Report: First Ecommerce Europe Worldwide Roundtable

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Ecommerce Europe launched the first Worldwide E-commerce Roundtable on Sunday 7 June in Barcelona, bringing together some of the biggest representatives of the e-commerce sector in the United States of America, Egypt, China and several countries in Europe. The directors of e-commerce associations from around the world discussed global and regional opportunities and challenges for online shopping.

“The e-commerce sector is global by definition”

The President of Ecommerce Europe, Mr. François Momboisse, welcomed the participants, including the National Retail Federation/Shop.org from the United States, Itida from Egypt and BECA and SCEA from China. He noted that: “It is a unique opportunity for Ecommerce Europe to bring so many representatives from around the world together and to discuss main challenges in the sector on a global level. The Internet knows no borders, and the e-commerce sector is therefore a global sector by definition. To facilitate further growth of the e-commerce sector it is essential that we work together and sustain an open international dialogue. As the European e-commerce sector we have a lot to offer to our peers in terms of our expertise, and a lot to learn from them regarding innovative capacity and policy solutions from around the world”.

European obstacles to cross-border e-commerce

All participants were invited to share what they consider to be solutions to their main issues – both on a regional and a national level – hampering the growth of the online retail sector. On a European level, today only 15% of European consumers shop online from another European country. Online merchants have significant room for economic gain if barriers to cross-border e-commerce are removed. The representatives of the 17 national member associations of Ecommerce Europe, which includes countries like Germany, France, Poland, Italy, and Denmark, confirmed that the top three barriers faced daily by online shops when doing business abroad are issues related to legal frameworks, logistics, and taxation/VAT. Other difficult barriers to overcome when selling abroad prove to be related to (online) payments, competition issues language, client relationships and marketing. These results are also to be found in the Ecommerce Europe survey “Barriers to Growth” (2015).

Global obstacles to cross-border e-commerce

The representatives from e-commerce associations in countries outside of Europe noted some trends which were similar to the European market developments. Platform e-commerce and price competition are big drivers of sales. And where the internet economy ranges from very developed like in the USA to less developed like in China and Egypt, all participants agreed that developing digital skills in the population is essential for the further growth of the sector as it is lacking behind globally everywhere. Another common feature mentioned by the global representatives was the willingness to buy and sell abroad: Online merchants are looking to the European market to invest, and consumers are looking to the European e-commerce sector to buy their products from.

Worldwide Roundtable a solid platform for cooperation

Many participants of the Worldwide Roundtable indicated that international negotiations on platforms such as the OECD and the UN on topics like global and bilateral trade issues, taxation policy, global marketplaces and competition need to lead to more convergence in the global e-commerce market. The participants proposed common recommendations to policy makers around the world to further stimulate global e-commerce. The first Worldwide E-commerce Roundtable forms a solid platform for future cooperation; the executives of the e-commerce associations at the table specifically stressed the need to work together in developing global interoperable frameworks for online sales.

Next steps

Ecommerce Europe remains in close contact with the executives from e-commerce associations around the world. Cooperation is sought on a adhoc basis, and established formally from time to time through events like the Ecommerce Europe Worldwide Roundtable.

The next Worldwide Roundtable is scheduled for June 2016, ahead of Ecommerce Europe’s Annual Conference. If you are interested in attending, please do not hesitate to contact Team Brussels.

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