Aldo Agostinelli

Two years for everybody: this is the deadline set by the European Union as a warranty on all products sold in the member countries. Notwithstanding a few exceptions, such as Sweden or the Netherlands which offer three year warranties but will not be allowed to extend them any further, all other countries are expected to comply with the regulations. And this includes both physical retail points and online marketplace (Digital age: consumer guarantee). Read the post in Italian.

The European Parliament Committee for the internal market and consumers protection (IMCO) has also removed geoblocking. The new rules remove the ban which prohibited European consumers to purchase goods or services only from geolocalized websites. Now consumers are allowed to purchase goods from any websites without being readdressed to a local website. And marketers will have to treat all European consumers the same way, regardless their nationality (Parliament votes to end barriers to cross-border online shopping).

Clearly, since operators will be forced to sell to all consumers regardless the place where they live ( or their temporary address ) as long as they belong to the EU, sellers and businesses will need some standard business-to-consumer rules.

Are we approaching the Digital Single Market? Apparently so. By the way, it was the e-commerce which triggered consumers’ attention for warranties, returns etc. And it was the internet to get consumers accustomed to ask for the same treatment they would receive off-line thus forcing online businesses to rethink their customer care.

As I explained in the article entitled “Amazon & Co lead the Crm revolution”, marketplaces such as Amazon or Zalando have revolutionized the concept of customer care. Consumers are now used to receiving a prompt and efficient service, apologies in case of delay, refunds or free replacement of products, and fast replies to inquiries. And they want to be treated the same way when they visit a physical retail point.

So, if Zalando allows for returns within 100 days from the purchase date, some retail chains have extended their deadline to 30 days and to any physical shop belonging to the brand, something which would have been impossible just a few years ago.

A survey conducted by Tim Trade involving over 1.000 US consumers provides further evidence of the positive effect which online has had on shop in-store than online, provided they are supported by skilled shop assistants (Study: 85% of Consumers Prefer to Shop at Physical Stores vs. Online). That is to say: I want the same experience given by Asos, Zalando or Amazon but in the shop next door.

This means that customer care is still crucial and determines the success or failure o any retail business online or off line. And if physical retail chains should take after online businesses they would probably make the right choice.

Where do you like shopping, from home sitting in front of your pc or browsing shops? And why? Tweet @agostinellialdo.
To find out more about the digital world, you can read my book: “People Are Media”

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Aldo Agostinelli