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Digital business must continue to be under attention of new Commission

by Andrea Boscaro,  founder of The Vortex

 

One of the areas in digital media that has been most dealt with under the past Commission was the harmonization in e-commerce local
regulations so as to increase cross-border transactions and the single e-market as a whole: with only 13% of cross-border purchases in 2013
out of total online b2c business and a projected 20% percentage by 2018 (Emota, 2013) to be achieved, this is definitely one the key areas where digital business must continue to be under the attention also of the new Commission.

Such a low value is today influenced by consumer-oriented limitations such as local tax, privacy and disputes solution regulations as well as by operational burdens like differentiations in payments and logistics.

If the last topic is a field where merchants’ associations can improve a lot the quality of the marketplace with co-ordinated negotiations with providers on behalf of large retailers as well as SMEs, another crucial area that has to tackled is to educate  companies to better use e-commerce as a way to increase revenues and competitiveness.

Without such actions, the European digital field will be limited to online giants like Amazon and eBay and newcomers like Alibaba and other Chinese players: as an example, the airport of Parma in Italy has been recently acquired by one of them in order to turn it to a logistic base for far-Eastern digital exports.

In all reports, the knowledge of how to best let products and services be found also in search engines and marketplaces is mentioned as a top skill where merchants have to enhance their efficiency: international SEO is therefore important and is not necessarily well known in the agency ecosystem on the ground.

Tools like Google Global Market Finder and Consumer Barometer are useful allies in identifying users’ behaviour and intents in the different local markets and create a priority list of countries and “keywords” to optimise online stores’ presence and sales: an English version of the site would not necessarily match the language and the way local users might use to search for their needs. As a consequence, the site would simply not be found. Such an attention, together with other technical requirements – eg. the hreflang tag in the code – are at the basis of the international search engine optimization and, more in general, the condition to get found in large marketplaces such as Amazon’s.

Selling cross-border does therefore require the same attention as using more traditional distributors and should be a focus area for companies and for the European Union if we want to leverage on e-commerce as a way for a real single market.

Source: The Vortex

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