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Maryna Postrelko
Written by
Maryna Tarasenko
Marketing Manager at Gepard
CONTENTS
data regulations eCommerce laws product data product information management

eCommerce Laws & Data Regulations: Challenges And Solutions

9 min read
May 13, 2022

eCommerce laws and data regulations are relatively new subjects for legislative bodies around the world. In the last two decades, the world set out on a course toward digitalization. Almost every human being today leaves some sort of a digital footprint.

This trace can range from shopping online, paying for a bus ticket with your phone, or simply being registered as a resident in a local authority’s database. With this notable change in how our society functions it is equally important to have new data privacy regulations that protect us.

Are There Any Specific Laws And Regulations For eCommerce?

A big part of eCommerce laws and regulations that exist today are not specifically targeted toward online business. Most of the basic laws that are related to issues such as copyrights, trademarks, taxes, and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) already existed and were simply broadened for eCommerce businesses.

TOP Challenges With Handling eCommerce Product Content

Finding Quality Rich Content

When starting an online shop most businesses understand that they need to create professional product content that sells. However, most want to make sure that they don’t go above their budget and can’t afford a full-time photographer, content editor, and graphic designer.

Retailers that decide to use in their online shop available material from the public domain often find themselves wasting the most valuable resource, time. The internet has millions of free resources available but the problem is that they lack quality and can’t be customized for a particular target audience.

Keeping Own Product Data Up-To-Date

Besides just uploading all of the product catalogs someone needs to constantly manage it. Whether it is adding new products or updating those that already exist and ran out of stock someone has to keep track of these issues. Of course, this can be done with the help of automation tools but every once in a while someone still has to do manual adjustments.

Handling Regulatory Compliance

Just like with any industry, when you are just starting out and begin learning how to scale a business, facing barriers is part of the deal. Adding to the vast scale of obstacles to running a successful online shop, eCommerce regulations are among them. This is especially relevant if you are planning to sell on third-party platforms like Amazon, eBay, etc. as they often have their own rules in addition to those set by the government.

In particular, most regulatory issues that online retailers face are related to possible copyright infringements. Today the majority of countries even recognize product descriptions as copyrighted work since most of the content doesn’t just have a technical description but also includes a creative marketing narrative. Not to mention that also all of the product images fall under copyright laws which add to the difficulty of navigating the legal environment of running an online shop.

Is It Easy To Handle Content?

How To Find Quality Rich Content

Find The Content Service Provider

With an impressive 5 billion USD in global online sales, eCommerce continues to grow and additionally create new subindustries that services retailers. One such niche business is CSP (Catalog Service Provider), essentially a company that specializes in preparing and handling all aspects of product catalog creation.

There are a large number of CSPs available on the market that vary in the size of businesses they serve and some only specialize in particular products. For example, Nielsen Brand Bank works with fast-moving consumer goods that are traditionally sold in convenience and grocery stores. Acrolinx, utilizes the power of AI technology and helps not just in the creation process but improves product data quality.

Another notable CSP is Icecat, an open-source multilingual catalog of hundreds of renowned brands. It includes a wide range of categories such as all types of electronics, sporting equipment, health products, etc. One of the core benefits of this provider is that manufacturers are direct contributing editors. Meaning that your product data will be updated automatically once an edit is made since the catalog is connected via API. On top of that, this helps eliminate any legal issues since the content is coming directly from the manufacturer. But even if CSP doesn’t feature a manufacturer as a direct contributor, it can still solve the aspect of product data management and governance.

Make Your Own Product Content

Using a service that helps with both the creation and management process of product content is a great option for retailers that have a diverse range of items in stock. However, if your business either specializes in one particular product or simply has a small collection, making your own content is also an option.

Using a service that helps with both the creation and management process of product content is a great option for retailers that have a diverse range of items in stock. However, if your business either specializes in one particular product or simply has a small collection, making your own content is also an option.

Since “product not matching its descriptions” is one of the main reasons for returned goods, text content should be the first step in creating a catalog. Besides listing the material, features, and dimensions a carefully crafted description that lays out product attributes should also include some sort of call to action. Additionally, make sure to list down product care instructions as this will partially help in reducing the returns rate. If your catalog consists of hundreds of items consider hiring a freelance writer who specializes in creating product descriptions.

Use Professional Agency Images Or Google Images

Visual content makes the first impression and it’s important that your product images don’t just display items but also tell a story and positively play on emotions. Before searching for licensed stock images made by a professional agency or using google images put yourself in a buyer role and understand what you want to see in the image, (product use, quality, up-close pictures, etc.). Determining this will not only help you in selecting the right pictures ut will also reduce the time spent searching for them. Additionally, make sure to explore best practices for creating product images.

How To Handle eCommerce Regulations

Product Data Related Regulations

Just like in any other industry, in eCommerce retailers have to follow fundamental intellectual property laws.

  • Trademark – governs the use of any sign, phrase, or design, often a logo, by a retailer or manufacturer on a product that distinguishes it from those made by other parties.
  • Patent – property right with a limited term that protects and grants the use of a new invention only to the legal name it is registered to.
  • Copyright – gives creators of certain artworks such as movies, music, text, painting, etc. exclusive rights to sell and copy them.

Common Regulations

Besides knowing the intellectual property laws it’s important to understand what regulations exist for eCommerce businesses.

