With the general proliferation of online sales in the last six months, the vaping industry is seeing more online orders than ever. This poses new challenges for retailers selling vaping products online who may be more accustomed to traditional in-person checks.
To ensure your potential online sales don’t go up in a cloud of smoke, read on to discover:
the legal age for vaping in the UK,
UK Vaping Laws for online retailers,
how to be legally compliant when selling online, and
an easy online compliance solution.
Vaping in the UK: What Is The Legal Age?
To vape in the UK, the user must be 18 years of age or over.
UK Vaping Laws For Online Retailers.
New laws that directly influence vaping retailers were introduced in 2015. To quote the government guidance:
“Rules about tobacco, e-cigarettes and smoking: 1 October 2015
On 1 October 2015 it became illegal:
for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or e-liquids to someone under 18
for adults to buy (or try to buy) tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18”
These laws apply to both purchases made in physical stores as well as online. As a result, online retailers must properly verify the age of the customers before selling to their products to remain on the right side of the law.
With failure to comply potentially resulting in a £2,500 maximum fine, getting it wrong could get very expensive, very quickly!
Legal Compliance When Selling Vaping Products Online.
While the law is clear that only adults can use and purchase vaping products, it’s crucial for retailers to understand how they are expected to comply with UK vaping laws as sellers of these products.
For online stores, this is more difficult as they obviously don’t have physical contact with the customer in order to verify age via the usual means e.g. a driving licence.
To check their own compliance, online retailers can refer to:
1. Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 1296: Online Age Checking.
Developed by the Digital Policy Alliance and British Standards Institution (BSI), PAS 1296 is the industry standard for effective age verification. It offers a code of practice for businesses that either provide age checking services or need to use these services in order to sell their products. By following the due diligence recommendations PAS 1296 provides, businesses can ensure they are fully compliant with the law.
2. Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA) Code Of Conduct.
If you’ve outsourced your age checking process, it might be worth seeing if your supplier is an AVPA member. Representing businesses providing age verification services, the association has a code of conduct for its members to ensure trading standards in the following areas:
fairness and transparency,
use of appropriate verification methods,
security and privacy,
3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to all retailers, regardless of the type of products and services sold, and is designed to ensure your customers’ personal data is held safely and securely. As such, this legal framework applies when you are verifying your customers’ age during the selling process. Any measures you take must be compliant with GDPR regulations.
An Easy Online Solution: AgeChecked App For Shopify.
The legalities and administration of age verification online can be overwhelming, especially when you can’t afford to neglect other core business activities like sales, marketing, accounting, and distribution.
For Shopify retailers though, a new solution has just arrived on the scene: the AgeChecked App.
What Is The AgeChecked App For Shopify?
The AgeChecked App is the first truly regulatory compliant app for Shopify stores selling age restricted products such as alcohol, knives or vaping products. Created in partnership with leading age verification company, AgeChecked, the app checks the customers’ age behind the scenes without them having to submit any details.
Does The AgeChecked App Comply With UK Laws?
Yes. The AgeChecked app is compliant with:
the British Standards Institution’s PAS 1296: 2018 Online AgeChecking Code of Practice,
the Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA) Code of Conduct, and
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Find out more about how the technology works, how data is used, and how it meets regulations on the AgeChecked website.
Why Do I Need An App When I Can Do It Myself?
That’s a good question! Here’s the answer:
1. Better Customer Service.
Poorly executed or intrusive age verification can be a real turn off for customers and may prompt them to abandon their purchase altogether. A solution that works behind the scenes like the AgeChecked App gives you a better chance of converting each potential sale.
With AgeChecked, once your customer has chosen their products to purchase, they simply proceed through the checkout as normal. There are no annoying pop-ups and at no point do they need to enter their age. Watch our short video to learn more here.
2. Less Administration Work.
Maintaining a bespoke system to check each and every online order is a huge administrative (and error prone) headache. However, with the AgeChecked App, you’ll free up valuable time to focus on growing your business.
The app process is simple: you’ll be able to select the orders that you want to verify, either in bulk or one at a time. And, if you're using the 'Plus' version of the app, it will automatically select new orders to process. Then the app will quickly run the age verification and show you the results. You'll see which customers have passed or failed the age verification and you can then either ship the order or follow up with them. Easy peasy!
3. Cost Effectiveness.
The penalty of £2,500 for non-compliance will add up if you don’t have a reliable system in place. As a result, many retailers selling age-restricted products are seeking automated solutions like the AgeChecked App.
The basic app plan is free to install (no contract) and then you just top up credits as and when you need them. There are no charges for returning customers. Read more details here.
Drawing Breath & Next Steps.
While vape sellers must comply with the UK Laws, this need not be a time consuming and expensive process to manage. For Shopify retailers, a highly reliable and well-priced solution now exists with the AgeChecked App. The app is available now in the Shopify App Store. Once you install the app, you’re all set! Alternatively, contact us to chat about the AgeChecked App.
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