If you are starting a new online business, or considering bringing your business online, there are several user-friendly platforms you can use. When looking for a platform to use for your new business, you may come across the its terms and conditions. However, you should have your own written terms and conditions to address the issues associated with the sale of your goods and services. This article considers the common platforms available for your online business, and whether you should rely on your own terms and conditions for each.

E-Commerce Solutions

Platforms like Shopify and Big Cartel are known as e-commerce solutions. They provide customisable, pre-built websites you can use to sell your products. It is almost like hiring a physical space in a shopping centre, only online.

The landlord may then provide you with terms and conditions detailing how you can use the space and when you need to pay rent. However, you should have your own terms and conditions, between you and your customers, to address the key issues that arise when selling products online.

eBay

eBay has come a long way since it first established itself in the 1990s. Initially, it focused on helping people auction off used goods. The platform is now used by hundreds of businesses to sell their new products through what is called an eBay Store. The basics still apply though. You list your product for a fixed price, ship it and then get paid.

However, can you rely on eBay’s terms and conditions? The short answer is no. This is because the platform’s terms and conditions do not address the sale between you and the customer. They only set out how you, as the seller, should use eBay as a platform. Common terms such as your delivery and refund policy are left for you to determine at your discretion.  

The only instance in which eBay will intervene is when a customer files a complaint against you. For example, if they never received the product or received a product that did not look like the advertisement. This is known as the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Amazon

Amazon recently entered the Australian market. It now allows locals to sign up and sell their products from Australia.

Essentially, Amazon is a traditional marketplace. Here, a seller signs up, lists their product and fulfils the order when the system notifies them that a purchase has been made.

Fulfilment by Amazon

Amazon significantly distinguishes itself from other platforms in the industry through its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service. FBA sells your products for you. Some key features include:

  • you can store your inventory within Amazon’s fulfilment centres;
  • their team monitors your listings. When an order comes through, they pick, pack and ship the product for you; and
  • their team handles all customer service enquiries for you. If a customer wants a refund or exchange, they will handle the enquiry and process it.

If you use FBA, you can rely on Amazon’s terms and conditions. However, this means you will be required to fulfil certain obligations. For example, if you become an FBA seller, you agree to provide your customers with a refund or exchange within 30 days, with the exclusion of specific products, as set out in Amazon’s terms and conditions.

Amazon Marketplace Sellers

If you are not an FBA seller on Amazon, then you are a marketplace seller. This means you cannot rely on Amazon’s terms and conditions. Here, Amazon acts as a facilitator and leaves it up to you to determine the terms and conditions associated with selling your products.

However, there is an exception. Amazon provides a dispute resolution service, which ensures a safe buying environment, known as the A-z Guarantee. A customer may make a claim under the A-z Guarantee if they have a problem with your products or services. If the claim is successful, the customer will then receive up to $2,500 of the purchase price, including shipping charges.

The general conditions for making an A-z Guarantee claim are where customers have:

  • contacted the seller;
  • waited two business days for a response;
  • met one of Amazon’s A-z Guarantee conditions. For example, if you failed to deliver your product to a customer within three days of the estimated delivery date, or 30 days within the order date, whichever comes first, then they have 90 days within the estimated delivery date to file a claim.

Key Takeaways

Managing an online shop is easier than ever with these platforms available. However, before you use another platform to sell your products, you should review its terms and conditions.

The platform’s terms and conditions may not cover what happens between you and your customers. Therefore, you should consider drafting your own terms and conditions. If you need help drafting terms and conditions, contact LegalVision’s e-commerce lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Justin Ocsan
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