Your eCommerce Store

The power of an eCommerce store & the legal documents required to run yours

According to research by Euromonitor International, our online sales as a country will grow almost three times as fast as in-store sales over the period 2018–2023. 

Exacerbated by the global pandemic and closure of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it is safe to say that eCommerce in South Africa is on the up and that retailers need to be rethinking their digital strategies and attempting to stay relevant to demanding consumers.

If you have the privilege of being in the business of selling goods and services that can be offered online, it is advisable that you set up a webshop sooner rather than later. 

We know from other developing economies, such as China and India, that once momentum begins and consumers get a taste for online shopping, eCommerce sales rise at an accelerating rate. Brick-and-mortar retail stores that were not ready and did not invest in their online future when the exponential growth hit, were generally unable to keep up in the novel digital market.

So, investing in eCommerce sooner rather than later is important if you have the products and means to do so. 

You may have heard, however, that starting a webshop in South Africa is easy and all you have to worry about is logistics, website development and getting a payment gateway setup. While this is somewhat true, it is very important that you do not neglect the legal aspects of setting up your webshop and mitigate your legal risk wherever possible. 

As you do with any physical retail store, you need to have legal documents and policies in place to protect your eCommerce business and ensure that consumers are aware of your business’s terms and your conditions.

Here are the legal documents that are essential when setting up your web shop:

  1. Terms and Conditions;

  2. Cookie Statement;

  3. Warranty Statement;

  4. Returns Policy; and

  5. Delivery Policy. 

  1. # Terms and Conditions

What is?

You need a document that sets out the terms and conditions of your web shop. Your basic Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) should be one of the first legal documents you have in place when you start your web shop. 

Terms and Conditions are not mandatory by law; however, it is strongly recommended that have them in place whether you have a website or an App. It’s a simple document that benefits your business tremendously.  

It usually outlines how your web shop is intended to be used and explains the rights you have to all your published content. 

T&Cs are valuable because they provide legal inevitability and build trust between you and your clients. 

They also allow you to use payment gateways with credit card operators. It is extremely important for your customers and clients to know how to use your web shop and also what is accepted and not acceptable in the use of your webshop. 

If you would like to learn more about eCommerce Terms and Conditions, we have written a complete guide which can be found here {insent final link}.


  1. # Privacy policy

What is?

Unlike the Ts & Cs, you can’t avoid a privacy policy for as long as you collect personal information from your customers and clients. A privacy policy applies to a web shop operator and its users. It determines how you will use, collect, keep, share, and protect the data that the user shares with the website/App.

Because a privacy policy is required by law, it means you will need to be compliant with the regulations in the countries in which your customers and clients reside. If your clients and customers are from South Africa, it is important that you privacy policy is compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act. 

One of the benefits of having a privacy policy in place is that your customers and clients feel secure. If your business has a good privacy policy, customers and clients are provided with a clear picture of how their data is processed. This will keep them feeling assured and build a level of trust that is crucial to the development of your web shop. This is especially important in this data theft age we live in. 

For more information on privacy policies click here(insert link to other blog)


  1. # Cookie Statement

What is?

Most web shops are required to ask for permission to place cookies on your device, and in return users can choose whether or not to give it.

Cookies appear on your browser in the form of small text files, kept in a data folder. Cookies are used to:

  • Retain login details and remember users’ custom preferences

  • Enable users to use a shopping cart or make use of e-billing services.

  • Recognise and count the number of visitors.

  • Recognise users when they return to the Site.

Web shops using a cookie policy attract a greater number of users. Many users have said it improves their shopping experience. Having a cookie policy is simple but it has many positive impacts on the customer journey on your web shop. 


  1. # Warranty Statement

What is?

A warranty is a form of product insurance, through which a certain guarantee (with specific terms) is given to your customers in written form.

This policy outlines any default warranties that are included in the sale of your products, as well as any particular terms relating to warranties that your customers can purchase.

This policy is important because customers want to be sure that the products they are buying are of the good quality and are fit for the intended purpose. It also helps protect you in certain instances where your business clearly provides that there are no warrants on certain things such as a product bought from a third party. 

Setting up these documents will not take too much from you but will instead benefit you and your business. It’ll save you time and money to just have these documents. 

These essential legal documents should be drafted properly in order to ensure they are most effective.


  1. # Delivery & Returns Policy

What is?

It is normal for people to want to return items. Sometimes your customers will want to return items for a valid reason and sometimes no reason at all. Other customers will return items in bad conditions. 

This is why it is important to have a Returns Policy in place. A Returns Policy provides for how your shop deals with returns; what you will accept and what you will not accept, when and how. 

It is common that when customers are shopping and they are not sure about the size, quality or any aspect of the product, they want to know if they can return the item should it not be what they are looking for. This influences whether a customer will be or not. 

You need to ensure that your policy is as clear and detailed as possible and is also fair to your customers. 


What is?

eCommerce Website Delivery Policy includes:

  • Estimated Delivery time frames;

  • Indemnities if you do not meet delivery time frames;

  • The method chosen for delivery;

  • Whether a recipient is required to sign for receipt;

  • Circumstances if no recipient is available for delivery;

  • Recipients requirement to inspect the delivery before acceptance;

  • Specification of delivery areas;

  • How delivery fees are calculated; and

  • Whether and in what circumstances free delivery is permitted.


Your next steps


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With the implementation of lockdowns as a means to try and curb the spread of COVID-19 having everyone stuck at home, it is almost an unspoken rule that you need a webshop to sell your products. 

If you have the privilege of being in the business of selling goods and services that can be offered online, it is advisable that you set up a webshop sooner rather than later.

{inserts a picture about people stuck at home on lockdown but needing something}

You may have heard that starting a web shop is easy and all you have to worry about is the logistics and getting a payment gateway. While that is true, it is also important that you do not neglect the legal aspects of setting up your web shop. 

You need to protect your business legally when setting up your ecommerce store.