As a consumer, terms and conditions are usually only relevant when you scroll to the bottom and click agree. However, as an eCommerce clothing store owner you must know what terms and conditions are and what to include. This is a guide of how to create an eCommerce clothing store with specific terms and conditions.

What Laws Apply To An eCommerce Clothing Store?

Repairs, Replacements, Refunds & Warranties. 

When you set up a business that sells any product you automatically guarantee this product to be as promised. This is called a consumer guarantee. When your product does not live up to this promise you are, more likely than not, obliged to offer a repair, replacement or refund. If the problem with the product is a minor problem – the customer must accept a repair. However, more likely than not with a clothing business the problem will be solved with a refund or replacement of the item. 

If you are confident in your product’s quality, you can offer a warranty. You can offer a warranty on any aspect of the good i.e. quality, function, amount of time it will last etc. However, you should know that any warranty offered is legally enforceable, once offered you cannot back out. 

Licenses and Permits

As an online clothing business, you must comply with the usual business registration practices. However, there are some business specific registrations that may apply to a clothing business. First, if you are planning on engaging workers who do not work in your own factory or workshop to make, package or ship your clothes you must register as an ‘Employer of Outworkers (Clothing Industry). Once registered you will obtain a licence to commence your business and engage these contractors.  The employer of outworkers is specific to NSW, Australia but other states in Australia have similar registrations as it is required by Commonwealth law. 

Product Labelling

If you are making clothing that is completely unique and your creative design you should consider registering the design with the IP Australia. Once you register your product label or clothing style you have a legally enforceable right to the sole use of this product label or clothing style.  Similarly, you cannot use or steal someone else’s registered label.

How Do I Inform My Users Of My Legal Compliance? 

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions are essential for informing your consumers of their rights and your own. They contain any and all expectations for the use of your website and product. They are a great way to protect yourself when running any eCommerce business. However, to protect you the terms and conditions must be legally binding. If your terms and conditions have these three characteristics they are likely to be binding: 

  • The terms and conditions must be agreed to by both you and the customer. 
  • The terms and conditions must be both legal and reasonable. 
  • What the terms and conditions are stating must be clear – no tricks! 

Privacy Policy

If your website is going to collect the information of your users. For example names, addresses or payment information. Then you should have a privacy policy to put your consumers at ease and protect yourself. A privacy policy will detail how you handle private information, security breach handling and how private information will be collected. It must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles, there is a guide of how to do this here

Signage 

Brick and mortar clothing stores may have an opening sign, a list or rule or a welcome sign at their door. The equivalent for an eCommerce clothing store is multi-media contained on your website. The advantage of having multimedia is that it can fulfill a lot of purposes. A video on your website can show off your best selling products and also inform customers of your terms and conditions or other rules and regulations regarding using the site. 

What Should I Include In My Terms and Conditions? 

Returns And Returns Policy 

You cannot refuse a refund or return of a product which has not lived up to your consumer guarantee. However, you can govern under what other conditions under which products can be returned or refunded. This is important to include because it is expensive to replace, refund or re-ship products for your business. While the terms cannot be unfair you should guard yourself against unnecessary returns or refunds because it can cost you big! 

Limits On Purchase Quantities

You have a limited amount of stock as a business. If you have a very limited amount of stock you want to reserve the right to refuse the sale of a product to a person, jurisdiction or geographic location. You can detail that you retain this broad right in your terms and conditions and at the same time notify your customers that you only have limited amounts of your products. This lets you retain control of your product, how you sell it, when you sell it and who you sell it to. 

Disclaimers

Anything regarding your product that you do not explicitly promise or warrant, you should disclaim. This can include a range of things but for example, the timing, accuracy or reliability of your service. Disclaimers ensure that your customers do not have unrealistic expectations of your product or how to use your website.

Copyright Notices

Copyright in Australia applies automatically. Therefore, it is not necessary to notify the customer of the risks of copyright infringement. However, explicitly stating that copyright applies to your product and will be enforced can save you a lot of headaches. After all, it can not hurt!

Terms & Conditions Considerations for eCommerce Business

Disclaimer On Accuracy Of Website information

On your website you should always endeavour to have the most up to date information. However, details and facts can change and as a business owner you do not necessarily get notified of these changes. To ensure that your customers are not misled by the information and protect yourself you should include a clause in your terms and conditions which notifies your customers that information is not always accurate. You should also include a clause which says you are not accountable for the accuracy of information on the page. 

Pricing Changes Disclaimer

You want to be able to retain your right to change the price of your product at any time. This is because the cost of producing your product can vary according to any range of factors. You do not want your customers believing that the cost of your product will always stay the same. To protect yourself and moderate your customers expectations you should consider inserting a clause into your terms and conditions stating you can change the price at any time. 

Third-Party Links Disclaimer

Any business wants to be responsible solely for their own actions, not for anyone else’s. In the eCommerce world the way you make sure of this is through ‘Third-Party Link Disclaimers’. You may include content from outside your company on your website, this is common. However, by stating in your terms and conditions that you are not responsible for any of this content contained in third-party links you can ensure you are protected against others actions. 

User Generated Content Disclaimer

Lots of eCommerce websites have forums which allow customers to leave testimonials, comments or reviews. If you want to be able to use or edit this content without customer permission you should let them know! Placing a disclaimer notifying the customer that their comments can be used for advertising or other means, moderated if offensive or against policy or altered/used in a different way will protect your right to do so. 

Still Unsure… 

Running any business is super exciting. If you’re confused about any legal or commercial aspect of setting up this business, reach out to Sprintlaw. We can help clarify any confusion and make sure you enjoy this exciting time!

You can reach out to us at team@sprintlaw.com.au or contact us on 1800 730 617 for an obligation-free chat.

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. We’re on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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