The European Commission has announced new proposed measures to ease the cross-border buying of goods and services. The proposals form part of the EU’s Digital Single Market agenda, which is designed to boost e-commerce by minimizing barriers to cross-border trade.
The measures address geoblocking and other forms of trade discrimination on the grounds of nationality, residence, or establishment. This means that rather than being forced to purchase goods or services at rates tailored for a specific location, buyers will be able to access offers or more favourable pricing available to those in other member states, except where prohibited by specific national or EU law.
The proposals also focus on improving the transparency and oversight of cross-border parcel delivery, a move designed to increase consumer and company confidence when making cross-border purchases of physical goods.
With European B2C e-commerce totalling 423.8 billion euros in 2014, these proposals will be welcomed by online sellers based in EU member states as well as those looking to break into the European market. It is also positive news for payments specialists: an increased number of transactions across a more diverse range of countries will help both traditional and alternative payment methods flourish. To maximize the impact of increased consumer confidence in cross-border shopping, online merchants would be well-advised to integrate all their most popular local payment methods. As a rule of thumb a merchant must offer 3 – 5 local payment methods to be able to reach 80% or more of a country’s e-commerce population.
It will, however, be some time before merchants start to feel the benefits of this move. The Commission’s proposals have to be transformed into legislation which will then be discussed by EU member states at national level before being enacted by the European Parliament- a process which takes years, rather than months.