In our section on ecommerce we examined some of the legal and practical aspects of running an ecommerce site, such as how to establish an online presence, choose a web host, domain name and set up a website. We discussed the importance of having a good website development agreement which sets out clearly the rights and expectations of both parties.
Some of the practical problems that can arise for online businesses when without such an agreement in place with their web developer, are discussed here. This particular oversight left the website owner uncertain about the ownership of their domain name, after discovering that their web developer had registered their domain name in their name.
In the section on contracts we discussed the elements necessary for the formation of a valid electronic contract, and what types of practices could compromise the validity of an contract formed online.
If you have an e-commerce site you are going to want to be able to incorporate e-commerce functionality into your website so that your customers can buy goods and/or service online through which you can reliably and securely accept payments online, whether via a website or a mobile application.
How do you choose on the ecommerce solution which is going to be suitable for not only your customers, but also your suppliers and business partners? There are many ecommerce solutions on the market which may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Some of the online payment mechanisms available are discussed here.
However, whichever ecommerce solution you choose, make sure that it makes your ordering, invoicing and payment activities easy to manage.
When implementing ecommerce functionality into your website you should be considering shopping cart options, payment gateways, electronic payment systems and registration and login modes.
A solution that accommodates potential goods and services tax issues where they arise in international transactions is also a consideration.
There are a number of potential legal issues to consider which are canvassed in the Australian Guidellines To Electronic Commerce. Whilst these guidelines are more of a Code of Conduct, and are not therefore of a binding legal nature they set out ‘best practice’ for ecommerce providers to consider when conducting business online.
Within the guidelines you will find useful information on advertising and marketing, transacting with minors, privacy, security, payment mechanisms and the disclosure obligations relating to business details which should appear on your website.
Selling through your own website involves a lot of planning and compliance issues, however for those businesses that have sold only on platforms like ebay and which to branch out, it provides an option to sell directly to your custoners without paying ebay’s fees. However, ebay does attract potentially millions of customers therefore learning how to find your host, create a website, manage, control and market it may seem a daunting task.
However once once you have established your own ecommerce site you can give your existing customers an alternative way to interact with you and build your brand by customising your store, leading you to greater revenue and independence.