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How to write Terms and Conditions for an e-commerce website in the UK?

Operating an online business is a lucrative opportunity to explore in today’s digitally connected world. 

Protecting your business is a priority whether you sell products via a small online store or run a large-scale e-commerce business. One of the best ways to do so is through Terms and Conditions.

Whether you have an existing website or are just starting to build a website, it is essential to understand the importance of the “Terms and Conditions” section.

In the following sections, we explore what the Terms and Conditions for an e-commerce website in the UK mean. We offer detailed information on whether e-commerce Terms and Conditions are mandatory, why they’re important, how to create your website terms, and more.

Understanding Terms and Conditions 

Before going into detail, it’s important to note that Terms and Conditions apply not only to e-commerce sites. 

They can also inform users, suppliers, and partners about business rules and guidelines on mobile applications, software solutions, social media platforms, and websites that don’t classify as e-commerce. 

However, in this article, we focus solely on Terms and Conditions for e-commerce websites in the UK.

What are the Terms and Conditions for an e-commerce website?

Terms and Conditions, or Terms of Service, an End User Services Agreement, or a Terms of Use Agreement, provide guidance and outline rules and policies between your e-commerce website and its users.

The fundamental role of Terms and Conditions is to serve as a legal document between the company and its customers. It allows the business to establish legal protection against users and vice versa. 

For example, this legal agreement enables you to exclude individuals from your website in policy violation or abuse cases. 

At the same time, it outlines what website users can expect from your business once they visit your e-commerce shop and purchase products or services or interact with your website’s content. 

Some information disclosed in the Terms and Conditions sections of e-commerce sites features shipping, delivery, payment methods, and cancellation conditions

Terms and Conditions vary depending on the specifics of the e-commerce business they represent.

Do you need Terms and Conditions on your website?

Although extremely useful for users and e-commerce websites, Terms and Conditions are not legally required. 

Unlike other legal regulations like Privacy Policies, Terms and Conditions are optional. Regardless, it’s important to note that consumer protection regulations require some of the information they provide. 

However, providing e-commerce terms on your website is highly recommended. We’ll explore the benefits of this agreement in the following sections.

Are Terms and Conditions legally binding?

The fact that Terms and Conditions are not legally required creates controversies related to their validity when it comes to taking legal action or addressing legal disputes. 

Terms and Conditions can be legally binding. However, this statement is only accurate if the users have read and officially accepted the document. 

This agreement can’t be considered automatically legally binding as it’s often not signed or accepted. A large portion of ecommerce website users never read its T&Cs. 

To enforce the legitimacy of your Terms and Conditions, it’s highly recommended to ask your clients, suppliers, and partners to sign this document at the start of your business relationship. 

Once the user agrees to your T&C document, its contents are considered legally binding.

Writing terms and conditions for ecommerce websites

Why are Terms and Conditions recommended to have?

Terms and Conditions for e-commerce websites in the UK and worldwide prove that business terms have been embraced throughout customer contracts and dealings

It’s recommended that they be included in your site content for the following reasons.

Restricted liabilities

Businesses can limit certain liabilities through the liability disclaimer sections in the Terms and Conditions. This enables them to legally set the ground rules for their responsibilities to be held accountable. 

In most cases, the popular clauses that limit liabilities include a warranty disclaimer and a no-responsibility clause

Via these sections, businesses can restrict their liability concerning user experience, downtime, product or service damage, viruses, and other errors.

Protection against users

Some e-commerce sites permit users to engage with others, creating possible scenarios for posting defamatory content or performing prohibited online activity. 

The T&C section of your website allows you to state your legal rights to eliminate abusive users from the website and delete any content that violates your guidelines. 

While policies related to abusive users vary from site to site, the most popular reasons for banning individuals include:

  • Prohibited activities;
  • Web scraping;
  • Spamming;
  • Bullying.

Intellectual property rights

Another essential reason to include Terms and Conditions in your UK-based e-commerce website is to establish and protect your intellectual property rights

The intellectual property section of your T&C agreement can help reduce the chances of disputes around ownership or copyright infringement. 

Through this clause, you can state the types of content, branding, or materials that you do not permit others to copy or use. You can also display the consequences of violating this clause, like holding users accountable for damages and associated legal fees. 

While the components protected in this section may vary, some of the most frequently mentioned ones include company logos, content produced by the business (text, photos, and videos), and other creative ideas and marks.

Resolve disputes

Most importantly, Terms and Conditions can help you quickly and smoothly resolve disputes via a transparent and stated process. 

This document informs your users and partners about the regulations that shape your policy and describes the procedure for settling conflicts.

What Terms and Conditions should be on an e-commerce website in the UK?

What your T&C agreement covers is ultimately subject to your industry, how users interact with your e-commerce site, and other business specifics. 

However, some of the most frequently used clauses on the Terms and Conditions page include the following.

Introduction 

Many businesses start their Terms and Conditions agreement with an introduction written in plain language. 

This section aims to familiarise users with your business and what it represents. Briefly explain who you are and mention who the terms apply to. 

