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3 Legal Issues Online Retailers Must Be Aware of

3 Legal Issues Online Retailers Must Be Aware of

Many experts believed that the eCommerce industry would peak in 2011. However, it has been growing faster than anyone would have predicted. The industry reportedly grew 14.6% in 2015. It grew another 16% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016.

Rapid industry growth creates new opportunities for online retailers. However, it has also attracted more scrutiny from regulators. Governments around the world have imposed new laws for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Protecting consumers from unscrupulous merchants
  • Limiting the competitive edge that online retailers have over their brick-and-mortar counterparts
  • Combatting fraud
  • Fighting money laundering
  • Limiting access to potentially harmful products

Here are some legal issues online retailers must be aware of.

1. Online Sales Taxes

When Amazon first began selling products online, it didn’t have to pay sales tax. The law stipulated that only brick-and-mortar businesses needed to pay it.

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Sales tax laws are now applied to online stores as well. Unfortunately, they vary from state to state and country to country. If you have a physical presence in a state, you may need to pay sales taxes regardless of where your customers are located.

In California, you may also be required to pay sales taxes if you have a representative in the state, even if your main office is based elsewhere. Some states will also require you to charge a sales tax if you sell to customers in their jurisdiction, even if your business is technically based elsewhere.

“Navigating sales taxes is challenging for all businesses,” says Ryan Kh, business development consultant and founder of Catalyst for Business.

“I encourage my clients to review sales data and see which states they receive the bulk of their sales. They may want to establish a physical presence in one of those jurisdictions to avoid the pains of double taxation online retailers often face. Of course, it depends on whether those states have a reasonable tax rate.”

2. Minimum Advertised Price

If you are selling products from another company, they may impose restrictions on advertising. One of the most common restrictions is the minimum advertised price policy many suppliers have.

If you enter into an agreement with a manufacturer, you must follow this policy carefully. According to an infographic by TradeVitality, there are a number of reasons MAP policies are enacted, including preventing merchants from engaging in price wars, which can put pressure on the manufacturer to lower their wholesale price.

It’s important to read the agreement with each supplier carefully. Never advertise a price below what they will allow.

3. Dealing with Fraudulent Payments

Fraudulent payments are a serious concern for online merchants. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, online retailers must usually accept liability for any fraudulent payments.

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Why is the liability different for e-commerce companies? The law states that if a brick-and-mortar retailer uses a CHIP Reader, then it is not their responsibility to determine whether or not fraud took place. It’s up to the bank to monitor the account for fraudulent activity if the retailer took all reasonable precautions.

When an online retailer accepts payment, the transaction is classified as “card not present.” Since the retailer isn’t able to confirm the identity of the buyer, they usually assume the liability. If it is a fraudulent purchase, they will have to pay restitution to the cardholder.

However, this law is not absolute. It is usually based on the assumption that online retailers offer less security than the customers bank. If you can show that you have exceeded expectations with your online security, you may be able to shift the liability back to the bank.

“The liability shift protects the entity who offers the greater level of security by holding the other entity with less secure systems responsible for fraud,” said Carolyn Balfany, a safety expert with MasterCard.

However, it’s difficult to meet this burden, unless the customer has a lax bank that overlooked red flags of fraudulent activity.

“The one thing that merchants are going to have to struggle with, as long as we have cards that are chip and signature, we will see a shift to online fraud,” Mallory Duncan, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Retail Federation, told Yahoo Finance. “Merchants will have to put more roadblocks in the way of transactions in an effort to keep down the fraud occurring online.”

Conclusion

eCommerce companies are being more tightly regulated these days. They must be aware of all laws and take all reasonable precautions to abide by them.

Featured photo credit: Pexels / Negative Space via pexels.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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