European legislators: lack of trust in cross-border e-commerce

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Representatives from the European Parliament and the Commission discussed many of Ecommerce Europe’s concerns during a recent debate on consumers’ lack of trust as one of the barriers hampering the development of online businesses selling goods and/or services cross-border. This debate was part of the discussions that European policy makers hold ahead of the launch in May of the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market. E-commerce is among the top priorities of the European Commission’s strategy.

Lack of trust: a “huge part of the problem”
Mina Andreeva, Deputy Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission in charge of Digital Single Market, reaffirmed that it is top priority of the Commission to break down remaining barriers in this sector especially the lack of trust in online shopping. The spokesperson of the Commission declared that this lack represents a huge obstacle to the development of the e-commerce, as only 12% of the consumers buy cross-border when shopping online. This means that there is still a huge potential that could be exploited, considering also that 19% of internet users are not using internet to shop online for security concerns, the spokesperson declared. Completing the Digital Single Market will be beneficial for online merchants and consumers, as it will ease cross-border selling.

Ecommerce Europe shares the same security concerns of the Commission and has been developing a pan-European trustmark for the e-commerce sector to foster trust. Once launched, consumers shopping online will be immediately informed whether shops comply with objective standards, thanks to an eye-catching label showed on their website.

More harmonized rules mean savings for smaller online merchants
The Commission is also aware that starting to sell cross-border can be very costly for small and medium online merchants. A small shop willing to sell cross-border could attend at least € 2,000 of expenses per market only to adapt the contract and the website, according to the Commission’s spokesperson. The Commission is therefore working for reducing this huge transaction costs.

Investment plans to help smaller businesses
The European Commission believes that apart from breaking down regulatory barriers, it is necessary to enable investments for the development of small and medium online shops. The investment plan launched by Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker also contributes to small and medium enterprises if they have viable projects notably in digital areas. In this case, online businesses can apply and get funding from the European strategic fund for investments.

Next steps
European Commission’s Vice-President Andrus Ansip will launch a new digital strategy in May to complete the Digital Single Market. Ecommerce Europe stays closely in contact with the European institutions to ensure the interests of the e-commerce industry are taken into account.

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