Choice in eCommerce: RSS Feeds Choice in eCommerce The ECJ Advocate General wants to make sales bans for selective distribution and luxury goods in eCommerce legal according to antitrust law 27. July 2017 - Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V. (BVOH) : Nils Wahl: Luxury brands are to be able to prohibit trading on marketplaces Manufacturers and brands can be allowed to restrict competition through a selective distribution system based on their luxury image. Nils Wahl, General Prosecutor at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), reported yesterday in his Opinion. In giving his preliminary Opinion, as is customary in ECJ proceedings, Wahl was referring to the current case of C-230/16 Coty Germany/Parfümerie Akzente. The ECJ has to clarify in this case whether the “luxury image” of a product can justify a selective distribution system and whether manufacturers can ban the sale of their goods via online marketplaces such as Amazon. Advocate General Wahl is of the opinion that manufacturers and brands may be allowed to restrict competition through a selective distribution system on the basis of a luxury image alone. As a result, a sweeping ban on the sale of luxury goods such as perfumery products on online marketplaces is permissible under certain conditions according to antitrust law. The Advocate General has left the situation for mass-market products open. Final clarity about the ECJ ruling is not expected for about six months. Fatal blow looms – Amazon and Nike threaten eCommerce 25. July 2017 - Choice in eCommerce : Manufacturers and brands are hampering the internal market – politicians must now act Comment by Oliver Prothmann, President Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V. (BVOH) and chairman Choice in eCommerce eCommerce is at a crossroads. This sounds somewhat dramatic and indeed it is meant to be; for in the worst-case scenario, eCommerce could tread the same path as the bricks and mortar retail trade: deadly boredom because of the same chains and manufacturer flagship stores, no variety and – not least – the annihilation of jobs and existences. But first let’s take a look to the past. It could have all been so great if things had gone according to the will of the internet pioneers more than a quarter of a century ago – yes, it really was that long ago. All people having access to all information, able to compare and browse – worldwide, needless to say. Everyone having access to everything in the global village, the global village full of happy people. Pricing structures are determined by competition and are transparent because of the comprehensive information available at all times. Everything is possible, everything is for sale, everything is available. A free market seemingly entirely possible. The EU also agreed to this deal, announcing their vision of a “digital single market” three years ago. €11 billion would be saved by consumers through free cross-border online shopping, promised the EU grandees. But this will probably come to nothing. Revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2) poses barrier to the digital single market 22. September 2016 - Choice in eCommerce : Lesser customer convenience and rising costs for online sellers risk DSM across Europe Today’s consumer is one of high standards. The grade of excellence in service, high quality products and fair prices determine the consumer’s choice of where to shop. “Shopping experience is one of the key words of the 21st century in the consumer world”, says Oliver Prothmann, spokesman of Choice in eCommerce. “Today’s consumer is used to convenience, especially when purchasing products and services online.” However, this convenience is at stake.   Following the adoption of the second Directive on Payment Services the European Banking Authority (EBA) has been mandated to issue secondary rules on payment security. Based on the draft EBA rules (published on August 12) consumers purchasing services and goods online will be forced to go through strict authentication procedures before being able to access and use their preferred online payment instrument. These requirements will apply also to mobile payments and – according to the EBA draft rules - regardless of the actual risk posed by the specific transaction or payment instrument. “No more will the payee check-out within one or two clicks but will undergo a cumbersome procedure of strong authentication which will makes online shopping inherently inconvenient”, notes Oliver Prothmann. Preliminary report of the EU sector inquiry identifies practices on online restrictions 15. September 2016 - Choice in eCommerce : Choice in eCommerce welcomes the results The interim report of the e-commerce sector inquiry presented today brings clarity on restrictions in online retailing The fact remains that there are still serious barriers within the desired single market: "The sector inquiry into e-commerce has succeeded in detecting and identifying the devastating effects of sales restrictions on small and medium sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) which are so important for the digital single market" Oliver Prothmann, President of the German Federal Association of eCommerce (BVOH) and spokesman of Choice in eCommerce says. In the interim report of the "sector inquiry into e-commerce", the EU Commission sets out an overview of the barriers faced. "The interim report of the sector inquiry detects what our survey has already implied. The report clearly shows the need of action as 50 per cent of small and medium-sized retail enterprises experience one or more restrictions and do not have the necessary economic muscle to move brand owners