Have you ever been burned online?
The feeling of being swindled fills you with a raging frustration.
Maybe a parcel has conveniently gone missing in transit.
The supposedly trustworthy business you’ve purchased from receives your cash and then abruptly disappears.
Worse still, you might open your credit card statement to a nasty surprise.
You immediately face that sinking feeling when you realise the contact number is inactive and the customer support email address bounces back.
It’s the dark, frustrating side of internet shopping we all hope will never happen to us…
Sadly it’s happening more than ever.
According to this Nilson Report into online fraud, there has been more ecommerce fraud every year since 1993. Staggeringly, 2015 was the fourth year in a row where losses to card fraud outpaced growth in total card volume.
Ethical ecommerce business owners are left to deal with the ramifications of the behaviour of these few bad eggs. The uncertainty and fear created by payment fraud makes conversion so much harder – particularly for brands with a risk-averse target audience reluctant to give over their personal details to an online retailer.
Thankfully, the Aussie government is one of the most proactive legislators in the world of ecommerce fraud.
There are various laws and restrictions in place to protect all parties of the online shopping experience from poor shopping experiences, and those businesses found to be noncompliant face very serious consequences.
If you’re running an online store or a website with any form of online transaction – you need to understand and continually monitor ecommerce laws and shipping regulations to make sure you keep the trust of your customers, and prevent your business from copping a hefty fine (or worse).
Before we explain the laws and regulations you need to consider, you need to know what you’re up against…
The 5 Most Common Types Of Ecommerce Fraud
- PhishingPhishing is a terrible, fraudulent method of receiving information from customers. This involves pretending to be other companies to trick people into handing over personal details, credit card numbers and passwords.
- Identity theftIdentity theft can be a direct result of phishing. Identity theft involves using stolen information to make expensive purchases, take out loans and go on online shopping sprees.
- PagejackingPagejacking involves illegally copying content, designs and logos from a reputable website (including the original HTML code!) and tricking people into entering credit card details for a fraudulent website.
- Advanced fee and wire transfer scamsScammers take advantage of email automation to fool unsuspecting people into handing over personal info or wiring cash to someone far away. Ever gotten an email saying you’ve won a million bucks? You’ve been scammed.
- Merchant identity fraudSimilar to identity theft and pagejacking, merchant identity fraud involves a scammer opening a legitimate merchant account using stolen personal information, then links the account to a fake e-commerce store and makes purchases using stolen credit/debit card information.
Retailers are facing these problems more than ever, so it’s critical to use reliable ecommerce software and keep up to date with ecommerce law to protect your customers and your business from having private information stolen.
The 3 laws and regulations you need to understand
A bad reputation online can cripple an ecommerce brand’s profitability.
It only takes one negative customer experience to unleash the fury of a viral social media hate campaign.
We want to help keep you up to speed with the laws and restrictions around ecommerce payments and delivery so you can solidify the reputation of your brand and reduce the fear and uncertainty of your potential customers to increase those all-important conversion rates.
Here’s the three most important Australian laws and regulations you need to understand to operate professionally online.
#1 Australian Consumer Law
Australian Consumer Law has been around for a looooong time, but it has recently been modernised to get with the ecommerce times.
In October 2008, the Council of Australian Governments created the Australian Consumer Law to provide consumers with important protections and assurances both in-store and online.
The purpose is to mediate relationships between businesses and customers and to make sure businesses can’t rip off customers (or vice versa)
Imagine you’ve just won a bidding war on eBay…
You’re over the moon with excitement and for the next couple of weeks, you spend every arvo waiting for Transdirect to drop your goods off at the door.
However, the item is taking weeks – then months – to arrive and it becomes apparent that the seller has taken your money with no intention of sending you anything in return.
It’s frustrating but like all other businesses, eBay is governed by the Australian Consumer Law, and if the transaction goes wrong there are safety nets in place to ensure customer satisfaction.
EBay has a “Money Back Guarantee” which ultimately protects buyers from getting ripped off and infuriated. This is a generous service, proving the ecommerce giant will go the extra mile to resolve the issue without major legal ramifications.
There’s a similar process in place for customers who don’t pay for their items. Store owners can open an “Unpaid Item Case” to give their customer a final chance to fix the problem, and then after a certain period of time, the case is closed and the store owner is refunded transaction costs.
It’s crucial to understand the rules to avoid legal issues and install reliable ecommerce software to provide a safety net to protect customers from unpleasant shopping experiences.
Shopify, for example, offers a range of security measures including their employee PIN number program which prevents unwelcome scammers from entering the backend of your ecommerce store, while their HackerOne profile rewards security researchers with cash “bounties” for catching hackers in the act.
