If you own a WooCommerce store and are wondering if your shop needs a Terms and Conditions agreement, you've come to the right place.
Let's consider why you should have a Terms and Conditions agreement, what to include in one and where the best place to display your agreement is.
- 1. What are Terms and Conditions?
- 2. Why Your WooCommerce Store Needs Terms and Conditions
- 3. What You Should Include in Your Terms and Conditions
- 3.1. User Guidelines
- 3.2. Governing Law
- 3.3. Right to Terminate Accounts
- 3.4. Warranties
- 3.5. Limitation of Liability
- 3.6. Intellectual Property
- 3.7. Payment Methods and Terms
- 3.8. Cancellation Clause
- 3.9. Exchanges, Returns and Refunds Clause
- 3.10. Shipping and Delivery Information
- 3.11. Any Other Store-Specific Terms
- 4. Displaying Your Terms and Conditions and Getting Agreement
- 4.1. Footer Links
- 4.2. During Checkout
- 5. Summary
What are Terms and Conditions?
Terms and Conditions agreements create a contract between your store and its shoppers. They set out the rights and responsibilities of each party and state what may happen if a user breaches the terms.
It is not a legal requirement to have a Terms and Conditions agreement, however they are a crucial part of protecting your business.
Why Your WooCommerce Store Needs Terms and Conditions
It's important to add a Terms and Conditions agreement to your WooCommerce store because this will provide you with legal protection as the store's owner.
A well-drafted agreement will limit your legal liability, which will shield you from certain breaches and product failures. Terms and Conditions also provide users with clear guidelines about what is acceptable and what isn't.
For example, you can state what is classed as misuse of the site and inform the user that their account may be closed if that fail to comply with your terms. Setting out clear rules and guidelines will help to avoid disputes as it manages user expectations and makes both parties rights and responsibilities clear.
It's likely your WooCommerce store owns intellectual property, such as brands, trademarks and patents. Protect your intellectual property by clearly setting out what you own and how it's protected. It's also a good idea to advise what may happen if the user misuses your intellectual property.
Terms and Conditions are particularly vital to a WooCommerce store in order to set out clear payment and shipping terms. This includes: what payment methods are accepted, how payments are processed, how customer orders are shipped, how long shipping takes and what happens if an order is lost or arrives damaged.
What You Should Include in Your Terms and Conditions
Certain clauses are important for all website's Terms and Conditions agreements, including e-commerce stores. These include:
- A user guidelines clause which sets out the acceptable use of the website
- A clause advising of the governing law, which states what law any disputes will be dealt with under
- A clause that sets out what is classified as abuse of the site and the consequences of engaging in abusive activities, such as having an account terminated.
In addition, there are certain clauses that are crucial for an e-commerce store (such as WooCommerce) to include in its Terms and Conditions. These include:
- A clause regarding warranties, which advises users which products are covered by a warranty
- A limitation of liability clause specifically drafted to reflect the nature of what your shop sells
- An intellectual property clause which identifies everything you own and what is classed as user misuse
- A payment terms clause which advises of methods of payments and how payments are processed
- A cancellation clause which advises of your right to cancel an order, as well as the customer's right to cancel an order
- An exchanges, returns and refunds clause which sets out your policies on the same.
- A shipping and delivery clause to inform customers of your processes
- Any other store specific terms - think carefully about your WooCommerce store.and any other conditions you may wish to include. For example, if your shop offers promotional codes you should include a clause explaining how these work and their limitations.
Let's consider each of these clauses in more detail.
This clause advises on the correct and incorrect ways of using a website and is an important part of explaining the users' rights and responsibilities.
Wool Couture feature a similar clause which explains how users should conduct themselves on the shop's website:
WooCommerce stores can be based around the globe, which is why it's important to tell users where your store is located and inform them which country's laws govern your Terms and Conditions.
Skincare retailer Sodashi has a similar clause which makes it clear that any disputes will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of Western Australia:
You can set the governing law and jurisdiction to whatever you'd like. Most companies choose somewhere that's most convenient as well as most favorable to them.
Right to Terminate Accounts
It's important for any Terms and Conditions agreement to contain a clause stating that the business reserves the right to close accounts.
As a WooCommerce store owner you may wish to close the account of an abusive user.
