.
Digital Creative, Director & Founder
P. 07 3186 1796
M. 0411 266 249
Hours: Monday – Friday 9am to 4pm (QLD)