Don’t forget to include your business name and state that any individual using your e-commerce site must abide by the rules and policies outlined in your T&C agreement. 

It’s advisable to include implied consent, meaning those who continue using your site are subject to the terms outlined in your T&C document. 

A great example of structuring this section can be seen on the Office for National Statistics website, which states: 

By using the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website, you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions outlined.

Age Limitation 

If your e-commerce site sells age-restricted products, it’s crucial to include an age-limitation clause in your Terms and Conditions. 

By doing so, you are either restricting underage users from using your site and purchasing products or requisition permission from a parent or guardian.

How to write terms and conditions for ecommerce website

Intellectual Property 

Earlier, we mentioned intellectual property and noted that this section is related to the ownership rights of the business and any trademark laws that must be abided by users. 

This section describes any content or materials that are trademarked by the business, prohibiting others from using or sharing them without your consent. 

By agreeing to the intellectual property clause of your Terms and Conditions, users confirm that they are aware of your ownership over outlined marks and ideas. 

They also consent to only use trademarked components for personal and noncommercial use, without selling, changing, renting, loaning, sharing, or distributing your intellectual property. 

User Contribution 

If your e-commerce website permits user-generated contributions, like product reviews, creating a User Contribution clause in your Terms and Conditions is highly advisable. 

This agreement section aims to state users’ rights over the on-site information they create. 

User Contribution sections may be extensive on some websites that encourage users to participate in a community with diverse activities or share their own material. 

However, for most e-commerce websites, the content generated by users is only limited to reviews, enabling this section to be short and easy to understand.

Third Parties

Third-party clauses are a must-have for e-commerce websites, including third-party links (links that direct the user to a page that is not under your ownership and control) on-site. 

By including this clause in your Terms and Conditions, you are stating that you can’t be held accountable for the information provided on third-party websites.

If you provide any third-party goods on your website, ensure you’ve informed users and partners that you are not responsible for producing these items. Also, ensure that you have signed seller agreements with your suppliers to avoid legal conflicts in marketing their products. 

Here’s an example of how Citizens Advice handles this clause:

We’re not responsible for the content of websites we link to. By including links, we’re not endorsing the linked websites, and we’re not connected to the people who run them. We can’t control the availability of pages we link to on other websites.

This clause outlines that you are solely responsible for the content, goods, and services you provide and don’t have control over external links.

User Registration 

Most e-commerce websites in the UK permit individuals to create registrations on the site. 

This not only allows businesses to differentiate shoppers from other users but also makes purchasing products and services quicker and more convenient. 

If your business supports user profiles, it’s highly advisable to include a user registration clause in your Terms and Conditions. 

This section will enable you to establish clear customer expectations and limit liabilities. Part of the information provided in this clause concerns users keeping credentials confidential, protecting login details, and taking action in case of stolen credentials or account hacks. 

Promotional Codes 

Most e-commerce businesses use promotional codes heavily to trigger consumer interest and secure more sales, especially regarding seasonal product categories. 

The Promotional Codes clause of your Terms and Conditions should outline all the specifics related to using codes on your website. For example, explain your process of announcing new codes, where users can find information on their duration, how to use them, and more.

Acceptable Uses 

Acceptable Uses is another clause that only applies to e-commerce websites that permit user interaction, usually in the form of customer reviews with commenting options. 

In this section of your Terms and Conditions, you are tasked with describing your site’s acceptable actions and behaviours. For example, a popular statement to make in this clause is that all users are obliged to follow all other policies and terms in the T&C agreement. 

Prohibited Activities and Restrictions 

As a continuation of the Acceptable Uses clause, it’s also advisable to include a Prohibited Activities and Restrictions section in your Terms and Conditions. 

The role of this clause is to include information preventing user misuse on your website.

For example, such information could prohibit violence, sharing discriminatory, abusive, offensive, or pornographic content, performing illegal activities on-site, or sharing other users’ information.

Suspension and Termination 

Another section designed to protect your e-commerce website from abusive users is the Suspension and Termination Clause. 

In this area, you can state your right to delete user accounts based on performed violations that demonstrate breaches of your terms. 

While you can take complete control over the account suspension process, you can also instruct users on how to delete their accounts on their own, if necessary. 

For example, Etsy tackles suspension and termination in the following way:

We may terminate or suspend your account (and any accounts Etsy determines are related to your account) and your access to the Services should we have reason to believe you, your Content, or your use of the Services violate our Terms.”

Site Management and Support 

To help users stay up to date with the routine work on your e-commerce website, it’s key to provide a Site Management and Support clause in your Terms and Conditions.

This section aims to inform users on how your service works but only to outline how you conduct systematic inspections or administration, in what cases users can be denied access to your site, or when your customer support is available.

Pricing and Payment Terms 

Pricing-related topics are often a cause for concern, making it essential to outline in detail all that users can expect in your Terms and Conditions.

This section is crucial for e-commerce websites as selling products is at the heart of business operations

In your Pricing and Payment Terms, describe your process of charging customers. Mention the payment methods you accept and provide other essential details on the process, like when the customer will be billed, what type of information they will receive after the payment and others. 

