Europe may be steeped in history, but its consumers are growing more accustomed to the convenience of shopping online.
The European Commission said its annual Consumer Conditions survey found that more European consumers are shopping online and that their “trust in e-commerce has increased” especially when buying from online operators based in the European Union.
According to the survey results, more than 55 percent of consumers in the 28 EU member states had made a purchase online in the prior three months, compared to 53 percent in 2016 and only 29 percent a decade ago.
While about 72 percent of European consumers said they were confident in shopping online with local operators, that number dropped to 57 percent when considering cross-border e-commerce. Confidence in both categories has increased however, rising 12 percent for shopping within a single country and 21 percent outside across borders, compared to 2014.
The commission described the survey results as showing “much progress” with the EU’s move to create a digital single market covering digital marketing, e-commerce and telecommunications, but admitted there’s still a ways to go before its digital economy catches up with the U.S.
“The [survey] shows that consumers are still facing obstacles when trying to buy from online retailers based in another EU country,” the commission said in a report. “”For example, 13 percent of respondents reported a payment being refused and 10 percent were refused delivery of products to their country.”
Commissioner Věra Jourová said that part of the government’s work has been to garner consumer trust in the Digital Single Market, but now it’s time for retailers and business to do their part.
“Consumers are now more confident when they shop online and we’ve equipped them with a quick procedure to get their money back if something goes wrong, even when buying from another country,” Jourová said. “The challenge now is to encourage more businesses to respond to this growing demand.”
The commission pointed out that only 40 percent of retailers currently selling online said they’re planning to expand sales outside of their country in the next year.
“Many still have concerns about selling online in other countries, namely because of a higher risk of fraud, differences in national tax regulations or national contract law rules or differences in consumer rules,” the commission said.
In an effort to rectify this, the commission is currently considering legislation that would create “modern digital contract rules” to be uniformly applied across the EU.
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