Ecommerce Europe’s Secretary General, Mr. Luca Cassetti, recently participated in a webcast on e-Justice as an enabler for cross-border e-commerce in Europe, which was organised by the EU-funded e-CODEX project, with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. The event was an opportunity for Ecommerce Europe to share its views on the state of play of the European B2C e-commerce market, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, what barriers digital traders still experience when expanding cross-border and of course e-Justice and tools such as the Online Dispute Resolution platform.
Luca Cassetti provided some insights on the European e-commerce market. According to the last research report published by Ecommerce Europe in June 2020, it is expected that this year the European B2C ecommerce turnover will grow at 12,7 % and hit €717 billion. However, this forecast would need to be confirmed in 2021, when a full assessment of the impact of COVID-19 will be performed.
Looking closer at Europe, one can notice that this is a market of many differences, since the maturity of the different countries and the consumers’ habits can vary hugely. For instance, there is a clear contrast between Western and Eastern Europe, with the Western region having 70% market share of total B2C online turnover in Europe, while the Eastern region has only 1%. Although Eastern Europe accounts for only 1% of Europe’s B2C ecommerce spend, its turnover growth rate is highest of the five regions, at almost 27%, which means that opportunities are huge.
When asked about the most important trends in e-commerce, Luca Cassetti highlighted three main developments Ecommerce Europe is focusing on, namely the acceleration of the shift towards omnichannel commerce to provide a seamless shopping experience for consumers, the increased flow of non-compliant (e.g. unsafe) products coming from non-EU countries and the transition towards a more sustainable Europe, which has been already embraced by many e-commerce players, with innovative solutions such as recyclable/reusable packaging, green delivery, green warehouses and so on.
Besides these three main developments, COVID-19 is also a priority for Ecommerce Europe and its members. Luca Cassetti stressed that the pandemic is having a significant impact on the retail sector, especially brick-and-mortar. During the past months, e-commerce has proven to be crucial for the continuation of economic activities in Europe and for the functioning of the society during the pandemic, through sale and delivery of both non-essential and essential products. Thanks to the Internet and e-commerce, many offline businesses have managed to stay afloat during the confinement, especially when strict lockdown measures prevent them from opening their physical shops.
A part of the webcast was specifically dedicated to the issue of disputes between consumers and e-commerce businesses. When asked about what businesses are doing to solve or prevent legal disputes online, Luca Cassetti highlighted that serious retailers will always try to solve a problem in the best way possible for both parties, normally without the need to reach the level of a legal dispute. If the consumer is still not satisfied with the proposed solution, several national e-commerce associations also provide free mediation services for consumers when a consumer encounters a problem with a business member of the association. Of course, digital tools such as the ODR can greatly help in the field of dispute resolution, and Ecommerce Europe is participating in the Commission’s assessment of this platform.
Luca Cassetti concluded his contribution by mentioning that e-Justice can be an enabler for cross-border e-commerce in Europe as far as it helps build consumer trust in buying from another EU country, so that the consumer and the trader would feel and be more protected in case of disputes.
The recording of the webcast is accessible at this website.