Consumer trust in online businesses is growing partly due to the availability of external third party reviews. Below, we look at how online businesses can build trust with their customers by using legal methods to increase transparency about their operations.

1. Website Terms and Conditions

Whether you are operating a business that offers goods or services, properly disclosing how a customer can interact with the platform is crucial to building consumer trust. Website terms and conditions can include details such as:

  • The scope of work;
  • Ordering processes;
  • Purchase terms;
  • Privacy obligations; and
  • Refund or warranty provisions.

The ACCC has provided guidelines as to the standard of website terms and conditions and have noted that they have to be clear and prominent. These guidelines include not being unnecessarily lengthy and not being in fine print. Further a business should seek to have terms and conditions that are understandable to the average customer and are easily accessible.

Website terms and conditions will ultimately govern the relationship between the online business and customer and should include all the information that will allow a customer to make a decision to purchase an item or use a service.

2. Presenting Information

Although product or service information does not necessarily form a part of the website terms and conditions, their availability on a website is important. It allows a customer to know what they are purchasing exactly.

Having product or service information limits the chances of a claim that an online business is providing false and misleading information. For example, an online fashion website that only provides the price and a blurry image of a product will not be as valuable to a customer as a website with details such as the price, material and various images.

On top of providing as much information about a good or service, businesses should also seek to provide accurate details about the price. Pricing details should include information about GST, card surcharges and delivery costs.

3. Policies

An online business should have policies in place that address their particular good or service. For example, policies referring to warranties, or refunds and returns, will be relevant for an online retail website. For marketplaces, policies relating to conduct and behaviour, and dispute resolution between traders and buyers, will be important.

You should ultimately determine what policies you will need according to what you sell and your relationship with your customers. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all policy that suits every online business.

Key Takeaways

The key point that online businesses should remember is that transparency is essential when building consumer trust. Not only will consumer trust help you increase sales, but from a legal perspective, it will also ensure that you are not providing false and misleading information.

Do you need assistance drafting any website terms and conditions or policies for your website? Get in touch with our online business lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Kristine Biason
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