Creating an online shop that respects legal constraints

Many people aspire to start their own business. However, "being your own boss" also means taking responsibility and being able to take care of certain legal requirements. As an administrator, you should therefore ensure that your online business meets several requirements, starting with the choice of legal status.

Every e-commerce site must also fulfil certain obligations, particularly with regard to the general terms and conditions of sale or the legal notices. These legal conditions enable the administrators of an e-commerce site to protect themselves from legal liability, without exonerating them. Here is what you need to do to ensure the legal security of your online shop.

Legally compliant webshop: the basics
In principle, the legal basis for online trade does not differ from that of fixed trade. However, there are also a number of legal aspects that apply specifically to web shops.

The most important of these are the legal regulations such as :

The new RGPD
Websites not yet active with the ePrivacy Regulation
The EU Cookie Directive
These three regulations aim to ensure the protection of user or customer data or to make the collection of personal data transparent. According to this regulation, webshop operators must inform their users from the very first moment that personal data is collected when they visit the shop and, in case of a purchase, specify the exact nature of this data and how it is stored. If you do not comply with your obligation to inform, you risk heavy fines. Therefore, if you do not have an adequate solution at hand to inform about the use of cookies you should, in case of doubt, refrain from tracking users' activities.

However, the obligation to inform about the processing of user data is not the only legal constraint of an online shop. The following points also play an important role in complying with the legal aspects of an online shop:

Error detection and correction tools: provide your customers with tools to detect and correct input errors during the ordering process.
Respecting copyright law: Your webshop is a commercial web project. If you want to use content, especially images and photos, for which you do not hold the copyright, the use must be regulated by contract. You can read more about image rights on the web in our separate article on this subject.
Confirm receipt of the order on a "permanent data carrier": You must confirm all contractual contents associated with a purchase in your shop immediately on a "permanent data carrier", e.g. with an email or a printout sent with the goods.
Mark the order button correctly: The button that customers use to place an order must be clear and legible to indicate its function. Terms such as "Finalise Order" or "Buy" are recommended, while "Order" or "Register" are insufficient or even misleading and therefore not in line with the legislation.
Respect the prohibition of geo-blocking: although you can individually define the delivery area for orders in your shop, you cannot exclude from your offer users who have their residence or a branch outside the delivery area. You can find more detailed information in our article on geoblocking.

If your webshop's offer is aimed exclusively at business customers, this must be clearly stated on your website. A simple reference in the general terms and conditions is not sufficient to fulfil your duty to inform about this strategic orientation of your online business.