On 8 September, the Austrian Retail Association (Handelsverband) – member of Ecommerce Europe – held its annual summit of online retailers, the e-Commerce Day 2020, where the Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, Mr. Luca Cassetti, was invited to deliver a keynote speech. The all-day event provided industry representatives the opportunity to discuss current trends and challenges in online trading and agree on the way forward. The focus of the 2020 event was shop systems, marketing in e-commerce, AI and robotics, cross-border strategies and logistics solutions. The event connected CEOs and decision makers in the areas of sales, e-commerce, marketing, innovation, logistics and data analysis.
Mr. Cassetti discussed the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce, the twin green and digital transition and upcoming legislation at the European level. He stated that 2020 has been a difficult year for commerce in general and that while e-commerce is widely considered as a “winner” of the Covid-19 outbreak, the real situation remains more nuanced. Some sectors experienced growth in sales, but others saw a dramatic decrease. On a more positive perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought on an acceleration of the digital transformation for both businesses and consumers and has demonstrated the importance of facilitating the omnichannel transition to help businesses continue their sales over various channels, thus accommodating new ways of consuming.
In terms of the twin green and digital transitions, Mr. Cassetti stated that the e-commerce sector is an essential player for the digitalization of the European economy and has the capacity to make this transition more sustainable. Moreover, sustainable solutions are already being developed by the e-commerce industry, such as reduced packaging waste and size/air in parcels; last mile delivery optimization, use of green delivery vehicles/bikes etc. Ecommerce Europe believes that the economic recovery post COVID-19 should be both a digital and a green one. Therefore, it has become an active stakeholder in these discussions at European level, thanks to its newly established working committee on sustainability. For further insights into the links between sustainability and e-commerce, Ecommerce Europe invites interested stakeholders to a free online conference with business representatives and policymakers on 22 September (contact us for more information).
Mr. Cassetti continued by stressing that the coronavirus crisis has also strengthened the need to alleviate unnecessary regulatory barriers for merchants to avoid the legal fragmentation among Member States. Therefore, Ecommerce Europe will continue advocating for simpler and more harmonized European rules and better enforcement, especially towards those players based outside the EU but that are active on our market. Therefore, there is a strong need not only for a more Digital and Greener Europe but also for a Stronger Europe – with a more efficient and competitive Single Market.
In conclusion, Mr. Cassetti provided an overview of the EU policy developments relevant for digital commerce. He presented the state of play of the upcoming Digital Services Act, which will likely include a revision of the e-Commerce Directive and new ex-ante rules for gatekeeper platforms. He also presented Ecommerce Europe’s position regarding the new rules for Artificial Intelligence and Data, in view of the legislative proposals the Commission has planned to publish in 2021. Finally, he discussed the New Consumer Agenda initiative, which is aimed to provide a new EU strategic framework for consumer policy in some key areas such as consumer empowerment, enforcement of consumer rights, and protection of vulnerable consumers.
For further information about upcoming policy developments and Ecommerce Europe’s position, please visit our website or reach out to the Secretariat.