  • Taxes – when it comes to eCommerce the main tax that online stores need to understand is sales tax. Depending on where your company is legally registered that is where you need to follow the tax code.
  • Age restriction – with children using the internet today more than ever before there are different restrictions related to the content and also data governance rules. Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) websites can not collect any personal information of kids under the age of 13. This is a US legislation but acts as a global gold standard, considering that the US eCommerce market is the second largest in the world.
  • Shipping restrictions – when it comes to the logistical side of eCommerce it’s not just the rates and time frames that online shop owners need to be aware of. Many postal companies require insuring or providing extra paperwork for certain items or their components. Some products are simply prohibited by the postal service.
  • Payments (PCI-DSS compliance) – any online shop has installed a functioning payment gateway that collects credit card information. Most of the gateways by default have strong data security regulations but it’s still important to understand how to have a secure environment for storing such sensitive data.
  • User data privacy (GDPR for EU) – this legislative act puts regulations on the way data of European Union citizens is collected, stored, and used. Any retailer that wishes to work in the EU market has to comply with GDPR or risk being fined.

What Are Some eCommerce Common Regulations?

eCommerce Industry Standards

  • EPREL – before your online store can start selling on the EU market, all of the products that come with an energy label, need to be registered in the official database. The registration process can seem somewhat bureaucratic and redundant but this can actually be used to your advantage by demonstrating how your online shop raises consumers’ carbon footprint awareness.
  • GDSN – a global network of product data that is available for use to all retailers. The core benefit here is that there is no need to back and forth communications to determine information about complex products. A simple connection to the GDSN data pool can synchronize this information with your product database.
  • Pi-Standard – acting very much like the GDSN, this standard is specifically targeted at all EU manufacturers of electronic home appliances. Covering over a hundred product groups available, PI-standard simplifies the process of keeping up to date on all of the possible changes in certain electronic goods and updating that information throughout your sales channels.
  • ETIM – a standard that has been created for global industrial manufacturing companies to effectively exchange product data with retailers. Having access to this multilingual database increases your operational efficiency and eliminates any manual data handling.

Using Third-Party Product Content: Best Practices

Assume Every Image That You Haven’t Produced On Your Own Is Copyrighted

When searching for images to use on your website, always check if the one that you select is copyrighted. Neglecting this can come at a hefty price in a form of a fine or in the worst case a lawsuit. Any image that is found online can be searched for via google images where detailed copyright information can be found. If the image is indeed protected you can always ask for permission to use it.

Link To The Original Image

With the internet being an endless resource of media and content sometimes it’s simply impossible to figure out if a particular image is copyrighted. In such cases always link the original source of the image and author if available.

Use Creative Commons Licensed Images

Images licensed for commercial use that can be found on stock photography providers’ websites such as Shutterstock, Unsplash, iStock, or even Wikipedia are often not copyrighted but rather CC Licensed. This means that the author of the image allows for it to be freely copied, modified, and used for commercial purposes.

Consider Ordering Product Content Production From Qualified Agencies, Stocks, Or Make It Yourself

Certain product types need an individual approach when it comes to creating images for them. For example, jewelry items need a lot of up-close professional pictures made in a shadowbox, or musical instruments will need 360-degree photography. In these cases review previous work of professional agencies that make visual content and outsource this task. Consider starting with a small portion of your collection to be sure that this is the right way to go about it.

How To Use Third-Party Content?

eCommerce Laws And Product Data Regulations FAQ

How To Write Content For A Product?

Powerful visual presentation is what grabs shoppers’ attention but the next thing that a potential buyer will most certainly do is read the product description. Having a section that lists out the technical aspect is of course one of the main things you want to include. However, it’s important to remember that emotions play a far bigger part in the buying decision process.

Before even starting the process of drafting any content have a brainstorming session to determine the perfect buyer persona. From there every decision should be stemming from that image of the client that will shop with you. Understand their point of view, what motivates them, what triggers them on an emotional level, and what type of response you want to produce.

How To Copy All Product Content From A Website?

Copying product content from a website can be done with the more traditional way of extracting a CSV file from your database and repurposing it where required in a suitable format. But if the goal is to have multiple sales channels it’s much simpler to use a connector that performs all of this automatically once the initial setup is done.

How To Enhance A Product Page Content For SEO?

As mentioned earlier, when creating content the aim is to do it for a particular buying person. This also means that the phrasing of the content itself needs to be clear and aimed at humans. Rather than following the typical guidelines suitable for SEO crawlers. Today most tools that search engines use to analyze a website’s content are sophisticated to a level where linguistic nuances act as a page ranking factor.

Having an FAQ and having a customer review sections on the product page itself is also one way to boost your SEO. By adding these components Google’s algorithm will understand that a particular page has unique content coming from the reviews and useful information from FAQ answers.

How Do You Syndicate Product Data Content?

The most efficient way of syndicating your online shop’s data to various sales channels is through PIM software. When choosing a PIM solution it’s important to understand the syndication process behind that particular tool. Dive deep in exploring the data handling capabilities of the software as this is the predominantly most important aspect of syndication.

How Gepard’s Innovative Solution Helps With Business Expansion

When launching an online shop the creation of quality product content is one of the factors that will determine how the shop performs. However there will always be a maintenance need: this very same content has to be properly governed, constantly updated, and adhered to various regulations.

Using a service like Gepard will give you a chance to focus on scaling your business and increasing revenue rather than getting caught up in day-to-day technical tasks. If you are a manufacturer of multiple products, Gepard can help by syndicating your catalog to different sales channels. Additionally, our software will manage and govern product information efficiently making sure that it is constantly enriched with the latest updates.

Contact us to get your free demo and find out how we can help you with product data quality and governance.

How To Comply With Data Regulations?

 

 

Maryna Postrelko
Written by Maryna Tarasenko
Marketing Manager at Gepard
A passionate professional with solid expertise in Content Marketing, External Communications, Email Marketing, and Social Media. Marketing Manager at Gepard, the product information management & syndication platform, helping to centralize diverse product data and deliver complying content to sales channels.

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