Running a business

Selling online

E-commerce means people can buy from your business using a website, social media channels, mobile and tablet apps. When you sell online, your rights and obligations to customers are the same as when you sell from a bricks and mortar store. This includes when you sell through sharing economies such as AirBnB, UBER and Airtasker.

Selling through ride, accommodation and task sharing economies

As a business, you must display your registered business name on your website. You should make it easy for customers to contact you by providing your:

  • physical address
  • phone number
  • email.

Help customers understand your business practices and include on your site:

  • refunds and returns policy
  • terms and conditions of sale
  • complaint handling policy
  • information sharing policy.

Clear and accurate descriptions

By law, goods and services must have a clear title and match the description, make and model that you show customers. Make sure photos of goods or services:

  • are clear
  • show the same item as the customer will receive
  • display accurate colours.

Close-up shots or different angles can also help customers make a decision.

When you describe goods or services include things like:

  • sizes and dimensions
  • any variations or restrictions in service
  • timing for services eg - one-hour massage, three-day tour
  • what products are made of
  • care instructions
  • country of origin
  • what is included in the price of services.

Orders and deliveries

The customer can’t see all the steps in a sale when they order something from your business. Tell customers when you have:

  • received an order - written confirmation also helps you trace the order
  • shipped an order - telling the customer that you have sent the order can help you finish the ordering process, track delivery and can prompt the customer to contact you if there is a problem.

Give customers clear information about deliveries - dates and approximate times - and if there are any delays in sending packages.

Protecting customer information

Secure online checkouts can protect your customers' financial details. A secure web address has 'https:' at the beginning ('s' means 'secure') and a lock icon in the address bar.

Tell your customers what information you collect and store and how their personal information will be used. Some businesses must put extra protections in place. Most small businesses can choose whether to comply but check what relates to your business under the Privacy Act 1988.

Emailing customers

When sending customers a commercial email you must:

  • have the customer's consent - express or inferred
  • make sure it's clear who you are as the sender and how you can be contacted
  • give the customer the chance to opt out or unsubscribe from receiving emails.

Find out more about spam laws in Australia.

Related information

On this site

Other websites

Checklist for business-to-consumer e-commerce in Australia

Contact CBS

Online: Contact CBS

Phone131 882

In person:
91 Grenfell Street

GPO Box 1719
Adelaide SA 5001

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Page last updated 14 September 2018

Provided by:
Department of Treasury and Finance
Last Updated:
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