how to write terms and conditions for ecommerce website

A Guide to eCommerce Terms and Conditions Page [Download Sample Template]

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25 min read

You have a long list to do before launching your online store. The terms and conditions usually come at the bottom of the list. But this part of your site is extremely important to make customers trust your brand. Check this guide and learn how to write terms and conditions for an eCommerce website. If you’ve already designed your T&C agreement then check whether everything is placed correctly or not.

An eCommerce terms and conditions policy is a contract between you and your customer. It includes a set of legal rules and guidelines for store owners and their customers. 

Customers must agree with these conditions in order to browse your site, make a purchase, or get any related facilities. Your T&C gives you legal cover by imposing the code of conduct for your site and how visitors should interact with it. So, if any dispute happens, it serves as a legal reference for finding a solution in favor of both parties.

To help you out today we’ll explain what to include in your agreement and how to create one.

Disclaimer: During wring a company terms and conditions you need to consider the following facts-

  • Business type/ product-category/ customer base
  • Customs of your geographic location
  • Business law of the place you’re shipping products

Although clauses might be different from business to business, today you’ll show the attribute of standard terms and conditions. We’ve added examples with every clause so you can get a clear idea of how to write terms and conditions for an eCommerce website

What Clauses Should You Include in Your eCommerce Terms & Conditions?

You should be careful when writing a term and condition document because any simple mistake can leave your company exposed to legal liabilities or unwanted consequences.

Below are the key attributes of an eCommerce terms & conditions-

  1. Limitation of Liability
  2. Information Accuracy
  3. Customer Rights and Responsibilities
  4. Pricing and Payment Terms
  5. Shipping, Returns, and Refunds
  6. Trademarks / Intellectual Property / Copyrights
  7. Dispute Resolution
  8. Product Review
  9. Links to Other Websites
  10. Amendments to the Agreement

Now let’s get into details.

1. Limitation of Liability

Limited liability gives you legal protection that reduces your personal financial risk in terms of running your online business. It is crucial to legally limit your liabilities and prevent customer litigation.

This clause clarifies to your customers how much responsibility you or your business will take if any liability issue arises. Such as personal injury or expense, fraudulent misrepresentation, defective items, and service or delivery problems.

Below there is an example from Alex and Ani:

disclaimer of liability alex and ani
Limitation of Liability section of terms and conditions

Related link: Adding Essential Pages & Features to Your eCommerce Website.

2. Information Accuracy

Visitors establish an image of your business based on the information you convey to them throughout the website. All your product data should be accurate which makes your site trustworthy. However, to avoid any customer service issues, include a clause to your agreement that information can sometimes be inaccurate and modified if requires.

This part should disclose the fact that despite giving your best efforts, some information might not be updated in time. And these data could be changed without any notice. Such as prices, product descriptions, stock quantities, etc.

Check out the following example from clothing retailer H&M:

information accuracy in terms and condition of HM
Information Accuracy section of terms and conditions

A recent study finds that 54% of consumers have returned products bought online due to complaints over color. As an online clothing retailer, it’s important to clarify in your T & C that the color of the product may vary due to screen configurations.

3. Customer Rights and Responsibilities

This clause educates your consumers and notifies them about their rights while purchasing from an online shop. It limits their expectation so there exists transparency between shop owners and buyers. If you skip this section, it can depersonalize your store that makes your shop less user-friendly to the customers.

Below is an extract from Flora Tour that clearly declares the duties their clients are entitled to and acts the customer must do in return:

customer rights and responsibilities in terms and condition agreement
Customer Rights and Responsibilities section of the terms and conditions

4. Pricing and Payment Terms

Product prices are supposed to change with time considering many essential elements. Add a dedicated Pricing or Payments clause covering all pricing-related topics such as transaction processes, price modifications, discounts, coupons, etc. This clause saves you from any legal issues related to these sensitive matters.

