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01 February 2021

Quickly adapt with an e-commerce presence and digital business models

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many businesses to sell their goods and services online. Limitations on the number of people who can enter a store or restaurant have made e-commerce solutions necessary even for companies that have never used this channel before.

In any case, online shopping is becoming more and more popular among Europeans of all age groups. The number of online shoppers will continue to rise even once the threat of COVID-19 has passed. Businesses must adapt to keep pace with international competition.

Correct implementation of an e-commerce presence

Since the EU Commission has prioritised strengthening consumer rights and consumer protection associations are taking stricter measures against non-compliant companies, the legally correct implementation of an e-commerce presence is complex.

It's more than just well-crafted terms and conditions and a snazzy appearance. The legal requirements extend deep into the visual design of the e-commerce offering and its processes. Providers of e-commerce solutions must give customers comprehensive and complete information. But implementing all this information can be challenging.

Once the first hurdle has been overcome and an e-commerce offering has been implemented in accordance with consumer protection laws, there will be major advantages:

  • The risk of costly legal proceedings and damage to the company's reputation can be avoided.
  • Implementing all laws with all the information a consumer is usually looking for (such as the return policy) will be definitely appreciated by consumers. A correctly implemented e-commerce offering will increase profitability. This will lead to economic growth in the long run.
  • Consumers nowadays are increasingly well-informed about their rights. Depriving consumers of their rights is short-sighted. Having a clear and fair set of rules in dealing with consumers will cause fewer headaches.
  • An e-commerce offering is a lifeline during the pandemic.

When setting up a new (digital) business model, the legal challenges can best be tackled (and legal spending can be kept low) by following these steps:

  1. The new business model should first be discussed with a lawyer in order to identify all challenges, hurdles and requirements as early as possible. Initially this can be done at a high-level only, to avoid incurring legal fees on business models that cannot be implemented lawfully.
  2. After the requirements for the business model have been worked out, a provider of digital business models should be contracted. To save time and costs, the provider can be informed about the previously developed requirements right from the start.
  3. While the provider takes care of the technical implementation, the legal aspects and documentation necessary for the business model can be worked out in parallel with a lawyer. An agile approach covering business, technical and legal matters is advisable.

While the legally correct setup of an e-commerce offering is tricky, it is the foundation on which economic success can be built. To save costs and time, business should check and know the legal requirements before embarking on the technical design of the e-commerce offering.

authors: Wolfgang Tichy, Serap Aydin


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