and manufacturers towards more practical business solutions." says Oliver Prothmann. In summer 2016, Choice in eCommerce carried out a Europe-wide survey in cooperation with the BVOH. More than 7,000 retailers participated and gave examples of a whole range of restrictions including marketplace bans. This means that seven times more merchants took part in this survey than in the sector inquiry. ECOMMERCE IN DANGER 6. July 2016 - Choice in eCommerce : New survey reveals that nearly 2,000 manufacturers restrict online sales in Europe BRUSSELS, July 6 - Nearly 2,000 brands – across industries ranging from fashion to electronics – prohibit or impede Internet sales in Europe, creating a major impediment to the spread of eCommerce, a survey published today shows. Berlin-based Federal Association of eCommerce (BVOH) questioned more than 7,000 small online merchants to gather its findings for its Choice in eCommerce initiative. Many fear the brand restriction threaten their existence. More than half of Europe’s online retailers complain about losing sales and a fifth say they lose more than a quarter of their sales each year due to the restrictions. The survey results can be found at “Consumers are significantly affected by sales restrictions, often paying significantly more for products than they would with a properly functioning competitive market,” says BVOH President Oliver Prothmann. “This should not be allowed to continue." BVOH is handing the survey results tomorrow in person to the European Commission Competition authority. It is also sending the survey results to over 800 members of both the European Parliament and German Bundestag. Under EU rules issued in 2010, brand owners seeking to protect their image and exclusivity can bar online retailers without bricks-and-mortar outlets from distributing their products under updated EU antitrust rules. But the European Commission said it would closely monitor developments and opened a sector inquiry last year. An important European Court of Justice case also will address the compatibility of online marketplace prohibitions with European competition law. The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court submitted a case to the highest European court dealing with a marketplace prohibition by the perfume manufacturer Coty (Case C-230/16). Some progress is visible. In the middle of 2014, Adidas reversed restrictions on trade affecting sports retailers after the German cartel office started investigations against it and fellow sportswear company Asics. Even so, today’s survey shows that brands are tightening sales restrictions. Due to unlawful pricing policy the retailer is not free to set their own sales prices; penalties are threatened if they fail to apply recommended retail prices. The manufacturer or the brand imposes marketplace bans that prohibit the retailer from using online marketplaces for the resale of products. The restrictions undermine Europe’s single market. Brands prohibit the retailer from selling the products internationally. They prohibit the retailer from placing their products onto price comparison portals or using the brand name in advertising. “The European Union promises to enable 'better access to goods and services' with its "Digital Single Market Strategy," Prothmann said. “But so far nothing has been done to counter the negative effects of vertical restraints although these are an intrinsic hindrance to internal market strategy.” BVOH estimates that more than 10,000 companies in Germany alone have already had to lay off employees because of the restrictions. The Choice in eCommerce initiative demands decisive action from politicians To make preventing vertical restrictions a central focus of the Digital Single Market strategy. To strengthen the competition authorities so that they can quickly take comprehensive and sustained action against illegal vertical restrictions. To work with member states to criminalise participation in hard-core cartels and other serious violations of competition. To facilitate the enforcement of compensation claims by affected enterprises and consumers. To work on the institutions of the European Union, so that the EU acts against vertical restrictions. To promote compliance with competition law in dialogue with industry manufacturers and brand owners. Therefore, we call on EU member states to take a position in the next weeks on the topic and to emphasise the relevance of online marketplaces for consumers and online retailers and to prohibit sales restrictions imposed by manufacturers and brands. Sales restrictions – these are the most common methods Due to unlawful pricing policy the retailer is not free to set their own sales prices; penalties are threatened if they fail to comply with specifications, e.g. by applying recommended retail prices. The manufacturer or the brand imposes marketplace bans which prohibit the retailer from using online marketplaces for the resale of products. Cross Border Trade blocking prohibits the retailer from selling the products internationally. Marketing activity blocking prohibits the retailer from placing their products onto price comparison portals or using the brand name in advertising. Refusal to supply is the refusal of the manufacturer to supply its range, either partially or in whole, to online retailers. Service deterioration means that consumers who acquire items online can expect poorer service – such as in the terms of the guarantee – than with products purchased over the counter.     