This part of the agreement answers your queries about-

  • The payment process and available gateways
  • Amount of additional fees or taxes with the product price
  • Preference for a particular currency
  • Frequency of updating product price
  • Factors that may influence product or delivery cost
  • Discount type/time/rate
  • If you charge any subscription fees on your online store

For example, Manolo Blahnik adds a Price and Payment clause that describes that the product’s price on the site and delivery charge can be changed at any time. They also mention that the online store only accepts payments made by credit or debit cards on the checkout page.

price and payment in terms and condition page
Pricing and Payment section of the terms and conditions

Related link: 8 Actionable Tips to Protect Your WordPress eCommerce Website.

5. Shipping, Returns, and Refunds

Only having quality products is not enough to run a successful business. You need a strong channel for managing other related attributes. Such as delivering the product to your customer’s doorsteps on time, solving their problems if they find any fault in your products, and taking quick steps to compensate them. Your eCommerce shop can offer extra facilities as well to enhance customers’ satisfaction rates like express delivery, free shipping, money-back guarantees, etc.

Include a cause into your eCommerce terms and condition page to clearly describe all the rules you’ll follow in terms of delivery or shipping products of your shop.

You can check Best Buy’s shipping policy. It covers all the important details and focuses on their free next-day delivery policy.

shipping policy terms for best buy
Shipping policy of the terms & conditions

If your store provides a money-back guarantee, explain the return and refund process in detail in your terms and conditions.

Here is a sample return policy you can check-

sample return policy of terms and conditions
Return policy of the terms and conditions

6. Trademarks / Intellectual Property / Copyrights

Your online store must have many unique items, resources, or other proprietary rights that you want to protect. You can add a clause to establish your Intellectual Property Rights. Take your Terms and Conditions agreement as a platform to declare your intellectual property and the rules to use those items or information along with the consequences if anyone violates your intellectual property rights.

Let’s take an example from ASOS a software company. On their Terms and Conditions page, they added a clause for Intellectual Property, Software, and Content. This clause states that ASOS owns all the software and content available on the website and they have copyrights for these tools. This clause explains the activities which customers can and cannot do with the content or software.

ASOS intellectual property in terms and condition
The intellectual Property section of the terms and conditions

7. Dispute Resolution

After giving so much effort to keep your customer experience high, it’s possible to arise confusion. Your eCommerce terms and conditions should bear the information on how you’ll handle conflicts and controversies related to your shop. This clause is particularly important for businesses targeting global audiences. As different countries follow different laws that may create debate or argument for your store.

There are 3 ways to handle disputes for your online shop. First, determine your way and then include the details in your dispute resolution clause.

In court: Add information about the court that will handle the case, its location and jurisdiction, and the governing laws you’ll follow.

Mediation services: You can hire a corporate mediation service to solve a problem between you and your customer. To avoid any kind of future clash, add a dispute resolution clause to your document. It should describe legal regulations, binding principles, location, how fees are handled, and where the arbitration will take place.

Informal negotiations: You can solve disputes through direct negotiations with customers before proceeding to arbitration. Tell details about the duration of the negotiation and the execution process in the Dispute Resolution clause.

Typically issues with a small amount of money like less than $10,000 do not need an attorney. Small courts handle these types of cases. A proper court handles cases of big amounts.

Apple includes a clause for Governing Law: Dispute Resolution in their Terms and Condition agreement. It states that they will follow the laws of the United States and the State of California in any situation of dispute. But disputes arising from the European Union will resolve in the associated country.

dispute resolution in ecommerce terms and condition
Dispute Resolution section of the terms and conditions

Related link: 7 Proven eCommerce SEO Tips to Get More Traffic.

8. Product Review

In many T & C documents, this clause is known as user-generated content (UGC). It refers to the content submitted by users. Such as feedback, ratings, and testimonials. Constructive reviews are important to make your store trustworthy as well as improve your products based on customers’ reviews. You don’t have control over what comments your customers will leave. But you can set the acceptable standard, language, and tone of communication for your users.

