View Full Version : FTC Guidelines for my ecommerce store

22 Mar 2011, 09:35 AM
What can anyone tell me about FTC Guidelines for my ecommerce store? I need to know specifically about new businesses, since Iím... um... new to this whole ebiz thing.

22 Mar 2011, 09:51 AM
We can absolutely help, especially since the guidelines are pretty common sense, and are really just a code of conduct that focuses attention to transparency and fair practices.

● Practice honesty, clarity, and completeness in any information you provide about the nature of your business, the specifics of your product/service, and your marketing practices.

● Be clear about the details of any transaction before that transaction takes place. This includes any “hidden” costs, return policies, expected delivery time, etc. NO FINE PRINT! Make sure your customer knows they’re about to close a business transaction before they click “OK”.

● Keep your online transactions user-friendly and secure. Stick to widely known and trusted shopping cart solutions-- PayPal, Visa, Google Checkout, ZenCart, and the like. Make every effort to protect your customer’s financial and personal information before, during, and after any transactions.

● Make certain you address any consumer complaints/issues/concerns quickly and completely.

● Work with consumer representatives, like the BBB, to develop clear and consistent self-regulatory practices.

● Teach your customers about ecommerce in general, and your take on ecommerce specifically. The more they know about your business and the market in general, the more they’ll appreciate why your business is their best choice (hopefully)

This is a pretty streamlined list, but it hits all the guidelines as presented by the FTC. Definitely read up, and contact the FTC (http://business.ftc.gov/documents/alt067-electronic-commerce-selling-internationally-guide-businesses) for the booklet going into further detail for sure. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what’s expected of us all.

22 Mar 2011, 10:18 AM
Can’t forget CAN-SPAM! Your marketing is going to very likely involve email in one form or another, and you’d be amazed what can get you slapped with a spam label. That label means that, very likely, any correspondence from you to customers who perceive your mails as spam will be lost to the spam folder, and they’ll never see another email from you. This counts even for mailing lists customers opt-into. So, let’s go over a few points from the CAN-SPAM Act that’ll keep that stigma off you--

1. All header info must be clear and truthful-- the From, To, and Reply-to fields and any routing info must be accurate and identify you or your business.

2. Subject lines cannot be deceptive, and must be an accurate indication of what’s in the body of the email.

3. Make it clear and obvious that the email is an ad.

4. Include your physical address, and a non-email means of contacting you.

5. Make it clear to users as to how they can opt-out, and honor any opt-out request within 10 business days.

These laws apply to you even if you hire out your mailing and marketing. That means that, should the agent you hire to handle this stuff, violate any of these points, you reap the whirlwind along with them. Your emails are your responsibilities, whether you actually send the mails or not.

I’m adamant about making sure folks know about CAN-SPAM because I got nailed with a fine for a violation of #s 4 (didn’t realize I had to include physical address), and 1 (was using a proxy server and the onion router when sending out the emails), but ignorance of the law does not justify breaking the law. Be proactive in complying with this stuff, because you can unintentionally burn a lot of bridges (and the leads along with them) very quickly.