Knowing how to write terms and conditions of sale is vital to running a successful ecommerce business. Your T&Cs help customers understand how you will provide goods and/or services, and also assist in protecting your business from future disputes and liabilities.
How to write terms and conditions
You can use Sparqa Legal to generate terms and conditions of sale for your website. To do so, simply:
- Decide which template you need, depending on what you’re selling, and click the button below or follow the relevant link (use Terms and conditions – Sale of goods if you’re selling goods, Terms and conditions – Services if you are a service provider, or Terms and conditions – Sale of goods and services if you’re selling both goods and services);
- Click ‘Get started’ and complete the questionnaire to customise the terms and conditions for your business;
- Download your terms and conditions and read through them carefully to check they are suitable for your business;
- Provide your terms and conditions to potential customers before they agree to use your goods and services, to minimise the risk of disputes (you can use these terms and conditions whether you sell face to face or at a distance (such as through a website)). Make sure your terms and conditions are clear and easily accessible to customers (see further guidance below on how to do so).
If you choose to write your own bespoke terms and conditions of sale, you should seek legal advice to check you’re covering all the necessary information. You can access a specialist lawyer in a few simple steps using our Ask a Lawyer service.
When to use these T&Cs
You can use these terms and conditions if you sell goods and/or services to other businesses or to consumers. You can also use these terms and conditions whether you sell face to face or at a distance (such as through a website).
You can use these terms and conditions alongside an order form if you wish, which can be filled in with the details of each sale. Templates are available on Sparqa Legal, whether you are selling only goods, only services, or both.
What to include in your terms and conditions of sale
Our template terms and conditions set out the terms on which you provide goods and/or services to customers, and include terms to protect your business from liability and disputes with customers.
Note that if your T&Cs provide more than the legal minimum to consumers (eg you provide a longer period to return goods than the minimum required under law), you must stick to what you have promised.
For more guidance on what terms and conditions you should include on your website, see this blog.
How to display your T&Cs
If you choose to have standard terms and conditions of sale, you should provide a clear link to them on your website and ensure that they are in a format that can be downloaded and printed off by the customer. It’s common practice to put a link in the footer on every page of your site, and it’s good practice to also include a link and a tick-box near the end of your online sales process. This makes customers acknowledge that they’ve seen your terms and conditions before they can actually make a purchase.
To help improve your customers’ understanding of T&Cs, the Government recommends that you:
- use an FAQ format to present key terms, eg ‘How can I return items?’;
- illustrate key terms with icons, eg using a pound sign next to the question ‘How much does it cost me to return an item?’;
- provide terms in a scrollable text box rather than requiring customers to click into a different page to view;
- provide information in short chunks at the right time, eg using a pop up box when requiring a customer’s email address explaining why you need it;
- use illustrations and comics to explain certain processes, such as how to cancel the contract;
- tell customers how long it will take to read your terms and conditions; and
- let customers know when it’s their last chance to read your terms and conditions.
Marion joined Sparqa Legal as a Senior Legal Editor in 2018. She previously worked as a corporate/commercial lawyer for five years at one of New Zealand’s leading law firms, Kensington Swan (now Dentons Kensington Swan), and as an in-house legal consultant for a UK tech company. Marion regularly writes for Sparqa’s blog, contributing across its commercial, IP and health and safety law content.