Despite continued strong growth, the e-commerce industry is being hampered across Europe by persistent barriers to cross-border trade, according to a new report from the European Commission.
The report, Barriers to E-commerce in the EU, identified a strong potential for cross-border trade, with a third of citizens saying that they would consider buying a product or a service online from another member state because it might be cheaper or better, for example.
In addition, a third of European Union (EU) consumers said that they are willing to purchase goods and services in another language, while 59 per cent of retailers are prepared to carry out transactions in more than one language, according to the report.
However, while the proportion of online shoppers in the EU increased from 27 to 33 per cent of all consumers from 2006 to 2008, cross-border e-commerce remained stable. Only seven per cent of consumers currently buy online from other member states.
"Consumers have everything to gain from the internet. Already 150 million consumers shop online, although only 30 million shop online cross-border," said EU consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva on presenting the report.
"We must see to it that adoption of the internet platform will not be unnecessarily slowed down by a failure to remove important regulatory barriers, or to address important trust issues for consumers."
The report found that language and regulatory issues, including consumer law, VAT rules, selective distribution law and intellectual property protection, were the main barriers to cross-border online trade.
There is also a perception that delivery, complaints and refund issues could deter consumers and traders from pan-European e-commerce.
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