Here’s a short segment of ZARA’s Price and Payment clause:

The prices displayed on our website include VAT but exclude delivery costs, which will be added to the total amount due as set out in our Delivery


Costs Guide.


We reserve the right to decline orders for bulk or high-value purchases and to change price and availability information without notice. Other than as set in Clauses 11.1-11.2, changes will not affect orders in respect of which we have already sent an Order Confirmation.

Returns and Refund Policy 

As a significant topic in the e-commerce space, the Returns and Refund policy deserves a specific page that explains all relevant processes and regulations in detail. 

However, it’s beneficial for businesses to provide a link to this page in their Terms and Conditions, as most users browse for this information in the T&C agreement. 

It’s also valuable to provide a summary of the key points. Some e-commerce businesses also deliver this information through frequently asked questions, making it even easier for users to find what they’re looking for.

Shipping Policy 

A section of your Terms and Conditions that is very similar to the Returns and Refund policy is your Shipping policy.

Again, information on your delivery terms is usually provided on a separate page as extensive details need to be covered. 

However, it’s advisable to mention some of the most important aspects of this policy in your Terms and Conditions under the Shipping policy clause. 

Inform users about shipping partners you work with and how long they can expect to receive products after their purchase, and protect yourself against potential disputes regarding delivery times and procedures.

Privacy Policy 

In the Privacy Policy of your Terms and Conditions, describe how you collect, use, and disclose personal information on users. 

Outline the privacy rights that your business has and inform users of the laws that protect them as individuals. 

With rising concerns related to collecting data online, this section of your T&C is essential.

Privacy policy in terms and conditions

Limitation of Liabilities

For e-commerce websites, the Limitation of Liability is also a fundamental T&C clause that you must consider. 

This clause is also referred to as No Responsibility and aims to establish boundaries around what businesses can be held responsible for. 

Here’s an example of this clause as provided by eBay:

You agree that you are making use of our Services at your own risk and that they are being provided to you on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis. Accordingly, to the extent permitted by applicable law, we exclude all express or implied warranties, Terms and Conditions including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement.

Governing and Applicable Laws 

As an e-commerce website, your Terms and Conditions must also feature a section on applicable laws and governing laws.

In this section, you must outline the governing laws that shape the communication and contract between you as a business and the consumer as the user. 

In most cases, these laws will be national. All information provided in this clause is to be short and easy to understand.

Dispute Resolutions and Indemnification 

Though many businesses underestimate this clause, including a Dispute Resolutions and Indemnification section in your T&C agreement is recommended. 

This part of the document strives to explain the process of handling disputes

For example, you can state our right to rely on adequate legal counsel in specific situations where informal negotiations are inefficient. You can also include that if both parties cannot reach a conclusion, the conflict can be resolved by binding arbitration.

Corrections and Inaccuracies 

Regardless of how successful your business is, there are always risks of human error. You can add a Corrections and Inaccuracies clause to your Terms and Conditions page to avoid possible conflicts and disputes arising from such mistakes. 

This part of the document will keep you safe when users discover inconsistencies throughout your website’s pages and content. 

This clause also empowers you to make amendments to correct the provided data when necessary.

How do you write Terms and Conditions on your e-commerce website?

The clauses mentioned above are only some examples of the type of information you can include in your Terms and Conditions.

Considering the vast amount of essential data, we can conclude that creating a T&C agreement is a timely and resource-demanding task.

Luckily, today, there are different options that you can explore. For example, many businesses rely on a Terms and Conditions template that allows you to enjoy a pre-made outline. 

You can simply add extra clauses or personalise existing ones to make the document applicable to your business.

Alternatively, you can choose a managed solution or take the longest road – the do-it-yourself approach.

Tips for creating your Terms and Conditions

When creating your T&C agreement, we recommend using the following best practices:

  • Avoid using information directly copied from another website. This is considered plagiarism and is also perceived as duplicate content and can harm your search engine rankings.
  • Position your Terms and Conditions in a visible location on your website. Most websites use the footer or header of the site, but you can also share them with your users during account registrations, payment screens, and more. 
  • Always keep your Terms and Conditions up to date. Don’t forget to record any new changes or describe new policies for your users.

Conclusion

If you’re managing an e-commerce website, having detailed and up-to-date Terms and Conditions is only in your best interest. 

Enjoy peace of mind knowing that your business is protected and establish the foundations on which you will build customer relationships and communication in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, it’s not legally required. However, we recommend that you include Terms and Conditions on your website to avoid possible misunderstandings.

Although there are no legal obligations to include specific sections or claims in your Terms and Conditions, some of the recommended ones to feature include Intellectual Property, User Contribution, Third-party Clause, User Registration Clause, Acceptable Uses Clause, and more.

Most e-commerce websites position their Terms and Conditions document in the footer. However, there are written rules regarding the location of your T&C agreement.

Yes, both phrases “Terms and Conditions” and “Terms of Service” refer to the same agreement.

Other legal documents that you may be required to provide on your e-commerce website include a Privacy Policy, Copyright Notice, Disclaimer, Refund Policy, and Cookie Policy.

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