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What the European Union’s cross-border parcel delivery policy means to global ecommerce

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Ecommerce retailers should always be looking to stay relevant in the global market.

International expansion is a key to revenue growth, but with global commerce comes a raft of unfamiliar and changing regulations. You likely know about GDPR and what that reform looks like for your customer data. But you should also get to know about another ecommerce reform passed last year in the European Union: the new cross-border parcel delivery policy.

New European Union regulations for cross-border parcel delivery will likely impact the entire ecommerce world. In March 2018, Members of the European Parliament adopted a proposal to make the cross-border parcel delivery market more transparent and competitive and to reduce the barriers consumers and e-retailers encounter when purchasing and selling products online in the EU.

The new regulations aim to provide more transparency for consumers who shop online with EU-based retailers. The changes can bring big wins for everyone involved in retail transactions—consumers and sellers alike.

If you’re not based in or selling in Europe, the new trend toward data protection, privacy and transparency is still relevant to your interests as an ecommerce retailer, especially for improving your customer experience. Here’s a few ways the new cross-border parcel delivery policy provides better conditions for buyers and sellers.

A new standard for transparency and oversight

According to a report from the General Secretariat of the European Council and the Council of the EU, the new regulations will require delivery tariffs to be published online, which will help users choose the best rates.

The European Parliament report also states that national postal authorities will collect data from shipping companies to monitor the market and assess unreasonably high tariffs.

The simple act of publicly sharing delivery tariffs, delivery conditions and other costs creates a more open commerce system, where consumers have the freedom to choose the best option for their shopping needs and retailers have a responsibility to act in good faith in all transactions.

Retailers who aren’t yet bound by these regulations can take a page from them for their own success. Proactive management of key terms and conditions can save a lot of time and money for your business, and you’ll be ready should similar regulations come along that do affect you. You can get a head start on other ecommerce retailers who haven’t implemented improved transparency models.

A more level playing field for merchants — especially for small and medium businesses

Ecommerce is anyone’s game. Smaller sellers have a place at the table, even in the shadow of giants like Amazon. The new EU cross-border delivery policy provides better chances for SMBs to thrive in ecommerce, thanks to publicly available data on tariffs, costs and other shipping rates.

Smaller retail sellers often lack bargaining power when negotiating shipping rates. Now, EU-based ecommerce retailers of any size can benefit from objective factors that will dictate the market. They no longer have to fear being priced out of growth if they can’t afford to fulfill an increasingly large number of orders. These retailers are free to set the rates that make sense for their businesses and to reach customers on their terms.

Smaller retailers not yet affected by this type of legislation can use the concept to support each other. Think about creating an alliance with other SMB ecommerce retailers to publish your rates and standardize business practices. Grow your network and provide a more level playing field for all sellers, and soon you can see the positive results showing up in better sales numbers for your business.

A better customer experience — welcoming empowered shoppers

The online shopping experience can be perilous for retailers and consumers. Think about it—one small thing goes wrong and you can lose a customer for life. One of those snafus could be when a customer goes to complete a purchase in their cart but sees a high shipping fee or long delivery time right before they click the “order” button. That equals a quick cart abandonment, at best. At worst, It could mean the customer never comes back, because they can’t justify the shipping costs for an item they really want.

Shoppers like choices. They want to feel in control. You can empower your customers by providing on your website clear, upfront information about your shipping and return policies, associated costs for taxes and fees and other key facts about the expected shopping experience. Make this information easily available and translate it into other languages as it makes sense. Include it in your marketing and messaging. Think of it alongside your privacy policy or terms of service—two other essential components of a website.

Small gestures like these go a long way in building trust, especially for new customers. And you can keep building good relationships with existing customers by providing consistent, transparent policies that put experience at the top of the list.

A glimpse of the future

Regulations like the EU cross-border delivery policy are here to stay, and they’re only getting stronger. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has always had consumer privacy and other protections baked into its methodology, as reported in Thompson Reuters Practical Law. Per the above Thompson Reuters report, California leads the way in the privacy arena with multiple privacy laws, some of which have far-reaching effects at a national level.

Increased privacy and transparency for the consumer is a key factor in the success of all global retail. Start integrating these ideas into your customer experience now to ensure your place at the ecommerce table.

Photo by Kendall Henderson, Unsplash

Chris Martinez

Chris Martinez

Chris is a content strategist at Signifyd.