eBay launch ‘Commerce 3’ opportunities roadmap

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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:

  1. Bring fast, affordable, reliable, accessible and transparent end-to-end, cross-border delivery services to market through pro-active public-private partnerships
  2. Simplifying, standardizing and end discrimination with regard to VAT and customs duties for electronically purchased goods from both EU and non-EU sellers
  3. Design “21st century trade agreements” that create simplicity and transparency for consumers and small merchants
  4. Promoting “mutual recognition” of other countries’ customs programs as a key instrument to facilitate international trade flows
  5. 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:

  1. Fast – 3-4 days anywhere to anywhere
  2. Affordable – Today cross-border prices are on average twice as high as domestic delivery costs
  3. Reliable – Delivery within 1 day of promise
  4. Accessible – Drop-off, pick-up, labels and information
  5. 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?

3 Responses

  1. This is mostly claptrap!

    Customs ‘procedures’ are irrelevant to EU member traders. Outside states should join! Ah sorry US – that is perhaps the real gist?

    But on a day when my basic small packets (RM) from UK to Europe have gone up by over 80% (and from which PayPal seem to get a further slice) then I ask eBay – how about some fee waivers for your ‘CBT’?

  2. This is a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.

    I agree the real VAT issue is with Channel Islands and Hong Kong type operations.

    Delivery to much of the EU is already 3-4 days anywhere.

    Slower countries tend to be the newer members who will no doubt get up to speed in due course.

    Tracking is a waste of space. Hardly ever requested when it is offered as an option, only looked at when something goes wrong, and overall rate of loss is actually minimal, so just costs the buyer more for no added value.

    HOWEVER : EU should be coming down like a ton of bricks on the 1 real renegade – Italy – appalling delivery speed, a higher rate of loss than the rest of the EU put together



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