What You Can’t Sell on Various eCommerce Platforms: Guide

What You Can’t Sell on Various eCommerce Platforms: Guide


Understanding what you can’t sell on various eCommerce platforms is crucial for any seller looking to avoid pitfalls and capitalize on their digital storefront. From Magento’s self-hosted flexibility to Shopify’s detailed restrictions, each platform carries its unique set of guidelines. This guide will help you understand the prohibited and restricted items across major eCommerce platforms.

Platform-Specific Restrictions: Restrictions By Platform

Items in boxes showing what you can't sell on eCommerce platforms

Each eCommerce platform’s unique ecosystem and policies dictate what sellers can and cannot offer. The following is a detailed breakdown of the unique restrictions imposed by each platform. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established business, staying informed and compliant is key to your success in the digital marketplace.

Wix

Wix Payments has a detailed list of prohibited products and services due to its compliance with authorities, regulators, and financial partners. Some categories of prohibited products and services on Wix include:

  • Adult: Various adult goods and content, including pornographic materials and adult entertainment venues.
  • Financial Businesses: Certain financial services like credit repair, debt collection, and virtual currencies.
  • Healthcare: Restricted medical devices, prescription-only products, and certain supplements.
  • Intellectual Property: Counterfeit and IP-infringing products and devices designed to circumvent copyright protection.
  • Marketing Practices: Deceptive marketing tactics and services fostering deception.
  • Regulated Products: Certain alcohol sales, cannabis dispensaries, and products related to drug use or production.
  • Securities and Trading: Various high-risk securities and trading services, including cryptocurrency-related services.

Shopify

Shopify Markets Pro has specific restrictions for various types of goods. Some of the prohibited and restricted items include:

  • Alcoholic Beverages: Restrictions on products containing and used in brewing alcohol.
  • Animal and Pet Supplies: Certain supplies are restricted.
  • Artwork: Restrictions on artwork that violate copyright or trademark laws.
  • Automotive and Powersports: Considered dangerous goods needing pre-approval.
  • Batteries and Electronics: Restrictions on all batteries and certain electronic items.
  • Beauty and Cosmetics: Compliance reasons or hazardous materials lead to restrictions.
  • Consumer Safety: Heavily-regulated goods and safety equipment are restricted.
  • Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia: Various restrictions on drug-related items and equipment.
  • Explosives, Weapons, and Related Items: Various restrictions on dangerous items.
  • Flammable and Pressurized Goods: Restrictions on items like adhesives and aerosols.
  • Ingestibles, Wellness, and Medical Devices: Restrictions on various health-related items.
  • Sex and Sensuality Products: Restrictions on items depicting sexually explicit materials.
  • Tobacco and Related Products: Various restrictions on tobacco-related products

As a seller, your diligence in adhering to these restrictions safeguards your business and contributes to a trustworthy and secure marketplace for all.

Magento

Magento, a self-hosted platform known for its extensive customization, including managing and enforcing selling restrictions, has detailed guidelines in its Acceptable Use Policy to ensure the responsible use of its services. While Magento’s documentation doesn’t list specific prohibited items, it focuses on maintaining a lawful, secure, and respectful environment. Here’s a breakdown of what’s explicitly prohibited based on Magento’s Acceptable Use Policy:

  1. No Illegal, Harmful, or Offensive Use or Content: You cannot use Magento services for any illegal activities like illicit pornography, fraudulent schemes, or activities harmful to others or to Magento’s operations or reputation, including disseminating offensive content that is defamatory, obscene, abusive, invasive of privacy, or otherwise objectionable.
  2. No Security Violations: Activities that violate the security or integrity of any system or network are prohibited, including unauthorized access, interception, and falsification of origin.
  3. No Network Abuse: You must not engage in network activities that impair or disrupt the systems you interact with. Prohibited actions include denial of service attacks, intentional interference, and operating certain network services like open proxies or mail relays.
  4. No E-Mail or Other Message Abuse: The distribution of unsolicited email or messages, alteration of mail headers, or assuming a sender’s identity without permission is not allowed. Compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act and similar laws is required.
  5. Monitoring and Enforcement: Magento reserves the right to investigate any violation of its policies and take appropriate action, which may include removing content, disabling access, or modifying resources that violate the policy. They may report suspicious activities to law enforcement or regulators and cooperate in investigating and prosecuting illegal conduct.

By adhering to Magento’s Acceptable Use Policy, sellers can ensure they maintain a compliant and respectable presence on the platform. Understanding these restrictions and operating within the legal framework is crucial to avoid potential consequences such as account suspension, legal action, or other penalties.

WooCommerce

WordPress.com maintains specific guidelines for eCommerce services on its sites, including WooCommerce stores or Payments blocks. These guidelines align with the platform’s Terms of Service and User Guidelines, emphasizing the prohibition of certain types of products and activities to ensure the safe, legal, and responsible use of its services. Key points include:

  1. Prohibited Items: The sale of certain items is strictly forbidden, including
  • Firearms, weaponry, and related accessories or ammunition
  • Fireworks
  • Sexually explicit material and adult services
  • Controlled substances, including tobacco products, e-liquids, marijuana, and other cannabis-derived products
  • Personal
  • Restricted Sales with Conditions:
    • Alcohol: Sales are allowed under limited circumstances with WooCommerce, subject to specific
      guidelines.
    • CBD: Sales are permitted in limited situations when using WooCommerce and payment processing via Square
      or Viva Wallet.
  • Guideline Interpretation: WordPress.com reserves the right to interpret these guidelines at its discretion.
    The provided list is not exhaustive and can change over time.
  • Understanding and adhering to these guidelines is crucial for anyone looking to operate an eCommerce store on WordPress.com.