Transdirect also has a range of shipping plugins to complement security-savvy software like Shopify, Magento and Woocommerce. Install safe software and plugins to ensure your business is covered from fraud and prevent customers from getting burned.
#2 Privacy: Spam and Data Protection Laws
I think we can all agree email automation is a miracle sent from the ecommerce gods.
Email automation allows you to keep customers updated on sales, special offers and new products while entertaining subscribers with useful branded content.
However, email automation also makes it easier for trigger-happy brands to continually shoot unwanted promotions from a never-ending email bazooka.
Google Adwords is an equally miraculous online marketing tool which helps businesses get seen by potential customers the second they search for related terms and keywords.
Similar to email automation, however, products like Adwords and other pay-per-click products have made online consumers anxious about the data trail they leave for potential exploitation.
There’s no doubt Google Adwords and affordable email automation have changed the game of online marketing but Anti Spam Legislation limits what online business owners can do with these products.
Businesses can collect information from customers including emails, phone numbers and home addresses, meaning customers are open to receiving all sorts of promotional material – sometimes even content they didn’t ask for.
The Australian government addressed privacy issues associated with this by implementing the Spam Act in 2003 which preserves the value of subscriber-based emails/messages while minimizing the costs and inconveniences of spam (unsolicited or irritating advertisements).
How to avoid breaking anti-spam laws
- Get express consent from customers to send promotional material. This could be from an opt-in popup on the website or customers entering their details and subscribing to an email newsletter. Make the expectation clear and simple. Don’t try to trick your subscriber. An angry or irritated subscriber will never be a profitable one.
- Include an “unsubscribe” or “opt-out” option. Don’t torture subscribers with no means of escape. The offer to unsubscribe should always be easy to find, clear and in a contrast colour.
- Include clear, concise details about the business in the message. There’s nothing creepier than receiving unaddressed emails. You must provide accurate information about your business including details about how you can be contacted. Always include a reply email address, and if possible – a contact phone number. This will help you address any problems or issues quickly before they escalate.
How to comply with PPC advertising laws
Google Adwords, on the other hand, is governed by Data Protection Laws. These laws prevent customer information from being shared including person’s name, address, financial information, marital status or billing details.
These laws are designed to protect your customers from having their personal information stolen and abused for financial gain.
You must follow these laws and maintain a respectful relationship with customers in order to stay out of trouble – and to keep your reputation intact.
#3 Ecommerce Shipping Restrictions
I hope you haven’t been trying to post fireworks in the mail.
Australia – like most countries – has restrictions on what can be sent via post, courier or freight.
The Australian Code for the Transport of Goods by Road & Rail (ACDG) prohibits all Australians from posting dangerous goods in the mail including:
- Dry ice
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Hazardous materials
- Nail polish
The reason for this is simple.
Posties don’t want their trucks to explode on the job.
Seriously, though, sending dangerous materials and goods via courier/freight/post can be a health hazard – plus, if you’re caught by the courier, your goods won’t arrive to the customer and your entire reputation could be at risk.
Most courier and freight companies have their restrictions clearly marked on their websites. For example, Direct Couriers restricts furniture, glass and dangerous goods, all of which are outlined in their FAQ section.
Want to find out which couriers and freight companies are the best and safest for online retailers to work with?
Australia’s shipping and ecommerce laws are there to protect you and your customers
There are so many laws and restrictions in place to protect customers and business owners from being burned in the online marketplace.
- The Australian Consumer Law is designed to stick up for the little guy or gal and to make sure transactions are honest, reliable and trustworthy for online shoppers.
- Anti Spam Legislation protects customers from receiving unwanted promotional material
- Data Protection Laws prevent businesses from sharing private customer information
- Shipping restrictions in dangerous goods are set in place to protect posties and couriers from harm in the workplace
Overall, these laws and restrictions are designed to keep Australians shoppers – and businesses – safe online.
Stick with trusted, specialist ecommerce software to keep you and your customers safe
There are a wide range of ways to keep up to date with ecommerce laws and shipping restrictions in Australia.
The most reliable method is to install quality ecommerce software like Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce, all of which provide supportive security measures to help protect your business and your customers from getting stung by scammers.
Our shipping plugins can also make it so much easier to comply with updates and changes to legislation, helping develop and maintain trust from your customers.
Helping customers understand which items can and can’t be shipped to their location will encourage a positive relationship with your business and create a trustworthy reputation for future conversions.
Download one of our reliable shipping plugins available for a range of ecommerce software platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and PayPal.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional legal advice. Please consult independent legal advice for information specific to your country and circumstances.