What are the legal requirements for selling handicrafts online?
Let’s refresh some content from my blog. Today I am coming back with the topic that was the first I touched upon as soon as I opened our group in July last year, what legal aspects should be taken into account when selling products online, but also in direct contact with customers.
Why did I start with this topic? I am observing the market for a long time, I noticed, especially when it comes to the so-called Sales by Facebook, that few people even have their own policies. I am crazy about the legal aspects and cannot imagine acting in fact illegally. The worst part is that many people are unaware that they need terms! Because, after all, others do not have it either, or who will check it… But remember that if you act without basic legal requirements, you take actually a risk. Everything is great until one moment. Until you come across an aware customer or jealous competition will simply undermine you. Unfortunately, such situations also happen and I read enough of stories on the groups…
Listen to “Aspekty prawne działalności. Jak stworzyć dobry regulamin? [ HANDIEU PRO ]” on Spreaker.
I don’t want to scare you with this topic, don’t worry but I would like show you it from a another angle.
But first let me remind you that my summary is not legal advice, I am not a lawyer myself. Therefore, I suggest you take a closer look at the requirements of your country and the countries to which you send your products, or invest in reliable legal assistance.
First of all, I would like to show the regulations from a different angle. Not as this painful duty, but as something that also protects you!
Now imagine such a situation. A customer tells us that he wants to buy something. You get along, he choses colors, he has committed himself to send the payment, but his under big time pressure, so you go to the store, buy materials and start preparing the product. After two days, you check your bank account and the money is still not there. So you speak culturally to the customer whether he has already sent the payment. It turns out that he forgot to tell you, but he will not buy from you because he found something else. And you’re left with the cost of materials that, at best, make a product for someone else, but still …
A different situation, rarer, but it also happens, because I saw descriptions of events in the groups, that you agree to the payment after the client receives the package. The client may have been referring to these Internet sites that he wants to make sure that the package arrives first, that he is not paying the fraudster etc. So to prove your credibility, you agree to these terms. Then it turns out that the customer has received the package but has not paid for it. Even worse, it has collapsed into the ground. And maybe you could somehow claim your rights even in court with his address, but well – as a seller you didn’t even have the terms! And who would go to court for such a small amount…
What are the conclusions?
First of all, prove your credibility by creating policies for shopping in your store – regardless of whether you have your own website or you operate on Facebook – you are selling to customers! The policies increase your credibility, show your professionalism, but also protect you! Regulations are such a contract between you and the client, it is binding on both parties.
I hope that it is now clear that it is not only necessary, but also worth creating terms. So how do you approach this topic?
First, because you sell to consumers, there are some rules in place to protect your rights as a consumer. I suggest you read them to know which clauses are allowed and which are even prohibited. And this will also be useful for your everyday online purchases, because after all, each of us is also a consumer!
The policies must contain clearly defined elements, such as product properties, terms of the transaction itself, through which payment methods you can make a purchase, but also when and how you can cancel, complain or return the product! Next, how the shipment will be carried out and what is the date of delivery of the product from the moment of placing an order.
So let’s briefly discuss each of these points:
First, the product description. The product must be described so that the customer knows its purpose, what it is made of, whether it is suitable for use by children, how to maintain and use it, what dimensions and weight it has, but also how long it takes to create it, so basically when he can expect that it will be ready for shipment.
I am talking about this because the product description is neglected. After all, these are obvious things, or you can see in the photo what it is for. Unfortunately, not everyone knows, and there are people who are aware of the law, even taking advantage of the fact that you do not include something and you may have problems, unfortunately. On the other hand, it is not stupid to write about these “obvious things”. It also works to your advantage. There are people who do not necessarily know something. They even like something at first glance, but find that they don’t even know what to use it for. Rather, they won’t ask because they don’t want to sound stupid. However, if we give them these answers on a tray, it is possible that we will convince them, and we will also show our professionalism again.
The second issue is the transaction and when the contract is binding. The customer must know what types of payments you accept and when the time for the execution and delivery of the order counts.
Cancellations, returns and complaints
Further cancellations, complaints and returns. Three similar and often confused concepts, which should be treated separately, therefore I will explain the differences between them.
The order is canceled when the customer has already placed the order, maybe even made the payment, but changed his mind before receiving the product. The complaint relates to a situation where the product was delivered damaged or not as described. However, in the case of a return, the customer, in some cases, does not even have to provide a reason and can send back the product already received.
