How To Ensure Your Online Business Remains Compliant


Compliance is a costly but necessary evil for your business. Lack of proper compliance can cost you multiple times compared to the cost of compliance. Know how to keep your business compliant with all regulations, the best way to do it and the timetable you need to follow.

Complying with business regulations may seem costly, but according to statistics on Insights For Professionals, companies lose $4 million on average because of a single non-compliance issue. If you're starting an online business or want to expand your existing venture, you should know that staying compliant with e-commerce laws is critical to its success. Failure to adhere to online business rules and regulations often results in serious implications. On top of losing vast sums of cash in fines, you risk losing sensitive data to hackers. You're also likely to face copyright issues, which can significantly destroy your business reputation. So, how can you ensure you stay on the right side of e-commerce laws? Below are essential tips on how to ensure your online business remains compliant.

Meet Website Compliance Requirements


E-commerce law requires all websites to provide detailed information about their owner or brand responsible for managing the e-commerce site. For example, let's say you own a website that sells goods or services to consumers. You have a legal obligation to provide the company's name, contact details, physical address, and product information. But that's not all. You must comply with additional standards, including how you advertise your products. The law also requires details about delivery and cancellation policies and how buyers commit to paying for your offerings.

One of the best ways to comply with this law is by creating a legal terms and conditions page. However, the design and function of the website plus content must be compliant. In e-commerce, most websites run cookies to collect data from users visiting the site. Depending on the settings added on a website, cookies may enable access to accounts, payments, baskets, and targeted marketing. As a general rule of thumb, website owners must provide cookie policies and notices to ensure they collect the required consent from website visitors.

Protect Your Customer's Privacy And Data


Many e-commerce sites rely a lot on consumer data to enhance the customer experience for shoppers. Unfortunately, not all big data collected on e-commerce sites is available for analytics. Data privacy laws worldwide restrict online business owners from using customers' full names, credit card numbers, addresses, and social security numbers for analytics. In some countries, online store owners are expected to ask customers for permission to collect, store, and use their data.

You can adhere to this law by writing a website privacy policy that explains how you use consumer information. Also, explain if consumer data shared on your site is confidential or distributed to third-party websites. And share details regarding the safety measures you have in place to protect customer information from hackers. Note that having a privacy policy isn't about meeting regulatory standards only; it's key to building trust with customers and boosting your business' credibility. With this in mind, make sure to write a privacy policy in line with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) laws.

Hold Electronic Information To A Higher Standard


As more and more businesses conduct their processes online, website owners are required by law to have policies that account for electronic information. Ensure that all your electronic records, whether it's stored in hard disks, backup tapes, servers, flash drives, or other mobile devices, are included in your retention plan. One of the best ways to manage your electronic records and stay compliant is determining what information counts as a record. Then create data policies and practices that help you manage litigation holds securely. You should also have a destruction plan for all your electronic information when the retention period ends.

You should also record and track organizational information, review and audit records annually, and most importantly, capture records without interfering with the end users' work. For example, archive your website instead of taking screenshots of content or customer details. According to Mirrorweb.com, archiving helps you remain compliant with on-demand electronic records, including communication, and improve your digital conduct. This practice goes a long way in ensuring you're audit-ready within a short deadline. That's because when you archive a website, you capture, index, store, and replay content easily.

Define Your Shipping And Delivery Policy


A well-defined shipping and delivery policy are important must-have features on your e-commerce site so that your customers know when their products will be shipped. This policy should also have precise details on how you deliver goods. Make sure to specify estimated delivery timeframes and fees and terms on shipping promotions. In most cases, online sellers offer shipping discounts to lure customers into spending more on their purchases. For example, you can encourage a higher spend than average by providing free shipping on orders exceeding $200. Having such a policy helps you earn extra revenue from each sale. By providing clear shipping details on your products page and in your terms and conditions policy, you can prevent conflicts that arise from dissatisfied customers. That's because your customers understand the shipping and delivery terms you offer.

Follow PCI Compliance


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI DSS protects e-commerce business owners and customers involved in online payment transactions. PCI standards focus on POS and online transactions, card over phone purchases, and other forms of card-not-present transactions. It's important to note that compliance with Payment Card Industry standards doesn't mean creating a secure and encrypted checkout experience. It involves discarding your customer's purchasing information shared on paper or recording via the phone.

Although PCI isn't a legal requirement, failure to follow its protocols can get you into trouble. For instance, if your company suffers a data breach and investigations reveal you were not compliant with PCI regulations, you may be subject to fines, lawsuits, and insurance claims. Ideally, failing to comply with PCI standards can cost you huge sums of cash, customers, and reputation.

Whether you're selling goods or services online, your website should comply with all e-commerce laws imposed in your state. Doing so is key to preventing legal implications that end up costing you tons of money and customers, resulting in business closure. Therefore, make sure to follow PCI protocols, comply with electronic records standards, create a data and privacy policy, and provide cookie notice.


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