Walmart’s terms and condition includes the type of users eligible to submit content to their site. And these contributors will enjoy the flexibility to edit, display, and distribute the content.

walmart terms and condition
The product Review section of the terms and conditions

9. Links to Other Websites

Under this clause, you can describe the purpose of your external links and inform your customers that you’re not responsible for any third-party website content to which you link.

In their terms and condition, Arcadia Group clarifies their position that they don’t have control over the content or other consequences once you visit any third-party websites by clicking any link-

use of links in terms and conditions

In the second example, you’ll find Wayfair adds a “Links to Other Websites” section in its Terms and Conditions. Through this clause, they informed the users that they’ve added links for users’ convenience. So, they are not responsible for the quality, nature, or reliability of the content.

links to other website
Links to Other Websites section of the terms and conditions

Since you have no control over third-party content, it’s crucial to transfer the risk back to the users.

10. Amendments to the Agreement

You need to keep your business policies up-to-date in order to cope with evolving eCommerce industry. Keep a section on your T & C page to notify your users about possible modifications that may affect your business process.

Also, inform your users how often you are supposed to change your policies. It gives them an idea of when to check the agreement again. Include the way as well through which you’ll notify them once there happen any changes.

Check another example from Wayfare-

changes clause of terms and conditions
Amendments to the Agreement section of the terms and conditions

Now, you know about all the general factors, you need to consider during writing eCommerce terms and conditions.

Let’s show you the steps of how to write terms and conditions for an eCommerce website.

You should also check: Adding Privacy Policy to Your eCommerce Website (Download Sample Privacy Policy).

How to Write eCommerce Terms and Conditions

how to write terms and conditions for an ecommerce website

As you can see, your eCommerce terms and condition needs to cover a lot of legal rules and laws with detailed information. Now it is time to write your terms and conditions. Below are the steps you need to follow-

Step1: Get the List Ready You Need to Include

Your first duty is to make a list of required clauses, rules, and regulations you want to add to your terms and conditions. In the previous section, we’ve already discussed those points. Have a close look and match them with your requirements and finally bring out the final list of guidelines.

For your convenience, here is a summary-

  • Limitation of Liability
  • Information Accuracy
  • Customer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Pricing and Payment Terms
  • Shipping, Returns, and Refunds
  • Trademarks / Intellectual Property / Copyrights
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Product Review
  • Loyalty Programs and Promotions
  • Amendments to the Agreement

Depending on your business nature, location, and country laws, you may need to add more claws to protect your eCommerce store and your rights. Such as-

  • Loyalty programs and promotions
  • Supplier rights and responsibilities
  • Termination of contract
  • Terms of Use

Step 2: Write Your eCommerce Terms and Conditions

After all the research now you are ready to write terms and conditions for your eCommerce website.

However, it would be a little bit tricky to design your terms and conditions from the scratch. A comprehensive template creates an easy way to go. You’ll get a number of ready templates on the internet. Later, you can customize it according to your needs.

Hit the below button to get sample terms and conditions doc for your online store-

If you run an eCommerce business using a WooCommerce store, you can use a WordPress privacy policy & terms generator plugin. This will make your task easier.

Step 3: Publish Your eCommerce Terms & Conditions

Once you’ve done with all the customizations, it’s time to publish the agreement on your site. Remember the main intention of this document is to save your shop from all kinds of disputes and give you legal protection.

So, it’s crucial to make your terms and conditions visible on your site so people can easily notice them. You can place it in several important places where usually visitors check for this agreement. Such as-

1. Include a static link to your website footer
2. Do links within other agreements like Privacy Policy
2. In a menu within your mobile app (typically in an About, Legal, or Info menu)
3. On your account registration/ sign-up pages
4. On any checkout or order finalization pages

Here are some more ways to write terms and conditions for an eCommerce website-

Use a Terms and Conditions Generator

Browsing online you’ll get some proactive tools to create custom terms and conditions, terms of service, or terms of use. You can check a few of them and pick one that can serve in a better way.

