Keep up with customers' changing habits

Together we are Forbes

Article

19 January, 2021

Many high streets and city centres were struggling under the weight of customers' shift towards online shopping even before the pandemic hit. However, by virtue of forced closures, social distancing restrictions, potential customers working from home rather than in offices near physical stores and a general reluctance to be out in public places by some, there is no denying that the pandemic has accelerated the online shopping movement, and there is no sign of it slowing down.

The spring months saw an influx of retailers open online stores for the first time, acknowledging that whilst their bricks and mortar shops remained closed, business strategies needed to change to ensure that sales were made. The second and third lockdowns have seen retailers become even more creative, for example by offering click and collect services. Whilst such innovation and accomplishments by business owners is commendable, retailers are advised to be careful to ensure that appropriate terms and conditions are in place, taking into account the varying ways in which transactions are done with consumers now.

Any retailer who trades online should have a set of comprehensive terms and conditions governing, amongst other things:

  • The procedure and pricing for shipping goods;
  • The liability of the retailer and any third party courier in the event of any issues arising regarding shipping;
  • The retailer's policy in respect of returns, refunds and exchanges, noting always that consumers have existing statutory consumer rights;
  • A dispute resolution procedure in the event of a dispute arising between the retailer and consumer;
  • The protection of the intellectual property relating to a retailer's goods and brand, where necessary;
  • A consumer's rights to cancel an order;
  • The limitation of a retailer's liability; and
  • How the retailer will use a consumer's personal details in accordance with data protection legislation.

One size does not fit all for terms and conditions, and with an ever-evolving world, and consequently an ever-evolving retail sector, retailers of all sizes are advised to ensure terms and conditions are tailored to account for such changes and minimise risks in their specific business. Ultimately, bespoke written terms and conditions: reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising due to the certainty of terms; limit the liability of retailers; outline procedures to follow in the event of any dispute or dissatisfaction by either party; protect existing consumer rights; and ensure compliance with relevant legislation and regulations.

We are aware that retailers have enough on their plates at the moment, so contact John Pickervance, specialist Commercial lawyer in our Retail sector and Head of Commercial to ensure terms and conditions for your business are appropriately drafted to protect your position by email or phone.

For more information contact John Pickervance in our Retail department via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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