E-commerce and the trade-off between consumer protection and sustainability

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Publication Date 2020
ISSN 2365-919X
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Consumers are increasingly taking an interest in the conditions under which goods are produced and ser-vices are provided. They are keen to ensure that their consumer behaviour is as sustainable as possible, yet at the same time they also want to benefit from un-encumbered consumption which is as convenient and hassle-free as possible. This leads to conflicts which are not only the subject of social debate but are also reflected in legal issues. Although sustainability has so far been enshrined in environmental law, attempts to establish a solid basis for it in consumer law are few and far between and still only in their infancy. The re-sulting issue, whereby consumer law is focused heavily on the conclusion of contracts at a time when sustaina-ble consumption is gaining increasing importance, will be illustrated in this paper using a particular example: the issue of returns in e-commerce.In 2019, e-commerce accounted for 10 % of total retail revenue in Germany. In absolute terms, it is current-ly worth EUR 72,6 billion. More than 80 % of Germans aged between 14 and 69 shop online. All forecasts sug-gest that this sales channel will only continue to grow. However, as e-commerce surges, so too does the num-ber of returns that are made. Approximately 12 % of all ordered items and approximately 45 % of textiles and footwear ordered online in 2018 were returned by con-sumers. The total cost to the industry for these returns is an estimated EUR 5.46 billion. This is more or less equivalent to the gross annual salary of 138,000 people. One of the main reasons why this figure is so high is the fact that consumers can withdraw from the con-tract within 14 days of taking physical possession of the goods without any reason and subsequently recover the purchase price and, normally, the shipping costs from the company concerned. In most cases, the company will even cover the return shipping costs.

Source Link https://hdl.handle.net/1814/72005
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  • https://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/72005/E-commerce%20and%20the%20trade-off%20between%20consumer%20protection%20and%20sustainability.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
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