On 14 December, Ecommerce Europe organized a high-level stakeholder meeting on the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark, with representatives from the European Commission (Despina Spanou, Director Consumers, DG JUSTICE and Laure Chapuis, Member of the Cabinet of Vice President Ansip), as well as Ursula Pachl, Deputy Director General, BEUC, the European Consumer Organization. In the meeting, Ecommerce Europe asked for input from the stakeholders on how to make the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark stronger, from a legal point of view, but also on how to ensure its further growth next year.
Promoting consumer confidence and ensuring a safe environment for online users is key to guaranteeing the competitiveness of the online retail sector. The Ecommerce Europe Trustmark does just that. By establishing one European set of rules, and by ensuring clear communication of these rules, the Trustmark aims to boost cross-border e-commerce through better protection for consumers.
The need for a Pan-European Trustmark in e-commerce
Stakeholders questioned the need for a Trustmark, both for the consumer and the merchant’s perspective. Do consumers feel more confident and safer when shopping online with a Trustmark? Do merchants need a Trustmark to comply with European and national legislation? Several of Ecommerce Europe’s members have carried out A/B testing to see what the impact of the Trustmark is, and recent EU surveys have indicated conversion rate increases of up to 26% for website carrying a Trustmark. This evidence clearly highlights how important the trust factor is for online shoppers. Furthermore, based on the experience of national e-commerce associations, a large number of merchants currently do not comply with European legislation. In Ireland for example, only 2% of Irish retailers are currently compliant with data protection, privacy regulations and consumer laws which is something the implementation of the Trustmark addresses. On registering for the Trustmark, applicants are furnished with a comprehensive set of rights and obligations, establishing a benchmark for excellence and best practice.
Developing a more comprehensive set of rules for the consumer
Another aspect of the Trustmark that has been discussed is the set of rules used for the Code of Conduct. BEUC would like to see a more detailed Code of Conduct, which would make it clearer to the consumer what their rights are. Annegret Mayer, Chair of the Trustmark Committee within Ecommerce Europe, explained that behind the Code of Conduct, there is a whole list of detailed legal criteria, which merchants must comply with. For Ecommerce Europe’s communications, it has been simplified, keeping in mind the studies showing that consumers barely read very detailed and exhaustive terms and conditions. On this, Despina Spanou asked for Ecommerce Europe’s input in the context of the European Commission’s REFIT Fitness Check of consumer law and to come up with basic and necessary principles that a consumer must be aware of in the case of sale, so as to simplify terms and conditions, and make them more accessible to consumers.
A growing Trustmark in Europe
Just over a year after its launch, 10,000+ online merchants are now entitled to carry the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark and it is operating in 11 countries. In 2017, more countries will adopt the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark, namely Norway, France, Poland, Hungary and Romania, and thus boost cross-border e-commerce. Furthermore, Ecommerce Europe, together with its national e-commerce associations in countries where the Trustmark has been launched will redouble its efforts to increase the visibility of the Trustmark and the number of online merchants carrying it. This is also why the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark is free for online merchants until at least 2018.