Selling products online seems like an easy way to make money. While online retailers do have fewer rules and restrictions than brick-and-mortar shopkeepers have, there are still plenty of laws that are important to know. Having a good understanding of laws and regulations can help you avoid costly mistakes. Here are 3 laws you need to know as an online retailer.
Shipping regulations can affect your business
Online retailers rely on shipping companies to deliver their products and those shipping companies have their own laws and regulations to follow. These rules involve items that they cannot ship. Most shipping companies have the same restrictions, but not all of them publish their restrictions in obvious locations. If you must ship restricted items, you will most likely have to pay extra for the services. Usually, government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission place restrictions on items like these: aerosols, alcoholic beverages, ammunition, cigarettes, explosives, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, live animals, nail polish and perfumes, perishable items and hazardous items, and poisons.
Digital payment compliance rules
As an online business, you will have to accept payment through secure, digital payment services. Unfortunately, there are people who will do their best to try to steal data from you and from your customers. So, as an online retailer, you will need to have something called PCI compliance. This means you will use a provider that has follows the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and will not save or steal purchasing information. An e-commerce provider will encrypt financial data so that you and the credit card processing company cannot save it and criminals cannot intercept it.
Do you need a license?
If you need a license to do business in your state, then you need to get one. But, how do you find out if you need one? The best way to know is to ask an expert - usually an attorney who specializes in business in your state. But, if you have an online business that will deliver goods across state lines, then you might have to have several business licenses. Again, an attorney should be able to help you. To get business licenses, you will need to fill out forms and pay fees. You might have to renew your license annually or on a different schedule. To avoid paying excessive fines, be sure to learn what you need to know about business licenses in your state. Government agencies will not accept ignorance as an excuse for not having proper licenses. What rules and regulations caught you off guard when you opened your online business? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you need any more help make sure you check out our blog for more tips, ideas, and inspiration!