Consumer Focus - European Commission

An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU. 2 ... We operate across the whole of the economy, persuading businesses, public services ... Complaint redress: 35 per cent of consumers stated that they don't buy cross- ... 2 Eurostat, Statistics in Focus 50/2012 Internet use in households and by ...
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Consumer Focus response to the European Commission’s Green Paper consultation on An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of ecommerce in the EU February 2013

About Consumer Focus Consumer Focus is the statutory consumer champion for England, Wales, Scotland and (for postal consumers) Northern Ireland. We operate across the whole of the economy, persuading businesses, public services and policy-makers to put consumers at the heart of what they do. We tackle the issues that matter to consumers, and give people a stronger voice. We don’t just draw attention to problems – we work with consumers and with a range of organisations to champion creative solutions that make a difference to consumers’ lives. Following the recent consumer and competition reforms, the Government has asked Consumer Focus to establish a new Regulated Industries Unit by April 2013 to represent consumers’ interests in complex, regulated markets sectors. The Citizens Advice service will take on our role in other markets from April 2013.

Contents Consumer Focus response

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Background to our response

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Why does delivery convenience matter?

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Consumers’ increasing reliance on parcels

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Consumer detriment in the parcels market

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Our response

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Consumer principles

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Recommendations and next steps

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Consumer Focus response to the European Commission’s Green Paper consultation on An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

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Consumer Focus response Consumer Focus is pleased to be able to offer comments on the European Commission’s Green Paper consultation on An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of ecommerce in the EU. This is a very ambitious and wide-ranging consultation and the Commission will need to look at evidence from couriers/national operators/consumer groups/regulators/e-retailers when considering any future actions.

Background to our response E-retail is a huge market – recent research1 by the UK’s postal regulator Ofcom found that UK consumers spend over £1,000 per person a year shopping online – and one that continues to grow. However, this does not mean that it is a market without barriers to growth, and research suggests that consumers face multiple obstacles to cross-border ecommerce, including:  No/limited internet access: in 2012, 28 per cent of EU27 households did not have access to a broadband internet connection2  Difficulties with foreign languages: 11 per cent of consumers stated that they don’t buy cross-border because they don’t speak the language of foreign websites3. We suspect this percentage is higher in the UK: 39 per cent of UK respondents are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, compared to the European average of 54 per cent of respondents4. This issue spans both online ordering and subsequent contact with the e-retailer in the event of concerns about the delivery or items ordered  Complaint redress: 35 per cent of consumers stated that they don’t buy crossborder because it is difficult to solve any problems if something goes wrong5  Culture: 42 per cent of consumers stated that they don’t shop cross-border because there is enough choice in their country6

Why does delivery convenience matter? A major obstacle that consumers mention when considering online shopping, and that this Green Paper focuses on, relates to delivery of any items ordered, particularly crossborder. When consumers were asked about buying online cross-border they were more likely to cite certain delivery issues as a concern than when asked about buying online domestically7. 35 per cent of consumers were concerned about long delivery times when buying online cross-border (compared to 18 per cent when buying online domestically) and 27 per cent were concerned about no delivery when buying onlin