Every operator of an online store would like to have an Internet presence that does not cause problems in the form of warnings from dissatisfied customers and the resulting work and costs. To prevent such difficulties from occurring in the first place with an online store from Shopify, there are some rules that should be followed.
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Protected terms and brand names
The use of protected terms and brand names should be avoided as a matter of principle. Likewise, the use of names of other companies should be avoided, as this could result in sanctions under competition law due to an existing risk of confusion.
In the best case, you use the "double opt-in procedure" to realize a customer registration for your newsletter. In this process, the customer confirms his or her agreement to receive the newsletter by checking a box and then clicking on a confirmation link in an e-mail. An already set check mark, which the customer must remove in order not to receive the newsletter, is not permitted. Merely an e-mail informing the customer after setting the check mark entails considerable risks of abuse.
"Contact" or "Imprint" should be chosen as the name of an independent, permanently functional link. The link must be compatible with the standard settings of common Internet browsers. The following mandatory information according to the German Telemedia Act applies:
at least one first name
contact information (e.g. telephone number or e-mail address)
Corporations and partnerships:
Registered office with complete address
Contact information (e.g. telephone number or e-mail address)
Separate disclosures may be required for special case groups.
Also interesting: How to create your Shopify imprint.
Do not use names of natural persons, such as "www.helge-schneider.de". Also avoid municipality or city names, for example "www.dortmund.de" and terms that describe government institutions, such as "www.gesundheitsamt.de". Equally problematic are film, book or software titles and the like, for example "www.sturmderliebe.de". You can also avoid warnings if you avoid so-called "typo domains", for example "www.googel.de" instead of "www.google.de".
The use of third party personal data is strictly prohibited. The personal data you provide may only be used for exactly those purposes for which it is expressly permitted or for which the data subject has expressly consented; this is called "strict purpose limitation". As an important exception to the basic prohibition on handling personal data, the legislator has permitted the use of so-called "usage" and "inventory data" - i.e., data that is absolutely necessary in order to be able to use an Internet service at all and to conclude a specific contract. Such data must be deleted immediately after the contract has been completed. You must inform the customer about the exact use of personal data in a "data protection declaration", similar to the imprint. When using images or used software, attention should be paid to licensing rights. Also references to newsletter dispatch, credit checks and cookies should be included.
General Terms and Conditions (GTC)
In principle, no company is obliged to use general terms and conditions. They only make sense if special features of the services offered and questions of doubt are to be taken into account in the execution of the contract. It is dangerous to adopt the general terms and conditions of other market participants. If you want to include general terms and conditions, a reference to them must be unambiguously recognizable to the customer even on cursory inspection of the online store; furthermore, your general terms and conditions must be storable for the customer.
The possible payment options must be visible before the contract is executed; the General Terms and Conditions (GTC) are best suited for this purpose. You must offer your customers at least one payment method that is free of charge for them. Shopify offers you a direct connection to German payment processing services, SSL certificate included. In addition, information about the time of the debit is mandatory.
Right of withdrawal
Since the right of withdrawal is no longer bound to the written form, you are obliged to provide a telephone number, preferably in the imprint. The implementation of a right of return instead of the right of withdrawal is not allowed. For the customer, you must provide a sample revocation statement. Immediately before placing an order, you must provide the customer with an opportunity to view the right of withdrawal, for example as a link on the order page. In addition, you must provide the right of withdrawal in text form, for example as an e-mail after completion of the purchase.
Information obligations immediately before conclusion of the contract
The essential characteristics of the goods or services must be stated, as well as, according to the German Price Indication Ordinance (PAngV), the total price and its composition, for example the product price plus shipping costs and, if applicable, costs for the use of the means of distance communication used to conclude the contract. Terms of delivery, payment, performance and delivery date must be made transparent. It should be noted that courts have declared "in-the-rule delivery times" ("the delivery time is usually ... working days") to be inadmissible; inaccurate information for delivery dates may result in warnings. You must also outline your procedure for dealing with possible complaints. A reference to the existence of a legal right of liability for defects for the goods is also obligatory. In addition, there must be a correction option for the customer to improve incorrect entries.
Claiming quality seals that you do not actually possess is anti-competitive. In addition, you should refrain from quality seals that are awarded against very low requirements or payment of a certain sum; courts have judged the use of such seals to be misleading. If you possess a quality seal only for a specific area, this must be explicitly stated.
There is also a labeling obligation for batteries, textiles, foodstuffs, remedies, medicines, electrical appliances, articles with an FSK or USK age restriction, such as films or computer games, and other goods for whose purchase an age restriction applies, such as alcohol or tobacco products. The use of an age verification system (AVS) is recommended.
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Frequently asked questions about using Shopify legally in Germany
Is Shopify legal in Germany?
Yes. German online merchants can sell legally compliant with Shopify, as long as some precautions are taken.
Is Shopify legally compliant in Germany?
Shopify comes with the technical requirements you need to comply with legal requirements. However, you as a merchant must take some precautions yourself - as with other store systems.
Which legal texts do I need to integrate into the online store?