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13-11-19 DIB News

Consumers ignore product safety when shopping online

Danish consumers shop online all over the world, and they often buy electronics. But consumers pay little attention to product safety. This distorts competition, notes sourcing and services company Solar. DI is pleased that the minister of business is preparing a new proposal to allow for better monitoring of the stream of goods.

Each day Denmark receives over 40,000 packages containing goods that consumers have purchased outside the EU, much of it on online marketplaces. The packages contain clothes, toys, shoes and cosmetics, but most popular are electronics. The goods are cheap, but only rarely do they comply with EU product safety standards - and consumers focus more on the price and payment solution, shows a new study from the Danish Commercial Industries Federation.

“It distorts competition because Danish and European companies spend time and money on ensuring that their products comply with safety standards. Meanwhile, the backdoor is wide open,” says Director Sidsel Dyrholm Holst, the Danish Commercial Industries Federation.

Furthermore, consumers run the risk of buying products of very low quality that may ultimately be downright dangerous to use, she notes.

Read the analysis: Danes’ view of online marketplaces 2019 (in Danish)

We currently do not have the tools to protect consumers from dangerous products that come from non-EU countries - or to help companies who are under pressure due to unfair competition. We do know, however, that Danes are increasingly purchasing goods from suppliers all over the world. Sidsel Dyrholm Holst, Branchedirektør

Families with children are biggest e-shoppers

The study from the Danish Commercial Industries Federation shows that Danes who shop online often use online marketplaces such as AliExpress and Wish, where goods do not necessarily fulfil EU product safety standards. 53 per cent of those who shop online use online marketplaces - and this is also the segment that shops online most frequently.

“Unfortunately, product safety is not of particularly great concern to consumers when shopping online. The data shows that factors such as secure payment solutions, low prices and short delivery time are much more important. That is why we need more monitoring of suppliers and more information for consumers, such that they become more aware of what it is they are actually buying when they shop online,” notes Sidsel Dyrholm Holst.

It is consumers in the age group 18-49 with children under 15 who are the most frequent users of foreign online marketplaces, shows the survey from the Danish Commercial Industries Federation.

Paying for those who shirk responsibilities

The flow of goods across borders also has a negative impact on the companies in Denmark and the rest of Europe who comply with EU regulations. Solar, a sourcing and services company which sells electronics and electrical goods, is among those who are fed up with all the foreign electronics that flow across the borders from suppliers that do not follow the rules.

“We pay WEEE fees for all our electronic goods, which helps ensure that electronic waste in Denmark is disposed of in an environmentally sustainable way. We are happy to do this, but we are also indirectly paying for all the unregistered electronics that cross the border via e-commerce. This is unfair competition, because the fees sometimes surpass the price of the product itself,” explains Carsten Antonisen, Senior Vice President of Solar.

He therefore hopes to see far better monitoring of the increasing import of electronics from international online marketplaces. Until now, it has been impossible to stop the flow of goods that do not comply with EU standards, says Director Sidsel Dyrholm Holst.

“We currently do not have the tools to protect consumers from dangerous products that come from non-EU countries - or to help companies who are under pressure due to unfair competition. We do know, however, that Danes are increasingly purchasing goods from suppliers all over the world.”

New legislation underway in Denmark

The EU has already tightened its approach to online marketplaces. In spring 2019 a new market monitoring directive was passed, which enables member countries to employ harsher methods in their dealings with online marketplaces.

In the future, it will be possible for authorities to carry out so-called “mystery shopping,” pretending to be an ordinary consumer in order to monitor the purchasing process and goods. It will also be possible to shut down online shops that do not comply with rules.

On the basis of the new regulation, Minister of Business Simon Kollerup has announced a new act that will allow for the new opportunities to be employed in Denmark.

“We are very pleased with the minister’s initiative. The new legislation will give authorities the tools to better identify the rotten apples such that everyone can benefit from global e-commerce - albeit in a way in which everyone plays according to the same rules,” says Sidsel Dyrholm Holst and adds:

“We have not yet seen the proposal, but we know that the new rules will give authorities a number of tools to monitor goods from third countries. While we welcome this initiative, it is also essential that the rights of compliant companies be safeguarded. We will not know what this balance will look like until we see the proposal,” concludes the director.

FACTS

The Danish Commercial Industries Federation’s survey of Danish e-shoppers’ use of online marketplaces shows that:

- Over half of Danish e-shoppers have shopped on online marketplaces

- The most frequent shoppers are those in the age group 18-49 with children

- E-shoppers who shop on online marketplaces also generally shop more frequently online

- 6 out of 10 e-shoppers on online marketplaces expect to shop again

- Electronics and electrical equipment are the most-purchased products on online marketplaces.

The survey was carried out among 1,011 members of Userneed’s Denmark panel. The sample was selected so as to be demographically representative in terms of gender, age and geographic region.

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