Guidelines for a starting e-commerce business
E-commerce is a way of trading where an entrepreneur provides products or services in an electronic environment, and the contracts between the supplier and the customer are also concluded electronically without them being physically at the same place.
Each starting e-shop must meet the following requirements:
- An entrepreneur must disclose truthful information to the customer, such as the company name, location, e-mail address, and telephone number, which the customers can contact in case of problems.
- The purchasing process must be clearly described to the customer and the sale conditions must be easily visible for the customer in the e-shop.
- An e-commerce business must immediately confirm a received order (an automatically transferred order confirmation, invoice, or another document).
- An e-commerce business must inform the customer about the price of the product as well as the unit price. Price of the product is the final price paid for a unit or amount of the product. Unit price is the final price of one kilogram, one litre, one metre, one square metre, or one cubic metre paid for the product.
- Detailed information about the products must be provided about the products in Estonian. If a consumer makes a wrong choice due to a lack of information, they have the right to withdraw from the contract and require the entrepreneur to compensate their losses.
- The consumer must be provided with the total price of the product with the taxes and all additional freight, postage, delivery, or any other costs if the customer must bear these costs (postage cost must be presented no later than in the shopping cart if the amount of the fee depends on the size of the order; otherwise, the prices must be presented before).
- It must be understandable for the customer how the payment, delivery, and order execution arrangements are organised, and when the delivery is executed, the service is provided, or another execution is made (time for paying the invoice, delivery period, time for the execution of the contract in the case of a contract).
- If there is a right of withdrawal, the conditions for its use, its deadline, and procedure must be presented in addition to the standard form for the withdrawal in accordance with the Regulation of the Minister of Justice.
- Information on who will bear the cost of returning the product if the consumer withdraws from the contract. The consumer is only obligated to pay for the costs related to returning the product if the entrepreneur has informed the client of it before the contract was concluded. If the entrepreneur does not inform the consumer of it before concluding the contract, the entrepreneur must bear the costs themselves.
- If the consumer withdraws from the contract and bears the cost for the returning, the e-commerce business must return the cost of the delivery of the product, which was paid in the order (if it was added to the order). If the consumer does not withdraw from the order in full, the postage charge paid in the order must be returned in proportion to the number of products in the order. For example, if there are two products in an order and the delivery costs 2.50 euros, the delivery cost that will be returned for one product will be 1.25 euros.
- If the e-commerce business provides an additional sales guarantee (for example, the manufacturer’s guarantee) in addition to the statutory remedies, its existence and terms must be described.
- Information must be provided to the consumer about the right, deadline, and procedure of a complaint.
- The procedure implemented at the company for resolving complaints must be described (for example, contact details and office hours or an e-mail address of the employee responsible for resolving complaints).
- The conditions of a contract must include information about the purposes of processing personal data, the composition of the personal data processed, the procedure and manner of processing the personal data and forwarding it to third parties.
- An e-commerce business is obligated to inform consumers about the possibility to settle disputes outside out of court. In Estonia, the body that settles disputes outside the court is the Consumer Disputes Committee that operates at the Consumer Protection Board. The Consumer Disputes Committee settles the disputes arising from a contract concluded between a consumer and an entrepreneur if the worth of the disputed product or service is 30 or more euros. The parties do not have to pay for the revision of the complaint to the Committee.
- The consumer may also contact the European Consumer Centre.
- If an entrepreneur is the importer of products or packs the consumer’s product in plastic, cardboard, or any other package, they must join a recycling organisation, and provide and pay for reports of packaging.
- Agreements that derogate from the law to the detriment of the consumer are forbidden and void.
In Estonia, a trust mark Safe Shopping Place is used and it can be applied for by e-shops that belong to the E-Commerce Association. An e-shop applying for the trust mark must have operated for at least one year and meet the requirements of the mark. Buying from e-shops with a trust mark is safe for the consumer because the sale conditions of the e-shop meet the legal requirements, and the Association is constantly monitoring their operation.