At the European Parliament today eBay launched a new roadmap to highlight the economic opportunities of what they’re calling “Commerce 3.0” for Europe. At an event hosted by Cecilia Wikström MEP, eBay said that Commerce 3.0 will empower consumers and merchants thus driving economic growth and facilitate entrepreneurship putting merchants of all sizes on a more equal footing.
If I buy a necklace online but have to wait days or perhaps weeks before I can wear it, e-commerce will lose its charm. Through better cross-border parcel delivery services, simplified VAT and streamlined customs procedures SMEs would be able to expand their businesses, even outside of the EU, and European consumers would enjoy real choice. The increased trade would take us out of the economic crisis faster.
– Cecilia Wikström MEP
eBay’s roadmap called “Towards Commerce 3.0: Roadmap for Building Sustainable Growth into Commerce” (opens in .pdf), calls on the European Union to show global leadership by:
- Bring fast, affordable, reliable, accessible and transparent end-to-end, cross-border delivery services to market through pro-active public-private partnerships
- Simplifying, standardizing and end discrimination with regard to VAT and customs duties for electronically purchased goods from both EU and non-EU sellers
- Design “21st century trade agreements” that create simplicity and transparency for consumers and small merchants
- Promoting “mutual recognition” of other countries’ customs programs as a key instrument to facilitate international trade flows
- Adopting a new policy-making mindset towards technology and information society services that embraces experimentation and innovation
For me personally the first three points are some of the biggest hurdles to easy cross border trade. If the EU could assist putting in place reliable courier services at a reasonably cost effective price this would make such a difference to most merchants. It’s not just the ability to ship to a customer either, the ability to accept returns from across the whole of Europe is an even harder shipping problem to solve.
eBay’s proposed EU Parcels Policy would meet five key criteria:
- Fast – 3-4 days anywhere to anywhere
- Affordable – Today cross-border prices are on average twice as high as domestic delivery costs
- Reliable – Delivery within 1 day of promise
- Accessible – Drop-off, pick-up, labels and information
- Transparent – End-to-end shipment tracking with standardised returns
Standardising VAT customs duty and trading terms and conditions would simplify trade considerably as well as making it easier for consumers to know the price they’d pay (including taxes) and their rights such as warranties and returns rights. Buyers need to know that if they need to that they can get their money back and importantly sellers also need to know under what circumstances they need to accept returns and refund buyers.
So that’s what eBay think, but how does it marry with your personal experiences? What are the biggest cross border trade pain points for you (either as a buyer or as a seller)? Which countries are easiest to trade with and which cause the most problems?