2020 and the rapid rise of e-commerce

18th February 2021

It has been almost a year since many businesses in England, and worldwide, were thrown into turmoil with the introduction of restrictions on individuals and businesses alike, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

For many ‘non-essential’ retailers, this meant that their physical business premises had to close their doors temporarily, and for those that were able to later re-open, further challenges were presented with the requirements for social distancing, the introduction of COVID-19 secure measures at business premises, and reduced footfall.

The World Trade Organization noted ‘spikes’ in both business to consumer sales, and business to business e-commerce during 2020. There is no doubt that the enforcement measures imposed have led countless businesses to re-consider their business models, and to adapt to introduce new, or to improve existing, e-commerce offerings to their customers.

For many, long held plans for the development or improvement of e-commerce platforms were quickly escalated, and for others, those platforms were entirely novel. In each case however, the fast-paced developments involved, may have left little time to consider the wide-ranging requirements that must be met when trading online and operating a website.

Making sure that a website is legally compliant, involves the navigation of a myriad of legislation and best practice guidance across a variety of subject areas. By way of just a few examples, website operators should:

  1. Implement a set of terms of use to stipulate how their website is to be used;
  2. Carefully consider who their customers are and whether those customers attract any additional requirements, for example, to meet the various laws applicable to selling to consumers by distance means (such as the right for the consumer to return goods for no reason);
  3. Ensure that all relevant information about the organisation and its goods and services is provided on the website, including the minimum information requirements under the E-Commerce Regulations 2002; and
  4. Check that requirements of direct marketing and data protection laws are met when gathering personal details of customers and enquirers.

Reviewing the information and legal documents displayed on your websites at regular intervals is recommended, to make sure that they are compliant with changing requirements.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming ‘e-commerce checklist’ which will help in suggesting some key areas to consider in an initial review.

Need some guidance on compliance? We’re here to help – get in touch.

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