Summer time equals vacation time! But what to do about my online store?

“Always on” is the motto of the internet and online shopping takes no vacation. However, what happens when you want to go on vacation yourself and don’t have anyone to manage your online store? Can the store go on vacation? Of course! In this blog post, I’ll explain what you should be aware of and what legal considerations there are. With a bit of forethought, your vacation will go smoothly for both you and your customers.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Imagine you’ve just ordered something online that you can’t wait to get and expect to receive it in the usual delivery time. But it doesn’t come and two weeks later you still haven’t received the package! In this scenario you’d surely be very angry. Customers of your online store would be too if orders made while you were on vacation piled up without being processed. This is of course the worst case scenario for online store owners: angry customers, lost revenue and even negative reviews on Facebook and elsewhere online.

What does the law say?

Some online store owners assume that a simple note on their website is enough to alert customers to vacation times.  But think again! That may be a good start but is not enough. Legally, it is necessary to provide a concrete delivery date or delivery window. A general description like “On vacation from August 11th to 25th”, is therefore also insufficient. Therefore, there is a so-called “30 Day Rule”, which states that if you do not specify a shipping time then you must ship all orders within 30 days. Businesses can be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief with damages up to $16,000 per violation as well as redress for the consumer.

Therefore, it is important to keep this rule about standard delivery times in mind when planning your vacation. Make sure to adjust all relevant sections of your website as required.

My tip is that if you expect a great deal of orders while away on vacation, make sure to plan extra time into your delivery dates so that you can ship all pending orders on time when you return.

In addition, it is also important to note that in your absence, you still need to be reachable online and by phone. Simply putting your store in vacation mode isn’t enough as you still have business responsibilities, for example to respond to correspondence with partners and suppliers. Taking your store offline is not recommended as it can lead to a drop in your search engine rating.

At this point you may be wondering if a staycation wouldn’t be a better option. Don’t worry! As long as you follow these tips, nothing will stand between you and your vacation:

  1. Inform your regular customers ahead of time and offer a pre-vacation sale.
  2. Notify customers about your vacation in advance on your website.
  3. Review any online advertising campaigns and reduce your ad budget during the time you’re gone so you aren’t spending money unnecessarily.
  4. Review all of your automated e-mails and ensure that your vacation time is noted where relevant.
  5. Update all the sections of your online store that have to do with delivery times and consider taking a look at the terms and conditions as well.

All done? Time to go enjoy your vacation!

Category: eBusiness | Tips
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