On 15 September, the European Commission published its Preliminary Report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry. As a reminder, the Commission had decided on 6 May 2015, as part of its Digital Single Market strategy, to launch a sector inquiry to assess and collate elements that could help identify potential barriers to competition in the e-commerce sector. To this end, the Commission sent highly detailed questionnaires to various market players active in the sector and in particular to manufacturers of branded products, resellers (pure players or not) and marketplaces.
Well aware that competition conditions may vary from one product category to another, the Commission purposefully sent its questionnaires to market players operating in various product categories in order to integrate this variable in its preliminary report. Product categories concerned are (i) clothing, shoes and fashion accessories, (ii) consumer electronics, (iii) electrical household appliances, (iv) computer games and software, (v) toys and childcare articles, (vi) media, (vii) cosmetics and healthcare products, (viii) sports and outdoor equipment and (ix) house and garden products.
After conducting an in-depth analysis of competition conditions in the e-commerce sector (I.) and resulting changes to the organisation of distribution patterns (II.), the Commission reviews certain restrictions inherent to these markets, such as physical point of sale criterion, the use of marketplaces, price comparison tools and recommended retail pricing (III.).
Simultaneously, the Commission organised a public consultation to enable interested stakeholders or professional organisations to send their comments about the preliminary findings of the sector inquiry presented in the Preliminary Report. The deadline for submitting such contributions is set at 18 November 2016.
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