    BigCommerce

    BigCommerce accommodates a broad range of products, including high-risk ones, such as CBD, vape products, and alcohol, provided you comply with legal regulations and have appropriate payment gateways and merchant accounts. There are some exceptions, though.

    Key prohibitions include:

    • Lawful Use Only: Activities must be legal, not invasive, infringing, or fraudulent.
    • Content Restrictions: No profanity, inappropriate content, or violation of third-party rights. Explicitly, there is no illicit pornography.
    • Privacy: Posting private information or images without consent is prohibited.
    • Misrepresentation and Hacking: Forging transmission data or unauthorized access to systems is banned.
    • Viruses and Spam: No creation or distribution of harmful software or unsolicited mass emails.
    • Anonymous Proxies: Usage of anonymous proxies on BigCommerce servers is not allowed.

    Adhering to these guidelines is crucial for maintaining a compliant presence on BigCommerce and ensuring a secure user environment. Violations can lead to severe consequences, including service termination.

    Squarespace

    Squarespace is generally quite lenient as an eCommerce platform, but it enforces several important restrictions primarily governed by its Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy.

    Notably, if your Squarespace site is connected to payment processors like Stripe, Afterpay, Clearpay, PayPal, or Square, or if you’re using shipping carriers like FedEx, UPS, and USPS, you’ll also need to comply with their specific policies regarding prohibited businesses and goods.

    Here are some key areas Squarespace focuses on in its Acceptable Use Policy:

    1. Abusing and Disrupting the Services: Squarespace prohibits any activity that undermines the integrity of its services, including bypassing security measures, interfering with other users or the network, and reverse engineering any part of the service.
    2. Spamming and Phishing: Users must not use Squarespace services to send spam, unsolicited communications, or deceptive messages, including phishing or spoofing.
    3. Deceiving and Impersonating Others: Any form of deception, fraud, or impersonation is strictly prohibited on Squarespace.
    4. Stealing: Using unauthorized payment devices or promoting unauthorized products or services is not allowed.
    5. Infringing, Misappropriating, and Violating Rights: Users must not infringe on intellectual property rights or violate anyone’s privacy or publicity rights.
    6. Other Improper or Illegal Conduct: Threats, harassment, incitement of violence, sexually explicit material, promotion of self-harm, and discrimination are all prohibited. Users must also ensure they do not violate any laws through their use of the Services.

    Squarespace reserves the right to take action against any account or site that misuses the services, including content removal and account suspension or termination.

    What May Happen If You Sell Prohibited Items

    A stamp on a piece of paper saying "suspended"

    If you’re caught selling a prohibited product on any eCommerce platform like Magento, Wix, WooCommerce, Shopify, or Squarespace, it’s essential to understand the potential consequences. Each platform has its enforcement measures and policies, but generally, you can expect the following actions:

    1. Warning or Notification: Initially, you may receive a warning or notification from the platform informing you of the violation, which usually prompts you to remove the prohibited item and comply with the platform’s policies.
    2. Suspension of Listing or Service: If the prohibited item isn’t removed or repeated violations occur, the platform may suspend the specific listing or service related to the prohibited item, meaning the product will no longer be visible or available for customers.
    3. Account Suspension or Termination: In more severe cases, or if repeated violations occur, your entire account may be suspended or terminated, which can mean losing access to the platform, your storefront, and any associated services. Account termination is usually a last resort and indicates a serious or repeated breach of the platform’s policies.
    4. Legal Action: Selling prohibited items can sometimes have legal consequences, especially if the items are illegal or infringe on intellectual property rights. Platforms may report such activities to law enforcement or other relevant authorities, which could lead to legal action against you.
    5. Financial Consequences: You might be subject to financial penalties, such as fines or the forfeiture of earnings. Payment processors might also withhold funds or charge back the amount to the affected customers.
    6. Reputation Damage:Being caught selling prohibited items can damage your business reputation, not just on the platform but across your customer base, which can have long-term effects on your ability to sell online in the future.

    What Should You Do?

    • Immediate Compliance: If you’re notified of a violation, remove the prohibited item immediately and review your entire inventory to ensure no other items breach the platform’s policies.
    • Understand the Policies: Familiarize yourself with the platform’s policies and acceptable use guidelines, which can prevent accidental violations in the future.
    • Legal Consultation: In cases where the prohibited item might have legal implications, consider consulting with a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities.

    It’s crucial to approach eCommerce with an understanding and respect for each platform’s rules and regulations. Selling prohibited items, intentionally or accidentally, can have serious consequences for your business, so always err on the side of caution and compliance. Please note that this information is provided for general guidance only and should not be construed as legal advice.

    Where To Get eCommerce Assistance

    Whether utilizing Magento’s customization capabilities or adhering to Squarespace’s comprehensive Acceptable Use Policy, staying informed and compliant is your key to success. However, navigating these waters can be complex and time-consuming. That’s where Oyova comes in. As experts in Shopify development services, we’re here to help you build a robust, compliant, and successful online presence.

    Ready to elevate your eCommerce experience and ensure compliance with eCommerce platform-specific restrictions? Contact Oyova to explore our Shopify development services today. Let us help you navigate the complexities of online selling so you can confidently grow your business.





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