3. Europe-wide Survey on Sales Restrictions in eCommerce /what-are-the-key-issues/3-europe-wide-survey-on-sales-bans-in-online-trade/ 4. December 2015 - Choice in eCommerce : This is the third Europe-wide survey on sales bans in online trade. With your replies you can shed light on the issue and show how restrictions and bans severely affect online sellers and consumers. There are only 15 questions, to which you can reply in a few minutes. If one question does not apply to you, just skip it. Thank you very much for your support. You can find the privacy policy at the bottom of the website. There are only a few questions, which should only take a few minutes of your time. Internet prohibitions prohibited – BVOH welcomes the long-awaited decision of the Federal Cartel Office against ASICS 27. August 2015 - BVOH - Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V. : BVOH: An important victory in the fight against restrictions on manufacturers The Federal Cartel Office in Germany makes it clear in a long-awaited decision: market place prohibitions and restrictions in e-commerce are illegal. The Cartel Office’s decision means that in future online traders can freely distribute their wares on online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay or Rakuten, or on price search engines. This statement by the authorities in Bonn completes an almost three year investigation with their ground-breaking decision. “This is a good decision, a major decision and a correct decision by the Federal Cartel Office. This will lead to greater legal certainty in e-commerce. Many German courts will now use this decision as a basis for future judgements. We have been working towards this for years”, says Oliver Prothmann, President of the Federal Association of E-commerce. (BVOH). EU sector inquiry into eCommerce begins 17. July 2015 - BVOH - Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V. : BVOH President Prothmann calls on all online retailers to participate In an sector inquiry, the EU Commission is questioning online retailers about “competition obstacles to eCommerce within European markets”. This week many online retailers in Germany, France and the United Kingdom have received this EU questionnaire. “We ask all those traders that have received this to join in and make their voices heard!” Here we have a unique opportunity to do something about obstacles and restrictions in eCommerce. The more extensive the information gathered, the more comprehensive EU action can be. If you have any questions, we at the BVOH are available”, says Oliver Prothmann, President of the Federal Association of eCommerce adidas changes its online strategy – Choice in eCommerce makes an impact 4. July 2014 - BVOH - Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V. : Public pressure has moved Germany's largest sporting goods manufacturer to change its contracts with online retailers Europe wide adidas AG will remove restrictive clauses from its contracts with online retailers. The pressure has become too large: More than 14,000 merchants have signed a petition of Initiative Choice in eCommerce, the media has reported extensively, courts throughout Germany prohibited restrictions on competition and the German Federal Cartel Office is carrying out investigations. In a circular to its dealers adidas has recently declared: "As a result of this development and as part of our new strategy, we have therefore decided in the future to allow the sale of our products on the open marketplaces, (...)." "We welcome this turnaround of the adidas management and are delighted for online traders. adidas is a major manufacturer with great products that many of our members sell on online marketplaces," says Oliver Prothmann, President of the German Federal Association Online-Trade (BVOH). With its strict clauses, adidas was a role model for the entire industry. These clauses banned or restricted the sale of adidas products on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay or Rakuten. This led to scrutiny by the German Federal Cartel Office in Bonn, whose investigations have not yet concluded. adidas abandons ban on sales via online market places 2. July 2014 - Bundeskartellamt Deutschland (German Cartel Office) : After extensive investigations at sporting goods manufacturers and German retailers, adidas was informally notified that its ban on sales via online market places and the restrictions imposed on authorised retailers with regard to search engine advertising gave cause for serious competition concerns. In response to this, adidas submitted an amended version of its conditions of sale for e-commerce, in which it has completely abandoned its ban on sales via online market places. It also clarified that all authorised retailers are free to use adidas brand related terms as search words for search engine advertising such as Google AdWords. Bundeskartellamt takes a critical view of restriction of online distribution by ASICS 28. April 2014 - Bundeskartellamt Deutschland (German Cartel Office) : The Bundeskartellamt criticizes in particular that the dealers are prohibited without exception from using online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon. The authority also objects to ASICS prohibiting its dealers from supporting price comparison engines. ASICS does not allow its distributors to use its brand names on the websites of third parties, not even to guide customers to the online shop of an authorised ASICS dealer. The Bundeskartellamt views each of these three prohibitions as an inadmissible hardcore restriction. Taken together they constitute a de facto ban on internet distribution. More than 14,000 small businesses advocate for free online trade 17. December 2013 - Choice in eCommerce : ‘Choice in eCommerce’, the Initiative of Choice and Innovation in Online-Trade, today handed over a petition signed by