Make sure this clause explains what conduct could lead to the termination of a user's account, for example abusive behavior towards other users.
WooCommerce store PrintingNewYork states that the company may terminate accounts that are suspected to have violated the shop's terms. The store also advises that it has the right to close accounts without giving a reason or any notice of closure:
Yubico's termination clause says that the company can stop users from accessing the website and service for any reason at all. The company gives the example of failure to pay fees:
Balancing Motions also includes a termination clause which states that a breach of terms may lead to termination or suspension of the user's account. The company adds that if this happens it will not refund any previously paid amounts:
Many retailers include product warranty information as a clause in their Terms and Conditions.
However, some stores prefer to utilize a separate 'Warranty Policy' for this purpose. This all comes down to the store owner's discretion or preference. If you opt to use an entirely separate policy, make sure you link to it in your Terms and Conditions.
Warranty clauses are important as they advise customers what products are covered by a warranty and how long the coverage period lasts. You can also state how your store would rectify any problems with a product that is under warranty.
If your WooCommerce store is based in the US, you should also advise whether there are any relevant state laws that affect your warranty.
Retailer J Hornig's Terms and Conditions contains a warranty clause which includes information about the length of the warranty period and what warranty claims are excluded:
WooCommerce store Rotimatic has a clause which sets out how the shop's 'exclusive limited warranty' operates:
Jococups has a separate warranty page which it references and links to in its Terms and Conditions:
It also includes a short summary of its warranty policy in the clause so shoppers can at least get quick information when browsing the Terms agreement and know that there's more information available elsewhere.
Limitation of Liability
This clause is an essential part of your risk management strategy. A well-drafted limitation of liability clause is invaluable in the event of a dispute.
Typically, the clause informs users that the company is not responsible for errors or inaccuracies on the websites and will seek to limit the businesses liability as much as possible.
This clause is especially important for an e-commerce store since even with the best of intentions there is always the potential that a customer will receive a faulty product. Depending on the nature of the product, it could cause harm to a customer which may lead them to seek damages from your store.
It's crucial to draft this clause carefully and to tailor it to your WooCommerce store and the nature of the products you sell.
For example, a retailer selling hats is at much less risk of being sued for damages as a result of a faulty product than a retailer who sells safety harnesses to tree surgeons. In this example, the second seller would surely have more of a need for a thorough limitation of liability clause.
Rotimatic includes a clause which seeks to limit the shop's liability for everything from personal injury to corruption of data. The use of capital letters helps ensure the clause stands out:
Sarah's Sweet and Savory Snacks has a similar clause which attempts to limit the shop's liability:
This clause is essential for any store owner who has intellectual property to protect. It tells users what you own and what they are and are not allowed to do with your intellectual property.
WooCommerce store R.E.D.D states what it owns and what laws protect the shop's intellectual property:
Balancing Motions also has a super simple intellectual property clause which states that the store owns all of the website's content and that users are not permitted to copy or republish any materials:
Roberto Coin has a trademarks and copyrights clause which makes it clear that the store owns all of its content including graphics, images, audio clips, photographs, logos, software and more:
While these types of clauses tend to be general and claim ownership to all of the proprietary content, some companies do go more specific and list out protected elements. If you do that, it's a good idea to include a general catch-all statement like "various other intellectual property."
Payment Methods and Terms
It's extremely important for a WooCommerce store to include a clause about payment terms.
This clause should cover which payment methods your store accepts, what currency your prices are displayed in and when the customer's payment is required.
Mini Learners has a clause which states what payment methods the shop accepts:
Dineamic also lists what payment methods it accepts and advises what happens if credit card payments are unable to be processed. The store provides links to the Terms and Conditions of the third party payment processors it uses:
PrintingNewYork's payments terms clause advises what payment methods the store accepts and states that all products and services must be paid for at the time of the order:
This clause is used to clarify your rights to cancel an order for any reason, including if a product is out of stock. You may also wish to include the customer's cancellation rights in this clause.
Dineamic's Terms and Conditions contains a cancellation clause in which the retailer gives three reasons it may cancel an order.
The WooCommerce shop also informs users of their cancellation rights and any fees that may occur as a result of their cancellation:
Dinenamic is based in Australia and targets Australian citizens, however It's important to note that if your store is based in the EU or if it targets customers residing within the EU, you are not legally allowed to charge a customer for cancelling their order within 14 days of placing it due to EU regulations.
