As sales of goods online continue to surge in popularity, and with a record-breaking online Christmas sales forecast this year, a new guide has been launched for UK-based businesses that sell goods over the internet.
Published by Business Companion, a free online information portal created by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with support from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), ‘Sellinggoods via online platforms: Guidance for traders’ serves as a one-stop-shop for anyone selling goods online who may be unsure about their responsibilities in a variety of areas of consumer protection law.
It includes up-to-date information about returns, refunds and cancellations, as well as guidance on contracts, delivery, complaint handling and dispute resolution.
For UK traders who sell their goods to consumers elsewhere in Europe, the guide includes a section on the new legislation they must follow when it comes to their VAT obligations.
The guidance is broken down into bitesize chunks on the Business Companion website, and is also available as a downloadable PDF, along with an explainer video and a podcast.
Additional resources include a pre-contractual information checklist so that managers and staff can be confident that they are following the rules – and that their customers are receiving the information they must be provided with under the law.
Consumer protection and compliance expert Clare Forbes, who wrote the guidance, says: “The guide is aimed at any business that sells online, and specifically those that sell via platforms like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Gumtree, or social networks.
“Online sellers need to be aware of consumer rights to have goods that are satisfactory quality and that are fit for purpose and as described – that would apply wherever you’re selling. But the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 are the key piece of legislation that governs all online sales.
“There are certain pieces of information that businesses must give to consumers up-front. It’s all about making sure that consumers have got enough information to make an informed decision.”
David MacKenzie, CTSI Joint Lead Officer for e-Commerce, says: “At the end of the day, dealing with complaints well and treating people well is the right thing to do. But it’s not only the right thing to do; it’s the only way to make a profit in any kind of sustained way.
“This is our mantra all the time to businesses; the only way you’re going to be successful in the medium to long term is by treating people well. Certainly complying with the law, but probably going a little bit extra to provide excellent service and best practice.”
To read the guide, click here.