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Creating a Privacy Policy for Your Ecommerce Store

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03/03/2022 | Share:

If you’re selling services or products through your ecommerce store, then you must have an accessible privacy policy. A privacy policy can be a pretty complex thing to craft; it is a legal requirement and legally binding document, so to protect yourself and your customers, it must be right. However, many ecommerce owners are unsure where to start with this.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about creating a privacy policy for your ecommerce store.

Some things may seem very straightforward, such as the things to include. But, some things may come as a surprise, such as the fact the policy needs to be written specifically for the rules and regulations in force everywhere your consumers reside – regardless of where your business is physically located.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy outlines the methods your site uses for collecting, storing, using, and sharing your consumers’ personal information. This information can be collected organically through check-out pages, opt-in forms, or surveys. It can also be gathered digitally by monitoring a consumer’s time spent on a page, their browser clicks, or interaction with adverts.

It will depend on the nature of your ecommerce store as to what information the site collects from its visitors. Generally, it will be any or even all of the following types of protected private information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Home address
  • Email address
  • Contact numbers
  • Current employment
  • Employment history
  • Credit card information
  • Social media accounts
  • Website cookies

Visitors must be given the option to provide or refuse information such as this (any type of personally identifiable information) and the choice to change their minds in the future.

What Should a Privacy Policy for Ecommerce Stores Include?

A privacy policy needs to be written plainly enough so that all consumers understand it yet be fully comprehensive to limit your liability and ensure compliance with various rules and regulations (if you ship products, or conduct services, out of your local area).

At the very least, your ecommerce privacy policy must disclose:

  • Your name (or business name), location, and contact information
  • The personal information of visitors collected in any way through your site
  • The purpose for collecting this information
  • How you’re keeping the information safe
  • Any personal information you may collect from your consumers going forward
  • The methods you’re using currently to handle customers’ personal data
  • Any possible reason why you may use this data in the future
  • How third parties (such as Google Analytics) may be collecting and managing this data

Good policies will also outline the differences between direct and indirect data taken.

How to Create Your Privacy Policy

As an ecommerce owner knows, there are generally two ways to do things – go it alone, or hire an expert. Both methods have their own advantages and drawbacks.

Hired Help

If you have the budget to allow for an expert’s help to help you draw up a privacy policy, this is a sure-fire way of ensuring legal compliance and strong protection for your business. A lawyer should have the experience to help with international data protection laws to ensure your policy is updated with all requirements.

Going it Alone

There are lots of privacy policy generators online that you can use free of charge. However, it can be challenging to know how legally accurate this will be for your specific business. Online generators have the advantage of personalising your policy to suit your company, but there may be an expensive question mark over the policy being legally verifiable.

Another DIY option is to look at privacy policy templates or craft your own entirely. Time-consuming definitely, but a worthwhile venture to explore when budget is restricted.

One thing you must avoid doing is copying a privacy policy from another website, and this is also why a generator can be a tricky thing, as it needs to be specific information related to your ecommerce business and aligned with your domain.

Once you have created your privacy policy, the next step is where to place it on your website. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that your website has an independent page for its privacy policy.

If you’re outside the EU, you may choose to have it included in another page – such as the ‘About Us,’ Terms & Conditions, or FAQs. It could also be hosted by a privacy policy service with a link from your homepage. Outside of the EU, the location of the privacy policy is much less important than its contents; as long as visitors have access to it, this is sufficient.

Why Your Ecommerce Store Needs a Privacy Policy

As a vital part of your site’s legal framework, a privacy policy must be made a top priority.

Your privacy policy needs to be an easily accessible, transparent, and compliant policy. It is a necessity to protect your ecommerce business in terms of addressing any potential lawsuits or misunderstandings. In addition, this policy will act as a means of being credible and transparent – keeping your business accountable for the sensitive, personal data you collect.

The Bottom Line

A privacy policy is vital for your ecommerce store. You can create one alone, with online help such as a privacy policy generator or template, or you can hire the help of a legal expert. Your policy must be completely transparent to protect you and your customers.

It is so important to know the privacy laws that will affect your ecommerce store, and more than this, how they differ depending on the location. Most countries have privacy legislation that necessitates a business to have a solid privacy policy in place – but some are stricter than others.

While rules, regulations, and laws do differ, one thing will remain the same – if you run a website that retails in different locations, your privacy policy must adhere to all the laws in all the locations, and this can be challenging.

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