Austrain retailer J.Hornig advises customers of their right to cancel an order in the following clause:
Make sure you're familiar with any laws regarding mandatory cancellation periods in the areas where you do business.
Exchanges, Returns and Refunds Clause
It's important that your WooCommerce store's Terms and Conditions agreement explains your policy with regard to exchanges, returns and refunds.
Department of Coffee informs users about the store's refunds policy and process, including how customers can receive a refund and the length of time it takes for a customer to receive a refund:
The shop has a separate Shipping and Returns Policy that explains its returns and exchanges process in more depth and detail:
If your store does not accept returns due to the nature of goods sold, this should be made clear to users in your Terms and Conditions.
Japanese retailer Kawaii Box clearly states that subscription boxes cannot be returned in the following clause:
The store's terms also state what would happen in the event that the subscription box was lost in transit and what a customer must do:
Make sure you're familiar with what the laws are regarding returns and refunds in the areas where you do business, and consider creating a Return and Refund Policy in addition to this clause in your Terms and Conditions agreement.
Shipping and Delivery Information
This clause should explain where your shop ships to, how long shipping takes and what shipping company or companies you use.
Magna-Tiles includes all of that information in this clause:
Sodashi's Shipping and Guarantee page includes the store's shipping rates, length of time to dispatch and what customers should do if a parcel does not arrive within this time frame:
While you can create a separate policy solely for shipping information, you may not feel the need to do that if you don't have a complex shipping set-up. For example, if you don't ship worldwide and use multiple carriers, you can likely get away with a simple Shipping clause in your Terms of Service.
Any Other Store-Specific Terms
You should consider any other store-specific policies you wish to include. Think about the nature of the products and services you sell when you do this.
Scottish-based WooCommerce store House of Whiskey has a clause relating to the sale of alcohol which states that customers agree to produce proof that they are aged 18 or over:
Kawaii Box's WooCommerce store operate a subscription service. The shop has a specific term about the customer's subscription contract and how to go about cancelling it:
Sodashi includes a clause explaining how the store's promotional codes work and what happens if a customer wants to return or exchange a product purchased using a code. The clause also explains any limitations of the shop's promotional codes. For example, there is a limit of one code per customer:
Now that you know what the most important clauses are that you should include in your WooCommerce store T&C agreement, let's take a look at where you should display your agreement and get your customers to agree to those clauses.
Displaying Your Terms and Conditions and Getting Agreement
There are a couple of different ways to display your Terms and Conditions agreement. The most popular places for display are footer links and a link provided during online checkout. Let's check out both methods.
Most websites display a Terms and Conditions agreement in the website's footer. This is a good idea since users often check here to find any legal policies.
Another place to display your Terms and Conditions is on your checkout page. This is a great place to display the agreement since all customers have to visit this page when they're actually making and completing a purchase.
It's also vital to get store users to agree to your Terms and Conditions before you finalize the sale as this ensures the Terms are enforceable in court if enforcement is ever needed.
Including a checkbox is the best way to get agreement. This means all customers are required to tick a box confirming that they agree to your Terms and Conditions. Therefore, any customer who has made a purchase from your WooCommerce shop has explicitly agreed to your Terms and Conditions.
Here's how Dineamic includes a link to the store's Terms and Conditions coupled with a checkbox the customer must tick before they can place an order. The shop has made its Terms and Conditions accessible and ensured that customers give appropriate consent:
It's recommended to combine these display methods by including a footer link, as well as a tick box at checkout where your T&C is also linked.
This way if a dispute arises you can show that you did your best to make your Terms and Conditions agreement accessible to users at all stages of the shopping process.
Terms and Conditions are not going to be the most fun part of setting up your WooCommerce store, but they are important. Decide which clauses are essential for your store to include and consider any additional store-specific clauses you will need. Remember to tailor every clause to the unique needs of your shop. One size doesn't fit all here.
Once you have a carefully drafted Terms and Conditions, be sure to display the agreement prominently on your store. Afterall, they're no good if your customers can't find them.
It's a best practice to place legal policies such as Terms and Conditions in your website's footer. You should also ensure users have consented to your Terms and Conditions by placing a checkbox agreement at checkout.