How to make your Online Store compliant with German law

Every country has its own set of requirements that online businesses must follow. If you run your online business in Germany, you need to make sure your online store meets those of your country.
 
Your Online Store has everything you need to make it compliant with German laws. To access them, make sure that a German address is set as your company address in the Allgemein → Shopprofil section in your Online Store dashboard.
 

Step 1 - Add legal pages

You must display the legal information about delivery, privacy policy, terms of service, etc. in your store. This way, every visitor can have quick access to them from any site page. You should contact your legal advisor to get the necessary legal documents.
 
You can put the text of legal documents into the legal pages in the Einstellungen → Allgemein → Rechtliche Hinweise section in your store dashboard:
 
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To activate a page, move the switch to the Aktiviert position.
 
To edit a page, click Bearbeiten.
 
As a result, the links to legal pages will appear at the bottom of your Online Store. Also, the links to the enabled legal pages will appear in customer notifications that your store sends to buyers, for example, to Order Confirmations.
 
Here is how you can add the links to the legal pages in your Dashboard: Adding legal pages to your online store
 

Step 2 - Link your Online Store to an online dispute resolution platform

According to one of the European directives, every European trader should provide a clickable link to the platform for online dispute resolution (so-called "OS-platform") where the trader and a customer could try to resolve their disputes about online purchases out of court.

To meet this requirement, just add a short description and a link to the OS-platform in the About us page (Einstellungen → Allgemein → Rechtliche Hinweise).

Here are the examples:

 

Step 3 - Set up Right of Return expiration for digital products


If you sell digital products, your customers are eligible to return purchases within 14 days for a full refund unless they have started downloading or streaming digital goods.

If you would like to avoid refund requests for the digital products purchased in your store, you may want to ask your customers for consent to the expiration of the right of return when a digital item is purchased.

To enable this option in your store:

  1. From your Online Store Dashboard (in German), go to Einstellungen → Allgemein → Rechtliche Hinweise.
  2. Activate the Kontrollkästchen zum Beenden des Hinweises auf ein Rückgaberecht für Digitalprodukte anzeigen option:

    Screen_Shot_2020-11-17_at_20.02.58.png

When this option is turned on, the mandatory checkbox will show on the checkout page in your store. Your customers will need to give their consent by ticking off this checkbox in order to proceed with checkout:

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Step 4 - Display tax information

Add information about VAT that will be charged (or won’t be charged) so that customers can see it during shopping in your catalog. You need to include tax information on your product pages, i.e. display total product price saying it includes VAT.

There are two ways you can set up taxes in your store — automatic and manual taxes. In both cases, you’ll need to enter product prices in your product pages the before-tax amount, as the tax will be added on top of the price.

 

Step 4a (optional) - Displaying VAT-exemption for small businesses 


If you are a small business owner and your turnover is not big, you may not be required to collect and pay VAT. However, the law obliges small business owners to notify their customers about their special tax status.

To enable such notification in your store, proceed to Einstellungen → Steuern and enable the option Ich bin Kleinunternehmer gemäß § 19 UStG:

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Learn more about applying a tax.

 

After you enable this option, a note will appear on the product details pages in your store:

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If you your business grows, you may no longer meet the criteria for getting the special tax status. Then you are obliged to collect VAT. Go ahead and set your tax rates in Einstellungen → Steuern and disable the Ich bin Kleinunternehmer gemäß § 19 UStG option.

When your business grows, you may no longer meet the criteria for getting the special tax status. Then you must start collecting VAT. Go ahead and set your tax rates in Einstellungen → Steuern. Then disable the Ich bin Kleinunternehmer gemäß § 19 UStG option.

 

Step 5 - Display shipping information

You should inform your customers about shipping costs and delivery timeframes in your catalog.
 
If you charge shipping costs in your online store, you must inform your customers on every product page that extra shipping costs apply.

Your store displays zzgl. Versand (Excl. Shipping) notice linking to your shipping policy if:
  • You have added at least one shipping method in the Versand und Abholung section of your Online Store dashboard.
  • Your products require shipping.
  • You have enabled the Versandkosten & Zahlungsinformationen legal page in the Einstellungen → Allgemein → Rechtliche Hinweise section of your admin.

Step 7 - Display delivery time in your catalog

The delivery date is the essential mandatory information in eCommerce. You can put this information either in the product descriptions or in an attribute’s text field that appears above the description on product pages.
 
To display delivery time through an attribute:
  1. Go to Einstellungen > Artikelsorten and create product types for different kinds of products that you sell. If you sell products sharing the same properties, you can use the default General product type.
  2. Add a new attribute for your product types (or for the General product type) and name it Lieferzeit:

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As the next step, enter the Lieferzeit values for products to display them on product pages:

  • Go to KatalogArtikel.
  • Open a product.
  • Open the Eigenschaften tab.
  • If you use different product types, click the [ Art ändern ] link and choose the appropriate product type for the product.
  • Enter the value in the Lieferzeit field for the product (number of days, for example):

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Note: To add a footnote regarding the shipping costs in your store, you might want to put an asterisk into the attribute value for Lieferzeit.

 

Step 8 - Display all important characteristics of your product

The product detail page must provide information about the essential characteristics of the product. This will make it easier for your customers to decide what product to purchase.

You can use product attributes to show the list of characteristics on your product pages:

  1. Go to Einstellungen→ Artikelsorten and create product types for different kinds of products that you sell. If you sell products sharing the same properties, you can use the General product type, it is a default one.
  2. Add attributes for your product types (for example, Material and Color for clothes that you sell).
  3. Enter the values for product attributes to display them on product pages:
    • Go to Katalog → Artikel.
    • Open a product.
    • Open the Eigenschaften tab.
    • If you use different product types, click the [ Art ändern ] link and choose the appropriate product type for the product.
    • Enter the values in the attribute fields for the product.
    • Save the changes and repeat it with other products.

After you add the product attributes values for your products, these characteristics will show in the Product page, the Cart page, and the Order Confirmation page for the respective product.

 

Step 9 - Enable customer privacy settings

You should request consent from your customers to use their private information.

You may need to use your customers’ email addresses for different store purposes such as sending them news about your catalog or passing their email addresses over to a delivery company when fulfilling their orders.

The customer's email address is considered personal data, which means you must receive explicit permission from customers to use their emails. To request such permission from your store customers, you can use a special checkbox on the checkout page of your store.

To request permission from customers to use their personal data:

  1. From your store admin go to Einstellungen → Allgemein → Warenkorb.
  2. Scroll down to the Newsletter block.
  3. Activate the Holen Sie die Zustimmung Ihrer Kunden zum Erhalt Ihrer Marketing-E-Mails an der Kasse ein option.
  4. Enter your text in the Labelbeschriftung field.
  5. Save the changes.

After you activate this option, the corresponding checkbox will display at checkout, under the e-mail address input field:

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If a customer gives permission to use their email, you will see this information in their order details in section Verkaufe → Bestellungen.

You can display a banner on your storefront which asks for consent for tracking data via cookies. The banner appears when a customer starts browsing the website. It doesn’t disappear until they make a selection. The customer data is only tracked if they click Accept:

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