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10 recommendations for better ecommerce industry in Europe

This week, the European elections take place between 23 to 26 May, in a time where Brexit and the growth of euroscepticism are hot topics.

Pan-European ecommerce association Ecommerce Europe want a level-playing field for the Digital Single Market and gives 10 recommendations for a better ecommerce industry in Europe. Because, as they put it: “Now more than ever, the decision taken by EU policymakers will determine the success of European online retailers globally.” The Problem:

There isn’t a European or global level-playing field in the ecommerce space. The ecommerce association thinks it’s a major challenge for ecommerce in Europe that there isn’t a European or global level-playing field. “There’s possible unfair competition from players often based outside the European Union. But ecommerce doesn’t stop at the border of the European Union, it is a global phenomenon.” In simple terms, EU consumers can reach products at a better price/cost than within the EU’s ecommerce market, bypassing regulatory laws.

This is why Ecommerce Europe thinks the European Union should continue working towards a global regulatory level-playing field for ecommerce and here’s how they prioritised their top 10 strategic initiatives. 

1. Find a global solution for the taxation of the digital economy

“The taxation system should ensure a level-playing field so that companies are taxed in a fair, non-discriminatory way and with channel neutral method. Thus, EU leaders should push in favor of international efforts and end the discussions around the introduction of unilateral solutions at EU or national level.” Just like PCI compliance, a strategy to ensure a fair system needs definition, execution and verification. 

2. Facilitate a transparent and fair parcel delivery system

“Current parcel streams are ill-fitted to accommodate global ecommerce. The postal channel became the facilitator of counterfeiting, VAT and customs fraud. Policymakers shall introduce mandatory traceability for all parcels delivered by any operator, a prerequisite for all functional Digital Single Market.” Leadership in logistics will be a difficult task, yet we must strive for this goal so as to drive efficiencies in delivery and cost reduction for all. 

3. Safeguard a fair business environment online

“Ecommerce marketplaces are without doubt engines of European growth. The EU needs to find the right balance between their interests and the interests of online merchants, especially smaller ones, which depend even more on marketplaces.” With the ecommerce landscape being a more level playing field, the smaller players engaged in this channel have a greater presence and will be more competitive. This in turn drives greater diversity in the marketplace, where in turn keeps small businesses to be a larger part of the employment pool, and keeping the economy balanced. 

4. Create simple harmonized rules and better enforcement

“Current regulations are too complicated to be understood for both consumers and businesses, specifically SMEs. But simple rules mean easier and better compliance for online merchants.” Keep it Simple is the drive – yet, regulatory is complex due to many types of classifications of products, various tariffs, and logistic choices. 

5. Create channel-neutral regulations

“The EU should create channel-neutral regulations. A shop should be able to easily offer different sales combinations without any unreasonable legislative burdens for traders.” While it is easier said than done, it is our belief that this is key to unlock the EU ecommerce space for global competition and to thrive in its economy. 

6. Enforce adequate safeguards for online shopping

“Policymakers need to ensure that adequate safeguards against cyberattacks, fraud or unsafe products are implemented to maintain trust. Keep monitoring the evolution of fraud in online payments, but don’t develop too much red tape and hamper innovation.” This is a difficult problem to approach, it would require an oversight team all the while combatting the dark web’s illegal activities. While Policies work for law abiding storekeepers, there is a significant space where there are illicit activities being traded without knowledge/oversight of any agency. 

7. Build an innovative and competitive cross-border payment landscape

“To foster cross-border trade, interoperability between payment systems of Member States is essential. There should be an integral approach to the payment systems market.” While payment systems continue to evolve and gain greater technological ease of use, banking/legal/systems/processes stand in the way of interoperability between payment systems, which is a complex problem to solve. Only through leadership, reform and facilitation this can be accomplished. 

8. Boost innovation and the uptake of new technologies

“The EU is still lagging behind compared to its competitors in the development of technologies such as AI and block-chain. They need to boost financial support for companies developing these technologies.” Not just boosting support, but engaging with them at a strategic level, leading the way to ensure that coordination and product implementation occur to impact the EU ecommerce sector. 

9. Allocate the necessary resources for Digital Education

“There is an acute need for human resources with digital skills. The EU needs to invest in and promote digital skills starting from early education and through life-long learning programs.” “Learn-to-code” has been thrown around in social media in the recent past, joking aside, as we continue to forge ahead in  the digital technological front (using smart-phones, tablets, etc.), it requires all of society to engage at all levels with today’s tools. 

10. Boost connectivity across Europe

“Some areas of the European Union are still left behind. Delivering parcels in these areas is challenging and shopping and selling online prove to be difficult due to poor internet connectivity. Europe needs to allocate substantial resources to improve transport infrastructure and fast internet connectivity.” Being in the “old world” is harder to modernize than outlay new infrastructure on a virgin territory. Local communities are fragmented in coordinating large infrastructure projects, which is why this item is in our top 10 list of musthave’s. 

 

Source: ecommerce Europe PDF: https://www.ecommerce-europe.eu/wpcontent/uploads/2019/03/A-level-playing-field-for-the-Digital-Single-Market.pdf  Tags: ecommerce, Europe