As a rule, when it comes to products “available on the spot”, the customer has the right to all of them, as well as to return the goods within 14 to 30 days depending on the country of origin of the consumer, to cancellation and complaint. However, if the product is made on order, in accordance with the law, you can also reserve the possibility of decline cancellation and returns. Complaints can still be used by the customer. I am also saying that, because despite the fact that it results from the law, unfortunately people are not aware of it, sometimes they assume that all products are entitled to 14 days for a return, so I think that it is worth to emphasize on your policies. You can even refer to specific regulations to add a few points to professionalism 😊
So how do I put my terms and policies all together for my handmade business?
Personally, I think that having such an adventage as a very personal brand, I would write in the terms, why there is this or another rule, in a normal human way. I have seen many times this dry “we do not accept phrases” and it seems to me that you can try harder to make the language friendly to people. This is also described in the acts of law – the policies should be legible and understandable for the consumer. They don’t need to be written in a high legal language. You can write for example that in case of the purchase of a custom-made order, you buy materials and create something unique, which also results from such and such regulations, and so you do not accept returns. It is a clear explanation and nobody will feel bad about it.
When it comes to cancellations or changes to the order, I believe that you can go ahead customer’s expectations a bit and give him e.g. 24 hours, taking into account that after this time you order your own materials. The cases are different. It may turn out that the customer has mistaken the colors and would prefer a different one. This way you are more flexible. Of course, I believe that if he writes, you would not probably make him any problems, but what if you order materials quickly. Sometimes it is better not too rush too much 😊
And what are the non-obligatory points of the regulations or your content that are also worth taking into account?
Up-sales and Cross-sales
When describing the product itself, it is worth suggesting products that may be of interest to the customer, because they are either products that match the set or other “more expensive” substitutes. These are the so-called up- and cross-sales. Since the customer is already watching our one product, it is possible that he will be tempted to increase his order in this way.
Another issue is the guarantees. In addition to the possibility of returning, you can also add your product warranties. In this way, guarantees differ from complaints or returns, which are regulated to a certain extent, that they are not an obligation but a good will of the manufacturer. However, we should remember to clearly define what the guarantee concerns and how to apply for its recognition.
FAQs – the Frequently Asked Questions
Importantly, and unfortunately many people do not use it, these are the most frequently asked questions. I have heard many times how difficult it is to answer the same questions on Messenger to every customer … How annoying they are … Well, it is rather a signal to us that something on our website is not legible and requires clarification. Or that Facebook may not be the best place to sell and it is worth investing in, for example, your own website or at the beginning connect to a platform and have everything in black and white there.
How else can you benefit?
Both frequently asked questions and brief answers are great SEO tools. As I mentioned before, writing full questions and then answering them is very much appreciated by search engines. Why am I talking about a search engine? Because it may turn out that you have a similar product to the competition, but the client did not find the answer on their website, e.g. regarding specifications, maintenance methods, etc. (after all, you know how many people do not have it prepared, and you can be ahead now! ). And then the potential customer will look for answers on the Internet, he will accidentally come across you and maybe he will decide on your product? … Think about it!
And what, apart from the regulations, should be taken into account?
First of all, when starting a profit-making activity, you should check in what form we can conduct it, what are the limits, e.g. on unregistered or spontaneous sales, and how to set up a business, what formalities should be followed. In the case of sale via foreign platforms, there is also the issue of obtaining an EU-VAT number, which is such an international taxpayer number. We may be exempt from paying VAT, but we will still need it to settle accounts with foreign entities. Certainly if we run a company.
Secondly, when choosing the name of our brand and the area of our activity, we should check whether we are not infringing anyone’s rights. It may turn out that someone has registered such a brand or with a very similar name and we may have trouble later. And the same is true, maybe it is worth thinking about registering our trademark or patenting some products? It depends of course on the type of handicraft, so I recommend checking if you can, what are the costs and, for example, planning registration as our brand grows. As you may know, I also registered the HANDIEU brand, it took almost half a year, but it gives me a sense of security that now nobody will be able to use my name.
When creating your products, make sure you do not violate other licenses, e.g. by selling something with Mikey Mouse, because I assume that you did not buy a license from Disney … It is quite risky, because if you still post such products on Facebook, on various side, it is very easy to prove. In addition, most of you operate under your own name, which means that you are liable with all your assets for any violations of the law in the course of the business. This is one of the astonishing risk assessment issues that I have noticed in this market and I will be discussing in my webinar on risks, but also the subject of intellectual property itself will be introduced to you by my friend who is a lawyer specializing in this area.
When you send products to to other countries there can be some regulations regarding waste management. You may need to register your package and pay the appropriate tax or fee.
I hope that this view of the legal aspects will also help you figure out some things in your head, but you will also look for support on specific topics, having a certain idea of what to pay attention to.
Have a nice day and see you soon!
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