How to write terms and conditions for online store is one of the first things you should ask yourself after deciding to open an e-commerce venture. Although boilerplate language is available, it may not cover every situation that pertains to your business. Because the terms and conditions are a legally binding contract between your company and those who use your website, it's important that they are accurate and comprehensive.

The terms and conditions serve to:

  • Shield the privacy of your customers.
  • Protect your intellectual property (IP).
  • Prevent personal liability exposure.
  • Detail procedures used to resolve conflicts.
  • Describe warranties and limitations.

This document must be customized depending on the type of business, whether you sell to consumers or other businesses, whether you provide goods or services, how you process payments, and the type of personal information you collect from users.

What Are Terms and Conditions?

Clear terms and conditions that follow relevant legal and industry regulations are not mandatory for e-commerce sites, but developing a document of this kind is highly recommended to avoid conflict. The terms and conditions serve as a legal agreement between the website and its users, and those who opt to use your site are bound by the provisions therein.

The terms and conditions should detail exactly what the user may and may not do while receiving services from your site. They should make your intentions transparent to your audience and warn them of the consequences of potential abuses and/or actions that break the terms and conditions. You may want to create a checkbox that the user must check to confirm that he or she has reviewed and agrees to abide by the terms and conditions.

How Do I Prepare to Write Terms and Conditions?

If you are offering a product or service to a large audience, you should create and implement a terms and conditions agreement. This type of legal document is often used for websites and mobile apps. Employment relationships such as consulting should be governed by a traditional contract rather than by terms and conditions. Common inclusions in a terms and conditions document include but are not limited to:

  • Protecting your business from the effects of user misunderstanding.
  • Preventing misuses of your service.
  • Providing penalties for abuses of the service.
  • Protecting your content from misuse or theft.
  • Limiting your personal liability in the event that errors occur so that you will not be held legally responsible.
  • Indicating whether and how users' personal information will be collected, protected, and shared.
  • Describing rules that govern subscriptions or accounts.
  • Detailing circumstances for account suspension or termination.

Terms and conditions must be tailored to your specific business. Once you've created a document that fits your needs, it should be placed in a location online where it can easily be accessed by users. You may even want to require them to access it by creating a pop-up window.

Writing Terms and Conditions

The first statement should indicate the user's acceptance of your terms and conditions. Write this clause using simple language and a large, bold font. If you do not opt to include a checkbox, be sure to note that use of the site and service constitutes acceptance of its terms and conditions.

If you collect and store users' personal information, including but not limited to names, addresses, and credit card numbers, you must have a privacy policy in place. This should detail how this information will be used and whether it will be shared with others. It should also indicate how gathered information will be safely stored.

Include a disclaimer that limits your personal liability in the event that information on the site could have mistakes or errors. This protects you if a user runs into a problem caused by the information you provide.

If your site shares your intellectual property (IP), include a clause designating yourself as the owner. IP includes, but is not limited to, content, designs, logos, trade secrets, and other material you have created.

If users pay for your service, include a payment policy that details acceptable payment methods, how they will be processed, and whether and how refunds and returns will be accepted. If goods are shipped, you should include a statement noting that your responsibility for shipping ends when the package is in the hands of the third-party service. Indicate how late deliveries will be handled.

Indicate the circumstances under which an account can be terminated, such as breach or abuse of terms and conditions.

If you need help with writing terms and conditions for your e-commerce store, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.