Clearly display warnings and product labels, provide clear product descriptions and pictures, and check the requirements of Australian safety standards and bans before listing a product as available for sale online. These are just some of the guidelines in the ACCC’s new publication outlining the best practice tips for online retailers.

A guide for business: Consumer product safety online is designed to inspire confidence in online sellers for shoppers who can’t physically examine the products they intend to buy.

“Australian consumers are increasingly looking to online stores to purchase consumer products but the online environment creates some unique product safety challenges and requirements that online suppliers need to be aware of,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

All items sold online to Australian consumers must comply with Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Businesses, including those based overseas, breach the ACL if they sell banned products, do not meet all requirements of mandatory product safety standards or fail in their obligations related to product liability, consumer guarantees and misleading and deceptive conduct, the ACCC said.

“Businesses must remember that the Australian Consumer Law applies regardless of whether products are sold in a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop, in an online store or via an online marketplace, and regardless of where the seller is based, I encourage all online suppliers to download a copy of the free report,” Dr Schaper said.

The ACCC conducts surveillance of online stores and in 2013 identified two online businesses supplying banned small, high powered magnets to Australian consumers. Following negotiations with the ACCC, these suppliers stopped selling the magnets to Australians and conducted national product recalls. Penalties include infringement notices, or for more serious breaches, the ACCC can seek court-imposed penalties of up to $1.1 million.

More information can be found here.