Interview with Marlene ten Ham: problems and solutions to cross-border obstacles


Ecommerce Europe is the voice of the e-commerce industry in the European policy landscape. Therefore, we are constantly looking for improvement on a European level. Which obstacles do webshops face? How come one in two Europeans shop online, but only one in seven shop cross-border? Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, points out the biggest obstacles to cross-border e-commerce and the solutions Ecommerce Europe proposes.

What is the mission of Ecommerce Europe?

More than 80% of national legislation comes from Brussels, and Ecommerce Europe helps shape the legislation which has a direct impact on e-commerce busi­nesses. Together with European policy makers, Ecommerce Europe works on a daily basis to create European policy which removes the biggest obstacles for online merchants to expand their business cross-border.

What are the biggest obstacles to cross-border e-commerce?

We have done a European-wide survey on “Barriers to Growth” with the web shops we represent. We found that online merchants with cross-border ambitions are often held back by barriers such as legal uncertainty due to unclear or very different rules, taxation and payment systems that differ greatly, or high prices of delivery due to a lack of transparency in the market. The European policy makers are now looking to break down these barriers in order to stimulate further growth of the e-commerce sector. It is up to Ecommerce Europe to set the agenda and to deliver input on their initiatives.

For example, we have long called for a modernization and simplification of the existing consumer legislation throughout Europe. There are too many sets of rules, and many still date from the pre-Internet era. The European policy makers in Brussels have now made it their priority to update the European consumer protection framework, and Ecommerce Europe is constantly at the table in the discussions on how to shape a legal framework that is fit for the future.

What are the solutions Ecommerce Europe proposes?

The e-commerce sector is an incredibly innovative and fast-moving sector. We therefore absolutely believe that not all solutions come from rules and regulations. Ecommerce Europe contributes by developing its own projects, such as a European-wide Trustmark – which can bring consumer trust in the cross-border market. Another example is the Ecommerce Europe web platform on e-logistics in which we bring delivery operators and online merchants together to create more transparency in the parcel delivery market.

Next to this we advocate for a level playing field throughout Europe by smart harmonization of rules about things like data protection & privacy, consumer rights, and tax administration. If we want to create one European market, everyone should have to adhere to the same rules affecting their business.

Why do merchants have to visit the Ecommerce Europe Annual Conference?

With around 350 visitors, the Ecommerce Europe Annual Conference on June 8 2015 is THE e-commerce conference for European businesses and policy makers eager to learn more about how to knock down these barriers to cross-border e-commerce. Online merchants will have the opportunity to have a direct say in the shaping of rules and regulations that will determine their business success or failure in the future. Also, they can share best practices and innovative solutions to the barriers they face on a daily basis with their peers and the wider industry through presentations and plenty of networking opportunities.

The Annual Conference offers many interesting topics and speakers, as well as interesting visitors. Check out the programand speakers.

Free tickets Business Partners and Company Members

Don’t miss out on the Ecommerce Europe Annual Conference 2015, the biggest European platform where policy makers and businesses will come together and discuss collaboration to prepare Europe for the future of e-commerce. The Annual Conference takes place prior to the Global E-commerce Summit. Company members of Ecommerce Europe receive one free ticket (value €1.490) for the Annual Conference and the Global E-commerce Summit and Business Partners of Ecommerce Europe even receive two free tickets (value €2.980,-). Get your tickets now!