Interview • 18.02.2019

Worry-free legal compliance: tips for newcomers to online retail

Interview with Johannes Drijkoningen, Händlerbund e.V. (German online trade association)

It is imperative for all online retailers to be legally compliant. We talked to Johannes Drijkoningen, Association Advisor at the Händlerbund e.V. about support, relevant information and unfounded fear of digitization.

Mr. Dijkoningen, retailers are afraid of not being fully legally compliant as it pertains to their online business. Are these worries justified?

Legal uncertainty is a legitimate concern in online retail. On the one hand, trepidations and caution regarding the legal situation are justified. Yet on the other hand, this shouldn’t prevent retailers from conducting business online. Legal certainty gives retailers and consumer a clear framework. That is why it is important to know the legal obligations and ensure legal compliance in the marketplace. We make it easier for small and medium-sized online retailers who want to digitize and professionalize to take the first steps to launch a successful business.

What are the first steps retailers must take to secure their store?

We strongly recommend legally secure texts such as a legally compliant data protection policy, complete legal details and other mandatory legal information on the website. Abuse of process is a major concern in Germany, both at the legal and political level. A legally watertight store that has been reviewed by a lawyer can avoid aggravation and save money.

Do you always need legal advice from an external professional?

Whether you are a lone warrior or a big corporation – every business should consider support from service providers. Especially startups who tend to have limited legal knowledge find a valuable partner in support networks like the Händlerbund. But the first step should always be on a smaller level, because small changes can have a big impact.

How much knowledge can someone gain on their own?

We recommend that retailers follow the latest legal developments and at minimum read relevant expert blogs like OnlinehändlerNews. They offer information about the most important basic structures and possible changes. Retailers often just download the legal texts they need from the internet and are unaware that these documents are outdated or contain unlawful provisions. As a general rule, it is advisable for every entrepreneur – regardless of the industry or sector - to at least have websites, flyers, and advertising checked by a legal authority prior to the launch of the business. Many associations and the Händlerbund offer free fact sheets, templates, and guides.

Does the Händlerbund provide free reference materials?

Yes. We have free checklists and fact sheets. Anyone who wants to obtain legal advice or an in-depth assessment to ensure their online business is legally secure and compliant should consider a Händlerbund membership. We offer three membership packages starting at a monthly fee of € 9.90. Our goal is to protect every online retailer - regardless of their budget. 

Short company bio of Händlerbund

The Händlerbund is a 360° e-commerce network. With its members and service partners, it supports retailers in Europe on their journey to professionalization. Since its launch in Leipzig in 2008, the Händlerbund has been committed to promoting industry growth. Legal security and guidance of online retailers are complemented by customer service, marketing and sales, fulfillment and a wide range of training options, events, news and so much more. Thanks to the rapid development of e-commerce, Händlerbund has quickly become Europe's largest online trade association. www.haendlerbund.de

Author: Maxim Abramov; iXtenso – Magazine for Retailers

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