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Legal Docs for Online Stores: Protection and Trust [with Templates]

11 min read

Call me old-fashioned, but when I come across a new brand or online store, I need some time to warm up to it before I make a purchase. Awesome products are not enough to make me add everything to my cart and rush straight to the checkout. I can’t provide my card information to a website until I feel like I trust it.

At the same time, as a person with a digital background, I know how to scope out almost any brand for reliability with things like Wappalyzer, Alexa, SEOquake, or by just by knowing my way around a Google search.

Unfortunately, most customers that come to your online store by clicking ads in search engines and on social media have no idea who you are and have out ZERO trust in your store. They also don’t know how to check your brand for reliability, and most importantly, they don’t want to waste time trying to figure it out.

So how can you earnestly and quickly persuade potential customers that you are a serious business, not an internet-based crook?

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Legal Docs for Trust

There are numerous ways to fix the so-called “trust problem” with marketing tools like reviews, mentions in the press, misty stats, influencers tweets, etc., but one of the BEST ways to make friends with a customer is simply transparency.

How do you sell, why do you sell, how do you deliver, and what will happen after that? Uncovering the details of the entire shopping experience (including delivery) through answering these simple questions is the key to your customer’s hearts.

Knowing all the steps they’ll go through, the consequences of their purchase, and ways to get through any possible problems they might encounter gives a shopper a feeling of safety. If we know all the turns waiting for us along the road in advance, we are more likely to make the first step towards a purchase.

A great way for me to gain trust in an unknown brand is by looking at their legal docs!

These docs are also known as legal pages, terms, policies, etc. But whatever the name, the point is that these documents are a public declaration made by the brand — their obligation to comply with a level of service that will protect my rights as a consumer.

I know that if the brand breaks its own rules, the consequences will be dire for them, and they know it. This makes me feel safe. The quality of the legal docs: the structure, consistency, and even wording reflect the level of business maturity and spawns the feeling that “these guys can be trusted.”

Legal policies demonstrate the will of the business to be transparent, creating a more customer-centric shopping experience.

Legal Docs for Protection

My life was a kaleidoscope back in the day. I’ve worn so many hats, and one of them was an entrepreneur’s cap. So I can tell you firsthand: I’ve seen selling from the merchant’s point of view. It was lots of fun; an exploration filled with discovery — but sometimes it could also be a little stressful. There were days I felt like I had all the evil eyes on me  police, fire department, suppliers, financial control service, even taxi drivers!

Fortunately, this was just an illusion. But interacting with a variety of regulatory services, I learned one thing — you have to have all your docs in order, nice and clean. Your ducks in a row, as it were. My mistake was to treat this Big Brother control as hostile to my business. But in fact, it was exactly the opposite: these regulators were trying to help me to protect my business from fines, complaints, and even legal action. They meant well.

The same thing happens when you start an online store in any niche — people begin asking questions, while the only thing you want is for them to buy your products. And the solution in this situation is 100% the same — have all your legal docs in order.

Manage risks! Protect your business from frustrating surprises. Legal docs don’t have to be complicated. Sometimes just having them is enough.

We as e-commerce sellers have gotten used to the feeling that e-commerce has no boundaries. And yes, some rules are different on the internet. But in the world of legislation, laws, taxes, commissions, etc., boundaries still exist, and it looks like they are not going anywhere.

So do yourself a favor, get your business ready in advance. It’s not that hard, after all. We’ll show you:

Legal Documents to Have for Online Store

Ready to roll? Alright, here’s the list of must-have legal docs for any store in the online world:

  • Terms and Conditions. Describe the legally binding rules, terms, and guidelines that everyone has to agree with to use your website and services.
  • Privacy Policy. Describe how you collect, handle, and process data of your customers and visitors.
  • Shipping and Payment Information. Describe how you ship or deliver your products and accept payments for the orders.
  • Return and Refund Policy. Describe how you make the returns, exchanges, or refunds if customers are not satisfied with their orders.

In this article, I don’t want to teach you how to write a perfect legal document. Instead, we’ve provided templates of common legal documents that you can download, adapt to your niche, and add to your online store (Ecwid store, hopefully!). The templates are not universal for any type of business, product, or niche, so you’ll have to read them first and edit them to suit your needs.

But in the meantime, let’s get a lowdown on some of the A,B,Cs of legalease.

Terms and Conditions Template for E-commerce

This page is a legal contract between your business and the users of your site and services. It clarifies the conditions of use and enables you to exclude users who abuse the rules you’ve set, maintain your legal rights against potential abusers, and more.

You need a clearly stated contract to protect your website, company, and customers. Review your legal pages carefully before adding them.

Writing T&C for your store, consider including information related to the following areas:

  • Ownership of the site
  • Copyright for the material offered on the website and store pages
  • Liabilities and responsibilities of your business
  • Requirements for using the store
  • Notification upon modification of terms
  • Termination of contract
  • Contact information

Download template

Learn more about the Terms and Conditions Page for Your E-Commerce Store.

Privacy Policy Template for E-commerce

This page describes how personal information is collected, used, and shared on your site. Add it to your store to encourage customers’ trust.

Consider including:

  • Collecting personal information
  • Sharing personal information
  • Using personal information
  • Customers’ rights with regards to their personal information
  • Use of cookies
  • Contact information

Download template

Learn more about How to Write a Privacy Policy for Your E-Commerce Store.

Shipping and Payment Information

This page contains information for your customers about your shipping and payment operations.

Quite often, along with having a separate page for shipping and payment information, merchants answer related questions in the FAQ, which can also be a separate page or a section in the cart or on checkout. Purchasing is a sensitive process, and keeping it as transparent as possible is a beneficial practice.

Shopping and Payment information should vary depending on how you source and send products to customers. As for the payment part, it should cover frequently asked questions about payment methods in your store, possible commissions, currency exchange, etc.

Consider including the following:

  • International and local shipping options
  • Supported shipping zones
  • Shipping costs
  • Policy around returns, exchanges, damages, and lost packages
  • Order processing and delivery times
  • Payment options
  • Payment requirements and instructions
  • Contact information

Download template

Return and Refund Policy

This page describes what customers can do if they are unhappy with the product they received. Clear and thought-out return policies can improve customer satisfaction and protect your business from legal issues.

This policy can include:

  • Damages and issues
  • Exceptions like non-returnable items or items with return limitations
  • Exchanges and refunds
  • Contact information

But before writing a Return Policy, make sure your products fall under the Return regulation. Some products are not returnable under local laws. Usually, these products relate to healthcare, personal hygiene merchandise, or food. Each country has its own non-returnable products list.

Download template

Learn more about How to Write a Good Return Policy for E-сommerce Stores.

In Closing

Legal documents are not an evil thing. They help you protect your business from unexpected issues that can cost you your business (or at least a big chunk of time better spent selling!). At the same time, legal documents make your business more transparent, which is a huge trust booster from your customer’s perspective.

If you have hard times with legal docs, there’s an excellent service that can generate all necessary documents based on your business — TermsFeed. But it’s not free, so make sure it’s an investment you’re willing to make.

I hope you’ll put the templates we’ve provided to good use! Add legal pages to your Ecwid store to make sure your customers feel safe. Give them another reason to trust you.

Do you want to learn more about legal aspects of running an online store?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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