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Electronic commerce has the potential to bring significant benefits to consumers. It can provide greater choice, promote competition among suppliers, and allow businesses to develop new relationships with their customers for mutual advantage. It also has the potential to play a large part in the development of the cross-border shopping dimension of the internal market. While e-commerce is growing, obstacles to consumer confidence remain.

By providing common rights for consumers and establishing obligations for retailers throughout Europe, the Distance Selling Directive and the Distance Marketing of Financial Services Directive aim to ensure consumer confidence in distance selling, including e-commerce.

See also: Distance Selling
Distance Marketing of Financial Services

The 'right of withdrawal' is a good example of a measure fostering confidence in distance selling, as it allows consumers to see what they are buying and to reflect on whether they really made a good deal before making a final decision.

Electronic Commerce Directive

  • The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) aims to ensure legal certainty and consumer confidence by laying down a clear and general framework to cover certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market. It acknowledges the consumer protection measures in other directives such as Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts, Distance Contracts, Misleading and Comparative Advertising, Consumer Credit, Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours, Indication of Prices, General Product Safety, Timeshare, Injunctions, Liability for Defective Products, Sale of Consumer Goods and associated Guarantees, and the Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services.
    Electronic Commerce
  • Evidence in the market place suggested that trustmarks faced difficulties both in achieving brand recognition by consumers and in becoming commercially viable and sustainable operations. Final Report on the common characteristics of trustmarks and webseals in the European Union. AnnexPDF
  • Consumer Confidence in e-Commerce PDF: lessons learned from the e-confidence initiative (8 November 2004).
  • Eurobarometer results on e-commerce, 2008

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