On December 2, 2015 the European consumer organization for standardization ANEC released a study on online shopping behavior of EU consumers entitled: “European cross-border online shopping - Learning from consumer experiences”. Despite previous efforts of the European Commission to facilitate EU-wide e-commerce the study reveals that in practice substantial barriers still prevent consumers to fully benefit from a free flow of goods through online services across Europe.
In order to identify the key problems for consumers in cross-border online shopping, ANEC surveyed 4,135 consumers from 22 different EU countries between July and August this year. The report delivers the following key results:
- 10% of EU consumers regularly (once a month or more) shop online from other EU countries, but the majority of 63% still prefers to buy from domestic Internet retailers.
- 15% of the surveyed online shoppers, who bought cross-border, reported about transaction problems as late or non-deliveries.
- Problems occurred e.g. when placing orders or due to general uncertainties, with regard to unfair price differences, unclear or misleading information or refusals of retailers to sell or deliver to the address of the shopper.
- any consumers are unsure of their rights and responsibilities in online shopping and report a low degree of satisfaction with complaint handling by online retailers.
Generally, these study results imply that consumers are left with a negative perception of online shopping and are discouraged from future online purchases across EU borders. Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General, commented on the study as follows: “Our new study shows both consumers and retailers need to achieve a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities if cross-border e-commerce is to reach its full potential.”