In these tools, you can select the type of website you want to create the T & C page for. Also, you get the flexibility to customize the look and content of your terms. So, it can match the unique style of your website or app.

Our suggested Terms and Conditions Generator: Termly, TermsFeed, Zyro, etc.

Hire A Lawyer

If you have enough budget then hire a lawyer who has expertise in writing eCommerce terms and conditions. Describe your needs and the basic evaluation process of your store. And leave the rest of the responsibilities to the expert.

There are many renowned companies or law firm that provides service in this manner. If you contact them, they’ll appoint an attorney for you. And the responsible person will prepare the eCommerce terms and conditions doc.

But hiring a lawyer may cost you from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. That is a bit expensive and also unnecessary for most small to medium businesses, especially for startups.

FAQs on How to Write Terms and Conditions for An eCommerce Website

Why are terms and conditions necessary for an eCommerce site?

These are the main reasons to have terms and condition page on your site-

1. Empower you to terminate accounts of people who commit abuses
2. Give a platform to establish ownership of your own product or content
3. Lessen the liability of the store owner in case of any unexpected error occurs
4. Allow you to set out the legal jurisdiction for a particular area or country
5. Inform your users about the guidelines for using your website or mobile app

What are the benefits of having a Terms and Conditions agreement?

The key benefit of having a dedicated terms and condition page is that it gives you complete control over your online shop. Also, setting the rules and guidelines that a user must follow to get access to your online shop is a great way to keep your site organized.

This agreement is beneficial for the users as well. It tells them what they should expect from your business, what they are not allowed to do on your site, or how to react in a particular situation like arbitration and canceling their own accounts.

Without proper terms and conditions, you can’t explain your store’s rules and regulations publicly and convey them to your users. In turn, consumers can take advantage of your “lawless” platform.

Moreover, it could be a wide platform to answer some general queries of your customers. Such as, you may get several questions about how you handle user-generated content rights or which rule violation tends you to ban an account.

How do I make my Terms and Conditions agreement enforceable?

In order to make your Terms and Conditions enforceable, you can use the un-ticked checkbox. Place it next to a link to your agreement. And a statement with a box saying something like – “By clicking the “I Accept” button you agree to our Terms and Conditions agreement.”

Without accepting the agreement, users won’t get access to your website’s content.

What are the difference between terms and conditions, terms of use, and terms of service?

Technically there is no difference between terms and conditions, terms of use, and terms of service. All refer to the same legal agreement. In different industries, regions, or types of businesses, people prefer to use an individual type of title for their site.

Finishing with How to Write Terms and Conditions for An eCommerce Website

A large number of eCommerce shops are launched every day. But how many of them are sustained in long run? Study shows eCommerce has a failure rate of about 80%-90%. And two key factors behind this failure could be poor user experience and lack of trust. eCommerce terms and conditions work as a powerful tool to boost your customers’ confidence.

As we’ve said above, depending on your business type and customer base few points of the agreement may change. But the core clauses of your eCommerce Terms and Conditions should include-

  • Limitation of Liability
  • Information Accuracy
  • Customer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Pricing and Payment Terms
  • Shipping, Returns, and Refunds
  • Trademarks / Intellectual Property / Copyrights
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Product Review
  • Links to Other Websites
  • Amendments to the Agreement

Keep your agreement tone simple, straightforward, and transparent. And update your terms and conditions from time to time. It gives your users a concrete guideline to use your site as well as helps you resolve any issues that may come up. That is beneficial for both you and your buyers.

As an entrepreneur, you should know about the terms and phrases commonly used in eCommerce. Check this article- eCommerce Glossary: 80+ Terms You Should Know in 2022.

Do you have any further queries on how to write terms and conditions for an eCommerce website? Do use the comment section below.

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