The outbreak of the Coronavirus has had a significant impact on the retail sector these last months. In particular, e-commerce has proven to be pivotal for the continuation of economic activities across Europe. “Consumers have turned to e-commerce to continue accessing products while countries have implemented vital lockdown measures. Greater demand has led to strains on the supply chain and delivery channels, but has also opened the way for new solutions not always allowed in every country across the Union”, declared Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe.
Ecommerce Europe believes it is absolutely crucial to adopt a harmonized approach at EU level for the smooth deployment of new omnichannel solutions developed by brick-and-mortar shops of all sizes to address the COVID-19 outbreak. These retailers are for instance rapidly developing an online presence, transforming stores into fulfilment centres and offering safe contactless product deliveries at the consumer’s location or, where possible, contactless click-and-collect. The latter allows consumers to safely collect their order at a pick-up point, thanks to delivery teams loading the products in their vehicles without any contact. Any solutions like the above, allowing retailers to limit the number of customers in shops, facilitating social distancing, but also limiting interactions between employees and customers, will be key during the exit phase and can be fully embraced in the new normal era.
A harmonized EU approach, promoted by the European Commission, would allow traders to operate this type of omnichannel services across the Union as soon as possible. In these times of deep uncertainty, it is crucial for retailers to have clarity on the legality of their practices. However, solutions such as contactless click-and-collect and deliveries are not allowed in all EU countries, thus creating fragmentation, uncertainty, and placing a clear disadvantage on retailers in certain markets.
A PDF version of the press release is available here.