Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Legal regulations for e-commerce

Legal regulations for e-commerce

E-commerce is rapidly evolving and businesses are trying to adapt to these changes. If you are a business owner in the tourism industry, you should keep the legal aspects of e-commerce in mind when deciding to sell your products or services online.

This article will look at:

Mandatory elements for your e-commerce website

As a business person who wishes to distribute products and services via the internet, you are required to obey European legislation on e-commerce regulations. This means your website must clearly notify users of a series of important aspects:

Pre-contractual information

  • the website must tell the visitor how contractual procedures regarding products and/or services will be implemented
  • users must know about the technical means available to them in case they wish to exercise their rights to modify, correct, or eliminate information
  • the website must be clear about its terms of use – as well as indicating how electronic documents containing information on the provider, client, products and/or services will be stored

Post-contractual information

The e-commerce site must confirm all website purchases by notifying the client within 24 hours. These notifications can be delivered electronically or by any other means indicated during the contractual procedures. The only requirement is that the method chosen must allow the client to save the notification.

Withdrawal period

Under the directive on consumer rights, consumers have 14 calendar days to exercise their right to withdraw from the contract if they are not satisfied with the product. The e-commerce website must inform the user of this right. If this right is not clearly stated, the user will have a longer period of 12 months.

Use of cookies

Cookies are pieces of data sent by websites that remain stored on a user’s computer to facilitate future web browsing. However, cookies can also pose a security risk.

This means that your e-commerce website must have a cookies policy informing the user that cookies are being used when they access the website.

Data protection

When gathering user information (via registration, purchase, or contact forms) from those who visit your e-commerce website, you are obligated to notify the user.

You must also indicate both:

  • where their personal data is being registered
  • which management tools they may use for future access, modifications or cancellations

All of these policies are designed to offer a higher level of user security for those browsing e-commerce websites. As a tourism business owner, you must respect these policies on your website.

It is also recommended that you stay informed on e-commerce in the EU single market, including on the European directives aiming to establish a harmonised regulatory framework among EU countries.

Checking that your website complies with e-commerce legislation

Before launching your website, you must make sure that it meets all of the requirements on e-commerce mentioned above. If your website is already active on the internet, it is important to review and revise the page to make sure that it meets these rules and regulations.

To help the process, here are some ways that companies communicate these measures to their clients. This list can serve as a checklist to make sure that everything is in order on your website or on the site that you intend to create.

You must respond ‘yes’ to all of the following questions:

If my website includes a newsletter subscription or a contact form:

  • Is there a visible link to the data protection policy?
  • Is there a small box that the user must tick to confirm that they have read the data protection policy before sending their information?
  • Is there a small box that the user must tick to confirm a purchase where providing personal information was necessary?

When the user accesses my e-commerce website:

  • Do they clearly receive a message (by means of an interactive banner or a small pop-up) informing them of the use of cookies on my website?
  • Is there a link available with information on the use of cookies? Is this located on a permanent part of the website (e.g. at the bottom of the page)?
  • Is there at least one way in which users can contact me to find out more on the contractual legal aspects of products and services on my website? (You can indicate a phone number, an email, a contact form, etc.).

When the user makes a purchase on my website:

  • Before completing the purchase, has all relevant contract information (on delivery periods, payment methods and cancellation options) been specified to the client?
  • Does the user receive a notification of purchase – either electronically or through another method – within 24 hours?

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