The Policy Issues
eCommerce has become an essential part of total trade. It drives growth in European and global economies. It promotes the interests of consumers thanks to an unparalleled selection of products and services with transparent information, offers and prices. It inspires technical innovation, such as mobile commerce.
These positive elements of eCommerce have to be preserved, and strengthened, for the benefit of sellers, manufacturers and consumers alike, but today they are under threat
- A growing number of brand owners and manufacturers are restricting Internet trade, for example using contract terms to stop sellers from selling goods on Internet marketplaces.
- Increasingly, sales via online marketplaces and other websites are being prevented of everyday stuff, like kids’ toys and electronics, even lawnmowers and pushchairs, even if they are genuine, second-hand or new.
- The justification from those imposing the bans is that they want the best possible Internet presentation for any of their goods sold on the Internet, which means limiting where their goods can be sold. But blanket bans, not just of initial sales but all sales, are a step too far and there is no justification for onerous sales conditions or demands that internet retailers must have an offline retail store before they can sell online. Above all, private individuals should be allowed to resell items they have paid for legitimately.
Online sales bans are harmful for consumers and small businesses. They hinder innovation, prevent cross-border trade and kill growth from e-commerce. This raises serious concerns about the completion of a Digital Single Market in Europe and prevents everybody from taking advantage of the Internet’s technical and economic possibilities.