more than 14,000 online sellers from all over Europe to Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission at a high-level breakfast event in Brussels on “Restoring competitiveness in Europe - the role of a functioning Digital Single Market for SMEs”. The petition calls on manufacturers and brand owners to refrain from imposing sales restrictions or prohibitions on online traders. Several manufacturers are prohibiting online sellers from freely using the internet, e.g. to sell their goods through online marketplaces. Antitrust: EU-Commission confirms inspections relating to potential restrictions on online sales 3. December 2013 - EU-Commission : The European Commission can confirm that on 3 December 2013, Commission officials initiated unannounced inspections in several Member States at the premises of a number of companies active in the manufacture, distribution and retail of consumer electronics products and small domestic appliances. The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - TFEU). We will soon head to Brussels! – Last chance to take part in the petition and survey 27. November 2013 - Choice in eCommerce : Mid-December, we will hand over our “Petition for choice and innovation in eCommerce” to the European Commission in Brussels. Indeed, the time has come to take this next step and we need your help to reach it. Until 30 November 2013, you and your colleagues still have the possibility to take part in our survey about sales restrictions in eCommerce and tell us if you, or your freedom as an entrepreneur, are personally impacted by these restrictions, and how.Any additional participation in this substantial survey, as well as any additional signature to our petition, will help fight against trade restrictions.The more sellers participate in the survey, the more representative and hence meaningful the outcome will be, which we also want to present to policy makers in Brussels and to the media.Please take a few minutes of your time to reply to our questions online. go to surveyPlease forward this email to your contacts as every participant counts. Let us continue to promote the initiative together!It is up to us to make it a success so seize this opportunity to be part of it!Thank you very much!And, we are only a few friends away from 1,000 likes on our Facebook page. You can also support us there. First Europe-wide survey on sales bans online 11. October 2013 - Choice in eCommerce : The first Europe-wide survey on sales bans in online-trade is online. With your replies you can shed light on the issue and show how restrictions and bans severely affect online sellers and consumers. There are only 20 questions, to which you can reply in a few minutes. Choice in eCommerce Interview 21. September 2013 - WebRetailer : Web Retailer had the chance recently to catch up with Oliver Prothmann about his Choice in eCommerce initiative, which seeks to stop manufactures and brand owners blocking sales of their products on eBay and other online marketplaces. Berlin Court bans eBay ban 20. September 2013 - Tamebay : A manufacturer of luggage (branded as Scout Heavy Duty Luggage) has been prohibited from banning an online merchant from selling their products on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. The Kammergericht, the highest court in Berlin, has decreed: “The Scout manufacturers Sternjakob may not prohibit a Berlin merchant from selling their products on eBay or Amazon”. The merchant fought for years against the protectionism of the Scout manufacturer and had already won the first round in 2009, before commencement of the appeals procedure. The Berlin court order roughly translates as “The manufacturer Alfred Sternjakob GmbH & Co. KG must fulfil orders made by the online retailer in particular the Scout and 4You brands and must not make supply it a condition that the retailer can’t sell the goods on eBay or other marketplaces such as Amazon”. Choice in eCommerce Campaigns for Resale Rights 6. September 2013 - WebRetailer : A European campaign group is seeking to prevent brand manufacturers from limiting the sale and resale of their products online. Choice in eCommerce is seeking "a political and legal situation where sales bans on online platforms are not tolerated" and is asking sellers to sign a petition in support. The initiative was founded by Oliver Prothmann of chartixx and is supported by Linnworks. Sellers Choice in eCommerce 4. September 2013 - Linn Systems : A collaboration of independent sellers have recently kick started an independent initiative – ‘Choice in eCommerce’. The project has been designed to campaign against platform bans and to fight unilateral bans that some brands are using to prevent their authorised sellers from retailing their products via online marketplaces such as eBay & Amazon. As an online retailer, these bans will be detrimental to you, your customers and most importantly eCommerce as a whole! Online retailers prepare to fight the sales ban 9. August 2013 - Trusted Shops : Online retailers are up in arms over the Internet sales ban imposed by certain branded manufacturers. The “Choice in eCommerce” initiative, which formed on the Internet, aims to overturn these bans with a petition. The petition will be forwarded to both federal ministries and the EU Commission, Oliver Prothmann, the initiative’s spokesman said. "Ban the ban" – Thousands of online sellers sign petition for free trade on the internet 1. August 2013 - Choice in eCommerce : Berlin, 1st August 2013 – An increasing number of online sellers support the “Choice in eCommerce” petition for free and fair trade. In just two weeks around 5,000 people have signed the petition online and every day