Understanding Terms and Conditions Page for Your E-Commerce Store

Only about one in a thousand of your website visitors will refer to your T&Cs page.

“As a small online business, can I save the bother of writing this boring legal document if no one reads it anyway?”, you may naturally ask.

Though not compulsory, your store’s “terms and conditions” is possibly one of the most important pages on your site. It outlines all the rules users must follow in order to use your website. These rules are designed to protect you, your business, and your customers in case of a dispute.

What exactly should your website’s terms and conditions page include? And how do you go about creating one? We’ll answer every question you have but hesitate to ask.

Related: 6 Major Legal Policy Fails of Fortune 500s and Their Lessons to Take Away

What is a Website Terms and Conditions Page?

Website terms and conditions, a.k.a. “terms of service” or “conditions of use”, is a legal pact between your website and its users. It defines your liabilities and informs users about their rights and limitations.

Usually, this page is legally binding and can be used in a court of law to settle a dispute. It identifies the website’s owner and the area of jurisdiction. It also identifies the website’s responsibilities, liabilities, trademarks & copyrights, and informs users how to contact the business for legal recourse.

This document can be as expansive as necessary. Large websites often have dozens of clauses defining every aspect of your interaction with their business. Amazon’s terms and conditions page, for instance, is nearly 3,500 words long and covers everything from copyright infringement to instructions on how to serve a subpoena.

Why Do You Need Terms and Conditions for Your Website?

While you are usually required by law to include a privacy policy page, there is often no legal requirement to include a terms and conditions page on your site. You can easily run a business without ever identifying your liabilities and your customers’ limitations.

The problem arises in case a customer takes you to court, abuses their account, or infringes on your copyrights. Without clearly identifying the terms and conditions of use, you might not have any legal recourse in case of a dispute.

Think of it as a contract every person who lands on your site automatically agrees to. In case of any dispute, a court will look at this contract to determine your rights and liabilities.

This is also why it is important to have legally robust terms and conditions. You want something that can hold up in a court of law.

What is the Difference Between “Terms and Conditions” and “Privacy Policy”?

If you’ve ever scrolled to the bottom of a website, you might have noticed a number of links to legal pages such as “terms and conditions”, “privacy policy”, etc.

For example, here’s Gap.com’s footer covering major aspects of the company’s legal operations:

Terms and conditions sample

Chief among these are the “terms and conditions” and “privacy policy” pages. Although they might sound similar, they cover very different areas — legally speaking.

The privacy policy:

  • Covers your processes for collecting and handling private customer data such as their emails, phone numbers, location information, etc.
  • Is usually mandated by law for any website collecting any sort of customer data. If you’re using any sort of tracking code or cookies (such as a Google Analytics…