The European Commission has taken the first steps towards a Digital Single Market. The idea is to make it easier for small businesses to sell online across Europe. What does this mean for your business?
Ever tried to buy something online from another EU country only to find yourself rerouted, unable to complete the transaction, or told the offer you’re trying to avail of isn’t available in Ireland? You’ve probably been geo-blocked; this is the term used when a person in the EU is blocked from buying goods or services from a company in another EU member state.
Geo-blocking is not just a hindrance for shoppers, its goes against the principles of the EU single market, and the European Commission has started to take action.
In a landmark case, Disneyland Paris was forced to offer French and non-French visitors to its website the same discounts and special offers, and the Commission has just agreed on further actions to remove online barriers for shoppers and businesses, creating a ‘Digital Single Market’ for the first time.
What would a DSM look like?
Easier cross-border e-commerce
Consumer regulations would be harmonised; copyright laws would be modernised, and tax rules would also be simplified.
More efficient and affordable deliveries
Getting a parcel delivered from abroad can be pricey and serves as a significant disincentive for consumers. The DSM would make deliveries more cost-effective for everyone involved.
End of price discrimination
All European customers will be entitled to the same good and services for the same price; no more geo-blocking.
Improved, pan-European infrastructure
Digital infrastructure will be enhanced right across the EU, with better coordination between states and even pan-European services and networks.
Does the DSM go far enough?
The proposed Digital Single Market does bring with it some risks and concerns. The European eCommerce and & Omni-Channel Trade Association (EMOTA) expressed concern that new obligations on sellers surrounding parcel delivery could have negative effects on competition.
EMOTA’s secretary general, Maurits Bruggink said, “although this is a step in the right direction, much greater efforts are needed to stimulate the growth of intra-European e-commerce and consequently bring prices down for online stores, in particular regarding cross-border delivery”.
Meanwhile, 72% of European internet users are concerned about internet privacy and their personal data so that Data Protection Regulation will be the key to the success of the DSM.