The European Union (EU) consumer commissioner has once again stressed the importance of cross-border e-commerce, after a new EU study released today found that 60 per cent of cross border internet shopping orders are refused.
Meglena Kuneva said that, despite the opportunities for consumers in Europe-wide shopping, very few actually take advantage of it. She blamed much of this on retailers, and recommended a number of changes.
"The internet presents an enormous opportunity for consumers. Already 150 million EU citizens - a third of our population - shop over the internet. But today, despite the opportunity granted by technology to trade across borders, online markets remain largely fragmented along national lines," she said.
"Only seven per cent of people shop online cross-border and, although 50 per cent of European retailers are online, only 21 per cent sell in other Member States."
Some of the main reasons for cross border transactions failing to complete is that the trader does not ship the product to their country or doesn't offer adequate means for cross border payment, according to the new study.
Kuneva claimed that sales of computing and electronic equipment are prevented in eight out of 10 attempts.
"As we stand today, we cannot shop cross-border online within the EU. There is no European retail market online but instead 27 inefficient mini-markets," Kuneva said.
"We have the technology for a big market, but not the trade. And this is generating a lot of frustration among European citizens who expect and deserve better."
In order to help shoppers and retailers, Kuneva is suggesting that the EU draws up a single set of rules governing the rights of UK shoppers, adding that this would mean equal protection for consumers, while also lowering the cost of regulatory compliance for retailers.
The commissioner also believes that more firms should take on the .eu domain suffix, and create Europe-wide, rather than individual country, web sites.
"A lot needs to be done. But Europe cannot afford to miss the train of e-commerce," she concluded.
"Trade online will not only provide immense opportunities for businesses and citizens alike, but provide a dynamic platform for innovation, economic participation and jobs."
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