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Ecomm Admins: Make Your Site Lock-Tight for Legal Risk

teams working together on legal requirements for an ecommerce site

When a customer visits your ecommerce site—whether they’re directed there by an ad, search it out on their own, or are following up on an in-store experience—there are a lot of legal implications, regardless of whether they click “checkout” and make a purchase.

It’s no secret that ecommerce is booming. According to studies, the U.S. ecommerce industry was expected to reach nearly $470 billion in 2021, an increase from $431.6 billion in 2020 (Forbes). As a result of this growth, the role of storefront engineers and systems admins have never been more important for maintaining legal compliance and providing a great customer experience for visitors and buyers alike. In their roles, storefront engineers and admins vet and implement the right solutions for business stakeholders across the company—from payments to inventory management, storefronts, and legal software.

There’s a technological option for almost everything ecommerce businesses need—and thankfully, many of those tools connect to one another, creating a rich ecosystem of data and ease of management. In fact, when considering a new tool, integrations are often one of the first considerations: Will it connect to other tools your team already uses? And with exciting technological advances in virtual experiences, like augmented reality try-ons, more and more new and exciting ecommerce experiences are possible, creating many options for ecommerce storefront engineers and system admins to choose from.

The need for a worry-free legal solution

But when it comes to legal requirements, implementing technology can often go overlooked—it’s more than just ecommerce, though. In fact, online marketplaces accounted for up to 5% of litigation in 2021.

Despite the amount of litigation in ecommerce, Legal’s requirements are often overlooked, and historically, addressing their pains has lagged. What’s more, with quickly evolving regulatory requirements, Legal’s needs change rapidly—and, as a result, they see more litigation. Studies show that 13% of all clickwrap litigation is in ecommerce. 

But implementing a Legal tool that is easy to manage technically, meets Legal’s requirements, and enhances the customer experience can be hard to balance — unless you have the right solution. In fact, future-proofing your legal tech will reduce the risk for your ecommerce store and allow you to experiment with advances in technology in a less risky way.

But what about all of the tech requests from Legal? Won’t they clog your ticketing queue? Not with technology that empowers your Legal team to become more self-sufficient. Sometimes, as a system admin, supporting Legal’s requirements can feel like it’s slowing down your processes—which isn’t sustainable for a growing business. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the case with a tool that suits Legal’s needs and empowers them to handle issues on their own.

Finally, there’s the question of maintenance—which is always in the back of any storefront engineer or system admin’s mind. Any solution implemented to solve your legal headaches will require some maintenance, so choosing one that needs minimal upkeep and can empower legal, system admins, and other teams is critical. After all, your job isn’t to build and maintain a legal system, it’s to focus your (and your team’s) efforts on your core competencies.

Legal-proofing your ecommerce site

When it comes to making your ecommerce site lock-tight for legal risk, there are a number of areas to consider:

Cookie Consent

Perhaps the most visible (and least overlooked) legal interaction consumers have when visiting websites these days is the cookie consent pop-up. Making sure customers consent to cookies in a way that isn’t too intrusive while meeting legal requirements will limit your risk without impacting conversion or the customer experience.

Legal terms management

This is content management for your legal team, which spends a lot of time and energy managing and updating the legal terms for shopping on your site, like privacy policies and terms and conditions. Every ecommerce site or app must have documented terms and conditions in order to legally sell online—they act as an agreement and code of conduct for customers, as well as a form of legal protection for your company in the case of a dispute. Disputes which, according to studies, happen a lot: the most commonly litigated terms are website terms of service, which account for a combined 59% of all online marketplace litigation.  Terms can vary by region or product and, as a result, have more restrictive versioning requirements than most content management systems were designed to handle.

“But managing legal content in platforms, such as Contentful, is not simple or sustainable. Plus, versioning of legal content operates differently than the versioning of web content which can cause compliance issues,” explains an industry expert. The easiest way to simplify legal terms management is to implement a solution on your site or app that is managed by Legal (or other stakeholders) without the hassle of backend content editors. After all, as a system admin, your goal is to simplify the creation and management of your online disclosure and terms for Legal—empowering them with the tools to do so without bogging down other teams or resources, like web developers or content admins.

Contract acceptance

When a consumer clicks “buy now,” often in a , they set off a chain reaction of tasks that will fulfill their order. However, they’re typically agreeing to more than just buying a product—they should also be accepting the legal terms that are relevant to their region. But, this means more than a checkbox or statement that they “agree to the terms” —the terms must be appropriate to the customer and their location or purchase, clearly presented and agreed to, and fit into the customer flow seamlessly. It’s up to engineering teams to connect the dots between the correct legal terms and conditions (including the appropriate version) and where customers can agree to them in their checkout or registration workflow. The contract acceptance collection point can exist in a multitude of locations across ecommerce sites on the web, mobile, or an app.

Scope, implement, and see results

To make sure your ecommerce site is legally sound and meets Legal’s requirements, it’s key that you scope requirements and implement a system intentionally—and then enjoy the results. First, start by scoping and understanding what your legal or compliance team needs. Ask questions like:

  • What are they concerned about?
  • Where does risk exist in your online transactions?
  • Where are the bottlenecks in their processes?

Then, consider other tools you—and your legal team—already use. Understanding the existing landscape can help you find the best solution that will fit in with your business. Consider:

  • What integration capabilities do you need to connect tools together?
  • How can they integrate with your site, app, or product offering seamlessly?
  • Do you want to build or buy your technology?

Think about available engineering resources and which out-of-the-box solutions meet your criteria. Any time you can lean on a tool that limits engineering investment, it will save your team time and money. Once you’ve decided, clearly scope the implementation and make plans for maintenance. Think about:

  • Who is responsible for onboarding the team?
  • Who will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the tool?

Making a plan for rolling out a new tool and its ongoing maintenance is critical so that once in motion, workflows aren’t slowed down.

Choosing a platform such as Ironclad Clickwrap to future-proof your ecommerce site protects you, your customers, and provides a seamless experience for everyone involved, from your system admins to your customers (and your Legal team). By relying on a solution that empowers Legal without creating any technical heavy lifting, you eliminate any iterative, unplanned legal auditing and remove Legal tickets from your queue. As a result, you’ll dramatically reduce the amount of time and resources dedicated to meeting your Legal team’s needs without compromising security. Most importantly, you’ll deliver a great customer experience without compromising on anyone’s security—a win for everyone.

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