For online retailers, Cyber Monday can set the stage for a gleeful gift-giving season. Here are five tips to help make your “presents” known to holiday shoppers.
1. Honor your delivery promises.
They say timing is everything, and that’s especially true for holiday gifts. In recent years, online retailers have really pushed the envelope in promising on-time delivery to last-minute shoppers. It’s great to offer options for seasonal stragglers. Just remember to support those promises with more than holiday hype. You need to have a reasonable basis for all objective claims you make, including representations about delivery.
2. Avoid a back-order blunder.
There’s one every holiday season: that must-have toy or gadget everyone wants. If you’re shrewd enough to stock this year’s “it” gift, have a plan in place if demand exceeds supply. As you prepare for the holiday rush, Business Guide to the FTC’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Rule offers a refresher on what’s required.
3. Read up on ROSCA.
What’s ROSCA? It’s not Rudolph’s red-nosed sibling. It’s the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. The law puts provisions in place to protect consumers’ billing information. It also prohibits online negative option features unless the seller: 1) clearly and conspicuously discloses all materials terms of the deal before obtaining a consumer’s billing information; 2) gets the consumer’s express informed consent to the negative option feature before charging the person; and 3) provides a simple mechanism for stopping recurring charges. What’s a “negative option feature” in this context? It’s “an offer or agreement to sell or provide any goods or services, a provision under which the customer’s silence or failure to take an affirmative action to reject goods or services or to cancel the agreement is interpreted by the seller as acceptance of the offer.” If your marketing methods meet that definition, keep your holidays merry and bright by complying with ROSCA.
4. Be transparent about your return policies.
Explain your rules on returns and exchanges up front. That’s good advice year-round, but especially during gift-giving time. It’s unwise to bury material information behind vaguely-labeled hyperlinks or on dense “Terms and Conditions” pages that are more snooze-inducing than a second helping of Thanksgiving Turkey.
5. Maintain high security standards during the holiday season.
Many online retailers hire holiday helpers to assist with the seasonal rush. But savvy companies limit access to sensitive information to trustworthy workers who have a legitimate business reason to use it. Cross fraudsters and ID thieves off your gift list by keeping confidential data safe. Start with Security offers advice on how to do that.
P.S. As you make your own gift-giving list, check it twice against the FTC’s top 10 holiday shopping tips for consumers.
Lesley Fair is an attorney with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
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