By Shirin Movahed
Let’s get real for a second. If you are a Canadian business, then your potential growth is limited, given Canada’s population is approximately 36 million. With an eCommerce business, expansion is as easy as a click of button (or a few program codes) to open access of your website to the U.S. market, which boasts a population of just over 323 million. Simple math says that’s more potential revenue. But before you decide to target the U.S. market, you should take the time to consider how U.S. eCommerce laws may affect your business.
What Laws Apply?
In the U.S., in addition to the well-established laws such as intellectual property infringement, false advertising, fraud, and privacy, you will also need to comply with the other applicable state and federal eCommerce laws in the U.S. if you are targeting U.S. customers.
ECommerce Laws in the U.S.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary agency tasked with regulating eCommerce activities, and has passed various legislation in the regulation of eCommerce. The CAN-SPAM ACT of 2003 and the Federal Trade Commission Act include protecting consumer privacy, delivery, return and refund policies, handling customer data, collecting taxes, and complying with online marketing and advertising. In addition to US federal laws, you must also consider the state laws of where your customer resides as they may require additional protections. For example, under California law, if your business does not offer cash, merchant credit or exchanges within 7 days after purchase, then you have to post a “no refund” policy somewhere on your website so your customer understands and agrees to the limitations before making their purchase. If your policy is not prominently displayed, then you run the risk of violating this California law and your customer in this state would be entitled to a full refund within 30 days of the purchase regardless of your refund policy.
Best Practices for Online Ecommerce Businesses in the U.S.
If you have a new or blossoming online business targeting the U.S. market, it is vital to carefully craft your company’s terms, conditions and policies, which clearly and prominently set out the terms of your business and secure your agreement with the customer to adhere to your policies before they decide to make a purchase. Terms and conditions are an essential part of protecting your business and your personal interests when selling online.