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Run an online business

Comply with regulations by making the right policies for your website


Run an online business FAQs

  • How to run an online business

    With an increasing number of online businesses and sales, dealing effectively with e-commerce is crucial to any modern business.

    Whether you run a website selling goods or services, or just advertise your wares online, it's important to understand your obligations, even if they just consist of including an appropriate Email footer or contact details. Website terms and conditions and a well-written Website privacy policy can help you comply with the law and help fulfil your data protection requirements. Using specific e-commerce T&Cs governing the Sale of goods or Supply of services to your customers can help you stay in control of your online business.

    Use our Run a business online checklist to tick off things you need to do. 

  • E-commerce and online business

    Most aspects of online commercial activity are covered by a range of laws, such as the E-Commerce Regulations. Whether you're selling goods or services on the web, with or without an integrated customer service management process, or you're simply marketing your products online, it's vital that you have an effective set of terms and conditions to outline the rights and obligations of yourself and your customers. Even if you're just using a website as a form of advertising, you must still provide various information such as your full company details.

    These regulations mean that businesses have to be aware of the new obligations the law imposes on them. Businesses have to provide more information to consumers and allow consumers to cancel their orders within 14 days. For further information, read Online business regulations. Additionally, limited companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) must include legally required information in their business emails. Use an Email footer containing a confidentiality notice as well as an optional disclaimer for this purpose.

  • Website terms and conditions

    Website terms and conditions govern the use of a website by visitors. These are distinct from terms and conditions of business which are concerned with the e-commerce aspects of selling goods or services online, rather than the way in which a website is used. Website terms and conditions set out the legal rights and obligations between you and your website users.

    They should include matters such as details of the website owner/company including contact details, permitted uses of the website content, registration requirements, including password and other security measures and any fees which need to be paid to use the website. They can also include references to a Privacy policy and Cookie policy. Providing an effective set of website T&Cs can help to fulfil some of your legal obligations such as including full business details, and illustrate that you've made every effort to discourage any undesirable activity by users in the case of a legal dispute.

  • Data protection and privacy

    Data protection and privacy laws are particularly important for online businesses which handle personal electronic data or use cookies. The Data Protection Act 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations are two key pieces of legislation dealing with this area. If you process any personal data, you must ensure that it is:

    • used fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner
    • not used beyond specifically stated, explicit and legitimate purposes
    • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and necessary for the relevant purposes
    • accurate and up-to-date
    • kept for no longer than strictly necessary
    • handled according to the data protection rights of individuals
    • kept secure and not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection

    For more information, read Data protection.

    Meanwhile, if you deploy cookies (which are very common, even if you just collect website statistics) you normally have to obtain consent from your users. A professionally written Website privacy policy can help you make your internet business compliant with UK data privacy laws. For further information, read Data privacy and cookies.

  • Terms and conditions for sale of goods or supply of services to consumers via a website

    Separate from the website terms and conditions are the e-commerce terms and conditions of business, which govern the sale of goods or supply of services to your customers. These make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset and help avoid or solve any disputes which do arise. T&Cs should be linked from every page on your website and customers should ideally be presented with T&Cs which need to be accepted by scrolling through them and clicking on an 'accept' button before an order can be placed. Terms and Conditions for the sale of goods to consumers via a website can cover issues such as orders, delivery, pricing, payment, guarantees, cancellation, liability, data privacy and security, and they are compliant with consumer rights legislation. Terms and conditions for the supply of services to consumers via a website must also include information and cancellation rights.

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