It's almost time! Geoblocking regulation on its way

October 26, 2018 by
Nico Hoeijmans

GeoblockingStarting December 3rd, it is forbidden for web shops to exclude or discriminate consumers based on their location. This has some implications for your shop.  Research performed by the European Commission concludes that 36 percent of all European web shops do not sell cross-border. 27 percent of these web shops does this to prevent cross-border deliveries. 22 percent aims to not process payment transactions from foreign payment providers.

Not serving consumer depending on their geographical relations is called geoblocking. For example, by checking IP-addresses automatically on country code, the web shop can be hidden for these kinds of consumers. It also happens that web shop owners refuse to execute the delivery to certain delivery addresses or that offered payment methods for consumers that are geographically located in a different European area are not supported.

The goal of the new geoblocking regulation is to use the e-commerce market as much as possible. Basically, it means that all EU-web shops have to offer their products and services to all European consumers, despite the European country they are coming from. On top of that, the geoblocking regulation states that terms and conditions have to be equal for all consumers, and payments originating from all European Union members have to be processed.

Our partner Trusted Shops has created a check-list for web shops to focus on, and if necessary adjust their platform.

1. Check you terms and conditions
Remove all settings that result in consumers having limited or no access to content on your web shop.

2. Reconsider current payment methods
Geoblocking states that web shops have to accept all payments from bank accounts in all EU-member states, through the payment providers they work with. This also means that all consumers have to be able to use payment methods, no matter their geographical location in the EU. E.g. Do you as German shop offer credit card payment with Visa, you have to accept Polish Visa cards as well.

3. Get your delivery strategy in line
Web shops cannot discriminate based on geographical location. That also takes deliveries into account. The same terms apply to all consumer in EU-member states. E.g. Can German consumers pick up their products at a pick-up point, Spanish consumers have to be able to do this as well.

4. Do not refer to another domain, unless you have to or explicitly tell the consumer
When a web shop is available in multiple languages, please keep the following in mind:

  • Referrals to other domains (.nl, .be, .de, etc.) in line with juridical regulations or currently existing shops on these domains. Referrals are only allowed if the web shop visitor explicitly provides permission for this.
  • If referral is not necessary, it will no longer be allowed after the geoblocking regulation becomes active. Check you shop!

4. Do not panic for translations
It is not obliged to translate your shop in all European languages. It means that, when you do not focus on a foreign market, you do not have to offer your shop in the native language.

A positive development
According to Tim Heinen, Country Manager Benelux of Trusted Shops, the geoblocking regulation is a positive development. He states: "The new regulation allows web shops to optimally use the advantages of the internet - cross-border sales." Heinen does not deny there are some challenges: "For mid- and small retailers it can be a challenge to sell cross border. Their are, for example logistical challenges that need to be taken care of. It does offer a great chance to enlarge your customer base."

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