Age Restricted Products: Requirements for eCommerce
What Are Age Restricted Products?
Many eCommerce companies have age restrictions by law and must confirm that their potential buyers are of the legal age depending on the rules in their respective state or country. Therefore, non-compliance violations can have profound implications.
The law and customers hold the retailer responsible for selling age-restricted products only to customers within the allowed age. Selling age-restricted products to individuals under the legal age exposes the business and the seller to lawsuits, fines, loss of license, and sometimes prison time.
Age restrictions apply whether the retailer sells products in person or online. Therefore, it is impossible to shift blame to third parties, such as delivery services. Instead, it is the retailer's responsibility to implement age verification mechanisms. eCommerce sellers can verify age through various methods, such as age verification software and in-store pickups.
In this article:
ID Verification for Age Restricted Commerce
All around the world, countries have begun legislating age verification measures for certain products, such as alcohol and tobacco, and services like dating apps and gambling. In addition, it is a requirement for online retailers to verify users accurately, typically using online identity verification solutions.
Online pharmacies offer patients a good user experience. However, they also pose a significant risk—being accessed by underage users. Regulatory bodies require online pharmaceuticals to ensure their customers are of legal age to purchase prescription drugs. Online age checks are an essential measure that helps mitigate this risk and build trust with regulatory bodies.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco are globally regulated. For example, in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits selling cigarettes to underage people or alcohol to individuals under 21. These laws apply to online retailers as well as physical vendors. However, online vendors cannot use face-to-face ID checks and must implement digital age verification technology.
Learn more in our details guides to:
Age verification requirements differ depending on the business's jurisdiction and the product and service it sells. Compliance requires a comprehensive understanding of the relevant standards stipulated by regulators.
Typically, regulatory entities require accurate and quick age verification systems to maintain an audit trail. Therefore, the design needs to customize age verification requirements when offering purchases across several jurisdictions to meet cross-border regulations. It usually involves using automated procedures that can onboard customers from several regions.
Learn more in our detailed guide to the legal age for gambling
Online dating apps and websites offer extremely unfettered access, even though offenders using services have multiple cases of underage assaults over the years. The victims and assailants used services like Grindr and Tinder. Governments and regulators are pushing online dating services to implement adequate age checks. These services need to realize their responsibility in eliminating the harmful effects of underage usage of online dating services.
Many locations allow using cannabis for medicinal purposes, and in some parts of the world, it is legally allowed to use cannabis for recreation. For example, recreational cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, and it applies across the country. However, legalization is different in other places. Cannabis distribution is a highly regulated space with strict rules and procedures. Age restriction is the most consistent criterion required by these regulations, which prohibit underage use of cannabis.
Learn more in our detailed guide to cannabis age restrictions
Considerations Before Selecting an Age Verification Provider
Age Verification Also Requires Identity Verification
Organizations selling age-restricted products and facing strict compliance requirements need comprehensive age and identity verification solutions. Traditional "age gates," pop-ups that ask the user to provide their age voluntarily, are insufficient and do not meet legal requirements.
To truly verify the age of a buyer, you must have a comprehensive identity verification solution that can accept an ID document, identify the age that appears in the document, and also verify that the website visitor is indeed the owner of the ID document.
Avoid Unnecessary Features and Complexity
- What information do you need to verify the age and identity of your consumers?
- What services does your business require?
- What will be the steps involved in the verification process?
These are some vital questions that companies must answer when opting for the right verification solution.
In the gaming, alcohol, and tobacco industries, organizations only need an identity verification for age verification. Therefore, select a solution that provides only the features necessary to identify the age of a buyer reliably. Do not opt for additional ID verification features. Although banking and other industries may require additional data, but will only make the process more complex for your buyers.
Balance Security and User Experience
Ensuring a seamless user experience when authorizing your users' identity is often challenging. You must balance your organization's security needs with user experience requirements, such as not overburdening users with authorization challenges.
The value of the transaction is a significant factor in a buyer's patience - people are usually willing to spend more time going through ID checks if it's significantly large. Therefore, before you choose your security solutions, you must analyze the value of each service you provide and the likelihood of the users adapting their behavior (and expected user flow).
Use your identity verification solution to set thresholds - for example, to ensure a face recognition system only approves matches above a specified threshold. Providing the correct ID verification threshold is crucial - too low, and you increase the likelihood of false positives; too high, the system will reject suitable matches and damage the user experience.
When incorporating the verification solution, ensure each step maintains an adequate user experience and increases security. The user journey is ultimately the most critical factor determining whether users complete the process.
Age Verification with BlueCheck
Vendors need a solution that reliably and affordably verifies age with as few data points as possible. Age verification platforms that ask too few questions will result in a substantially greater rate of failed transactions. Conversely, platforms that ask too many questions deteriorate the user experience and often drive away users who would otherwise convert to a sale.
BlueCheck achieves this balance by combining a sleek, field-tested user interface with a robust verification engine that connects to a network of authoritative databases and credit bureaus. In addition, we partner with companies in various industries and growth stages to provide affordable, reliable online age verification. Learn more about how BlueCheck can help you solve your age verification challenges!