European Commission: cross-border ecommerce potential in Europe yet to be unlocked

October 2015
Powered by The Paypers | E-Commerce

Cross-border ecommerce is still an under-developed market in Europe, according to the 2015 edition of the Consumer Scoreboard published by the European Commission.

Research indicates that 61% of consumers feel more confident buying online from their own country (61%) than from another EU country (38%). The Consumer Scoreboard which focuses on The Digital Single Market also found that the lack of trust, territorial restrictions and price discrimination are still barriers to cross-border ecommerce.

The main findings of the Scoreboard are:

Consumers buying across borders still face many problems, especially with regard to delivery and product conformity. Moreover, consumers continue to face restrictions and price discrimination due to their country of residence in cross-border transactions. These issues also account for the majority of complaints about cross-border ecommerce received by European Consumer Centres.

Further awareness-raising on consumer rights is needed. Consumers' and retailers' awareness of some key consumer rights guaranteed by the EU legislation remains limited. Only 9% of consumers were able to answer correctly when asked about their rights, with the lowest levels of knowledge found among young people.

Further development of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) promises more effective consumer redress. A quarter of all consumers encountering problems do not complain. The majority of consumers who did not take any action in case of a problem were discouraged by the perceived difficulties (e.g. low likelihood of success, lack of information, length of procedure). Satisfaction with complaint handling is highest amongst those consumers who complained to ADR bodies, even though the use and knowledge of these bodies are still relatively low.

Trust in product safety has been relatively stable over the years, with retailers consistently having more positive views than consumers (69% of consumers and 75% of retailers agreed that most non-food products on the market are safe).

The Commission will put forward a proposal before the end of 2015 to make cross-border ecommerce easier in the framework of the Digital Single Market. It will include EU-wide rules on contracts and consumer protection for online purchases.

The Scoreboard is a regular report that monitors the integration of the EU internal retail market from the consumer perspective and tracks the quality of the national consumer environment.

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