Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Consumers@shopping

An international comparative study of electronic commerce, funded by the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General, reveals the real-life experiences of shopping in the borderless world of the Internet.

Carried out by Consumers International, it...
An international comparative study of electronic commerce, funded by the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General, reveals the real-life experiences of shopping in the borderless world of the Internet.

Carried out by Consumers International, it shows that regulators and retailers have much work still to do before the Internet offers a reliable environment in which consumers can shop with confidence.

The aim of the research was to find out how easy it is to shop on the Internet at home and abroad, and to identify good and bad practice, as well as potential problem areas.

The report, Consumers@shopping, is based on a survey carried out in late 1998 and early 1999, involving consumer organisations in eleven countries.

It makes several recommendations aimed at international and national policy-makers, and at Internet retailers and their industry bodies.

Retailers need to improve the quality and availability of key information relating to the transaction (delivery charges, product and company information etc.), says the report.

They also need to improve the reliability of the service and instigate procedures in case of redress or complaint.

'Despite a proliferation of web shops for certain popular products (e.g. books and compact discs), choice is severely limited in many product areas. Although many retailers have a website giving information about their company, it can be difficult to find sites to actually buy from: the global shopping mall is still a long way off.'

The report also recommends that information on security issues be provided, and that the law governing Internet transactions should be familiar to the consumer so they are aware of what protection is available.
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