On any eCommerce site, users need to either login or input personal information at some point in their business transaction. This information differs depending on the kind of eCommerce business you manage, but it commonly includes:
- Name and address
- Gender and date of birth
- Email address and phone number
- Employment and education history
- Credit card payment information
- Social media accounts and other contact details
Today, customers know how vital online protection has become when offering this user data. Therefore, they want assurance that your site knows how to handle their information safely. Not only do they want to know that you will use and store their data safely, but they also need to see in writing how your eCommerce site handles online functionality.
For example, customers may be nervous about allowing cookies on your site. However, cookies enable shopping cart applications and customer orders. They improve the customer experience using online analytics. Privacy policies communicate this information so that your eCommerce site can establish transparency with your customers.
In many cases, these policies are required by privacy protection laws as well.
To figure out which laws your site needs to uphold, you need to know where your customers live and the jurisdictions your site must comply with based on those locations. Thankfully, most laws, such as CalOPPA’s requirements for eCommerce businesses in California, are similar.
While legal jurisdiction may make privacy policies sound complicated, the information included in them can be simple and straightforward. In fact, this is the best way to use your policy to simultaneously cover your eCommerce business against legal repercussions and reassure your customers.
First, skip the legal and technical language that could confuse customers and write plain text in a format that’s easy to read. Separate it into sections that cater to customers’ main concerns. For instance, include sections for information disclosure and online tracking protocols. State in plain terms how your customers’ data is collected and what it’s used for.
Customers will be concerned with giving out their personal and payment information, especially when it seems like more information than they “need” to give. If your site asks for more basic information than just a credit card number, explain what that information is used for as part of the basic functions of your site. If you share customer information with other parties, link to their privacy policies in yours. This creates a network of transparency that’s even more reassuring for your customers.
If customers have choices on your site regarding how much information they give out and who has access to it, state these choices. Tell them the extent to which they can refuse to offer identifying information and how this changes the services they can use on your site.
The Takeaway for Ecommerce Sites