What is the Facebook company selling

Selling goods on Facebook

Goods can not only be sold via an independent web shop with its own shop system or via an eBay shop or Amazon Marketplace, but also via Facebook. Whether as the sole or additional sales channel, Facebook can serve as a sales platform for smaller retailers in particular. Goods can be sold without great effort by means of individual communication with customers. In this article, the IT law firm explains which legal peculiarities need to be observed.

I. Selling on Facebook

In addition to shop systems such as eBay or Amazon Marketplace, selling via Facebook has also been enjoying growing popularity recently. Facebook can be used by sellers as a sales platform in various ways. Regardless of the mode of sale, commercial sellers must comply with the mandatory statutory provisions, in particular the consumer protection regulations, which are primarily associated with a number of information obligations.

II. There are many ways to sell on Facebook

Sellers can use Facebook to sell goods in a number of different ways. A lot is possible, from using Facebook as a mere advertising platform to direct sales via the Facebook shop system:

  • Link to your own webshop: No real sale on Facebook is a mere link to your own webshop that is run independently from Facebook. Many companies have so far used Facebook in this way as a pure advertising platform and refer to their own webshop via a link to buy their goods.
  • Presentation of the range of goods including prices and links to your own web shop: Another form of selling goods using Facebook is the inclusion of the entire range of goods, or at least a part, including product descriptions and final prices, in the company's own Facebook presence without the customer having to end up buying the product can buy directly on Facebook. In this case, the customer can see the range and view the individual goods, but cannot place them in a shopping cart. If he wants to buy goods, he has to click on a link that takes him to the corresponding product page in the company's own web shop, which is independent of Facebook. As a result, there is no direct sale via Facebook either.
  • Embedded webshop: The integration of the company's own webshop into a frame of the company's Facebook presence via an embedded link is also not sold directly on Facebook. From a technical point of view, the customer does not buy via Facebook or a Facebook shop system, but directly in the company's web shop.
  • Facebook shop system: Following the example of Amazon Marketplace or eBay, Facebook is also striving for a flourishing trade via a company's own shop system, which should be able to serve retailers as a sole or additional sales platform. So far, however, Facebook shops of this type are not particularly widespread.
  • Facebook Marketplace: In 2016, Facebook launched a platform in some countries, such as the USA, with Facebook Marketplace, which, like eBay classifieds, can be used to conduct local business among private individuals. This system has not yet been introduced in Germany. Since this sales platform is aimed primarily at private individuals who can use it to give away or sell used furniture, clothing or cars, and thus less so to commercial sellers, Facebook Marketplace does not (yet) play a major role in terms of consumer protection law.
  • Selling by means of individual communication via Facebook: Finally, companies can present their range of goods on Facebook and conclude contracts with customers by means of individual communication by e-mail ("send message" or "send message to seller"), i.e. without a shop system that the Automated order processing takes over. This is often particularly interesting for smaller commercial salespeople who do not want to and are unable to make a particularly large effort to sell a few products or quantities.

The following now focuses on the legal framework for sales by means of individual communication via Facebook.

III. Special features when concluding a contract via Facebook

As a communication platform, Facebook is basically nothing else than a catalog order via email or an order via email based on an advertising flyer. The seller presents goods on Facebook as in a catalog or on an advertising flyer, which customers can order bindingly by e-mail (fax or letter).

If the seller is an entrepreneur within the meaning of Section 14 of the German Civil Code (BGB), he is subject to mandatory consumer protection law and must inform the customer in good time and in the correct form about the right of withdrawal that the customer is entitled to if this is a consumer within the meaning of Section 13 of the German Civil Code.

For this purpose, according to § 312d Abs. 1 BGB in conjunction with § 246a § 4 Abs. 1, Abs. 3 EGBGB in advance on Facebook, the retailer must provide prominent, clear and understandable information about the consumer right of withdrawal, so that the consumer receives the necessary information, before you place your binding order. This can be done, for example, by the retailer referring to the consumer right of withdrawal including a sample withdrawal form at the beginning of each chronicle entry on his Facebook page with a short text (as well as, if applicable, to the terms and conditions and the privacy policy) and at the same time a link to a Subpage on which the full text of the cancellation policy including a sample cancellation form can be called up.

The same applies to the terms and conditions and the data protection declaration. Because in order for the general terms and conditions of the dealer to become part of the contract, the dealer must expressly refer to them in accordance with Section 305 (2) BGB, provide the customer with a reasonable opportunity to take note of them and obtain the customer's consent to the validity of the general terms and conditions.

IV. Other legal requirements

In addition, the same legal regulations apply to the commercial sale of goods on Facebook that apply to retailers who operate their own web shop. This includes, for example, the imprint obligation, possibly other (product) information obligations (depending on which product is sold) and the Price Indication Ordinance (PAngV).

According to Section 1 (1) PAngV, retailers must indicate total prices that already include VAT. In addition, in accordance with Section 1 (1) PAngV, they must point out that the prices quoted already include value added tax; this notice must be visible to customers before they can (or can) submit an order. However, if a trader is a small business owner and therefore not subject to sales tax, these obligations do not apply. If shipping costs are incurred, this circumstance and, if possible, their expected amount must also be stated in accordance with Section 1 (2) sentence 1 no.

V. Conclusion

The sale of goods on Facebook by means of individual communication with customers is a (further) sales channel. There are hardly any legal peculiarities to other sales of goods on the Internet. Only the implementation of some legal requirements in the course of the conclusion of the sales contract with the customer may require adjustments due to the technical conditions of the Facebook platform, for example with regard to the inclusion of general terms and conditions and the statutory information obligations with regard to the consumer right of withdrawal. As a result, however, these do not cause any difficulties.

If you have any problems, queries or other questions on this topic, the team at the IT law firm will of course be happy to help you personally and in individual cases.

tip: Do you have any questions about the contribution? Feel free to discuss this with us in the entrepreneurial group of the IT law firm on Facebook.

Daniel Huber
(freelance legal employee of the IT law firm)