Round Table in Helsinki: Harnessing the potential of European cross-border e-commerce


Unleashing the full potential of the European e-commerce market and overcoming current obstacles of cross-border e-commerce was the central issue at the Round Table in and the Finnish Commerce Federation.

After an introduction of Kristina Metso, Commercial Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation, the Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, Mrs. Audrey Keukens gave her insights into the potential of European e-commerce. Furthermore the Development Director of the TNS Gallup Finland, Mr. Ville Wikström presented the e-commerce statistics of FMCG in Finland and discussed how cross-border e-commerce can be stimulated in his country.

Tearing down barriers

There is great potential for e-commerce in the European countries, but it hasn’t been fully unlocked yet. This is due to the diversity of national rules in 28 countries and the consequential insecurities for retailers when selling cross-border. Restrictive regulations are barriers that hinder the development and transparency of e-commerce in Europe. With the endeavors of the European Commission to set up a digital single market, the first steps are being taken. However, a lot of work remains to be done.

About 80% of all legislation is coming from Brussels, which is translated into national legislation, framed by the guidelines of the EU. It is essential to unify these regulations, harmonize ordering systems and what may not be forgotten: develop trust. Trust is a key element of fueling e-commerce and cross-border trade. Therefore it is essential to enable more transparency, so that retailers have a clear overview of what to expect when selling across borders in Europe.

European retailers vs. global marketplaces

Differences in regulations and structures are slowing down Europe’s e-commerce. In the meantime the global marketplaces are gaining more and more strength on the European market. Ecommerce Europe has done research on the rise of the global market places and can report that market places are taking over big parts of the market. Those market places have many more muscle, resources, competencies and are constantly pushing the boundaries. Many national retailers are already partnering with them, as they can’t compete with them anyway. All the more reason for Europe to gather its strength and brake down its barriers to enhance the internal market.

The Finish approach to e-commerce

Mr. Ville Wikström, the Development Director of TNS Gallup, presented the statistics of the e-commerce in FMCG and Grocery in Finland. The TNS Gallup Finland has done studies since 1999 on the online shopping behavior of the Fins.
Mr. Wikström reported that the shopping behavior of the Fins is evolving and gradually changing from shops to online shopping. The attitude towards online shopping is becoming more and more positive. Even though the number of visits on websites are declining, purchases are constantly rising. The online shopping habits of the Fins entail targeted shopping and buying only one item at the time. The demands of online shoppers are rising, with regard to various aspects, such as delivery times, services etc., whereas convenience and ease of the shopping process remain most essential to the customer. There is a decline in web shops in Finland that has to be well monitored, in order to stop this development.

Next Round Table: Dublin

The next Round Table will take place in Dublin on the 17th of September 2015 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.