E-commerce in a Nutshell
New means of communication resulting from technological development have led to an increased awareness of goods and services. This awareness, or globalization, has increased demand for these products and created more opportunities for businesses, such as e-commerce.
E-commerce can be defined as a trade model integrated with technological instruments that involve selling and marketing goods and services to consumers online.
Benefits of E-commerce for Consumers and Companies
E-commerce is beneficial because it lowers the costs of marketing, managing, logistics, and infrastructure involved in selling a product. These lower costs of doing business are passed on to the consumer, making online shopping more attractive than traditional alternatives. In addition, because many consumers work long hours with extremely tight schedules, time is a very important consideration for today's businesses. E-commerce allows people to shop at times that fit their schedules. Since many people have set shopping preferences, they can manage their time more efficiently by using e-commerce for their orders.
For companies which promote, sell, or market their goods or products online, e-commerce enables them to reach potential consumers more efficiently. E-commerce companies can diversify markets by enlarging their customer portfolios and controlling the risk by decreasing operational costs with more effective channels of distribution.
E-commerce under Turkish legislation
E-commerce is a relatively new area of business and the Law on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce1 ("Law") came into force in Turkey on May 1, 2015. The Law sets out the principals and procedures regarding the electronic commerce practice in Turkey by specifying the rights and obligations of service suppliers, consumers, and intermediary service suppliers, as well as the scope of electronic commerce agreements.
Obligations of Service Suppliers
According to the Law, a service supplier is the real or legal person who carries out electronic commerce activities. In accordance with the Law, before providing a service or product sale agreement via electronic communication instruments, the service suppliers must provide the consumers with i) introductory information on the relevant service supplier, ii) technical information, iii) information on whether the agreement will be kept at the records of the supplier and iv) information on confidentiality rules and if any as well as, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Before the payment details are submitted and prior to the approval of the order, the service supplier must explicitly introduce the conditions (including the cost of the service/product) of the agreement to the customer, or risk the penalty prescribed by the Law.
Liability Limitations for Intermediary Service Suppliers
Intermediary service suppliers provide the electronic environment for businesses to promote, market, or sell their services or products online. The Law only provides for limited liability terms against intermediary service suppliers. Pursuant to such Law, the Intermediary Service Suppliers are not obliged to be aware of or control the contents of the supplied products or services; they are only responsible for maintaining the electronic environment for e-commerce activities.
New Prohibition on Information SMSs
On May 1, 2015 by entry into force of Law, a new provision was introduced to protect the rights of consumers: Pursuant to the Law, the electronic SMSs can be sent by companies to customers only upon receipt of consumers' prior permission. This permission may be obtained in writing or by other means of electronic communication such as a response SMS, etc. Such prohibition however is not applicable to craft and trade workers. Consumers can reject receiving such electronic marketing messages without providing a reason. The suppliers must ensure that the consumers are not charged for sending permission or rejections on receipt of further electronic SMSs from the supplier for marketing purposes.
Draft Regulation in the Pipeline
A new Draft Regulation on Commercial Communication and Commercial Electronic Messages2 ("Draft") has been finalized and sent to the Prime Minister's attention. The Draft sets forth the procedures and the principles for all electronic communications. The Draft will only be applicable to messages used for marketing purposes. Individuals or companies who send text messages to consumers must appear as the sender by means of the strict provisions of the Draft. The content of the messages, such as whether it is a gift or a promotion, must be clear and the consumer's consent must be received explicitly.
As an emerging market, e-commerce is a growing sector in Turkey. We hope that solid promulgation of legislation continues to create a legal environment that protects both the suppliers and the consumers.
1.Law on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce ("Law") numbered 6563 and dated October 23, 2014
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.