there are more. By signing the petition these online sellers are mobilising across Europe against the online sales bans imposed by some manufacturers. Small and medium-sized sellers on online marketplaces are particularly affected by these constraints, a fact sadly shown by recent cases of bankruptcy. eBay lobbies to ban sales restrictions 26. July 2013 - toyworld : eBay has begun lobbying independent retailers to help ban the practice of suppliers restricting the sale of their toys on third party websites. The online retailer has begun sending a letter to retailers selling on its site, which encourages them to back the Choice in Ecommerce campaign, and sign a petition. Last week saw the end of an era with me and one of my suppliers 23. July 2013 - The newroomsonline blog (eBay Seller) : It’s been a hard slog doing business with them. On the one hand they have one of the most fabulous ranges of giftware on the market, on the other, they are the most difficult, unreasonable and non-customer focused company I’ve ever come across, retail or otherwise. Petition for Choice in Ecommerce 16. July 2013 - Tamebay : Some manufacturers have started to restrict trade on the Internet, for example using contract terms to prevent merchants from selling their goods on Online-Marketplaces. A group of online entrepreneurs, led by Oliver Prothmann founder of chartixx, have launched Choice in Ecommerce, a petition to defend themselves against these restrictions and make sure that ecommerce remains a free and fair place for all types of businesses. Online sellers want to end platform sales bans 16. July 2013 - Choice in eCommerce : People want to shop in places they like and trust, and European consumers can save about €11.7 billion a year thanks to online shopping. Some manufacturers have started to restrict trade on the Internet, for example using contract terms to prevent merchants from selling their goods on Online-Marketplaces. A group of online entrepreneurs have launched a petition to defend themselves against these restrictions that harm their businesses and consumers, and make sure that eCommerce remains a free and fair place for all types of businesses. BigJigs respond to cutting Internet only supply 2. July 2013 - Tamebay : Following our post about toy manufacturers cutting supply to ecommerce merchants, George from BigJigs has been in touch. Whilst we’re not wholly in favour of everything he had to say, we think it only fair that he should have a chance to respond to our thoughts. Toy manufacturers cut supply to marketplaces 25. June 2013 - Tamebay : They’re still available for sale on marketplace, but not for much longer, not because they don’t make a perfect gift but because the manufacturer BigJigs Toys Ltd has decided to cut off retailers who sell on marketplaces. European Parliament Defends Retailers’ Right to Sell on Online Platforms 13. June 2013 - eBay Mainstreet : On 12 June, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy, telling the European Commission and national competition authorities what it believes to be the priorities under competition law. One such priority is safeguarding the ability of distributors to use innovative distribution methods such as online platforms. European Parliament resolution of 12 June 2013 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy (2012/2306(INI)) 12. June 2013 - European Parliament : 72. Calls on the Commission to ensure a fair balance of bargaining power between manufacturers and distributors, while emphasising the following: the importance of combating discriminatory practices in the field of online distribution as governed by the Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (Commission Regulation 330/2010), so as to safeguard the ability of distributors to use innovative distribution methods such as online platforms and to reach a greater number and variety of customers Why Other Brands Might Follow Adidas off eBay and Amazon 10. May 2013 - eCommerce Bytes : When Adidas confirmed that it was pulling its merchandise from online marketplaces, many in the ecommerce community were taken aback. After all, here was an internationally recognized brand cutting off distribution across some of the most prominent - and fastest growing - channels. E-commerce startups 15. October 2012 - Chris Dixon : Very few successful e-commerce companies were started in the 2000s. Since then, e-commerce startups have enjoyed a revival. Dozens of companies have gotten traction and venture dollars have followed. Phrases like flash sales, social commerce, and subscription commerce have entered the startup lexicon. Adidas clarify marketplace policy for 2013 8. July 2012 - Tamebay : Adidas have responded to Tamebay with more information regarding the news that they will ban retailers from selling Adidas and Reebok products on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon from January 2013. What Do You Think of the Adidas Ban on eBay and Amazon? 5. July 2012 - eCommerce Bytes : Adidas announced it will ban its dealers from listing its products on marketplaces eBay and Amazon starting in January 2013. As reported in this EcommerceBytes article, part of the problem seems to be a brand's lack of control over the customer buying experience on these large marketplaces, and a downward pressure on price. Adidas Confirms Global Ban on eBay and Amazon Marketplaces 18. June 2012 - eCommerce Bytes : Adidas has confirmed it has instituted a global policy banning dealers from listing products on the eBay and marketplaces. Adidas spokesperson Michael Ehrlich told EcommerceBytes the change is part of its global customer and range segmentation strategy and that it would be rolled out globally.