Is the de-facto trustmark Amazon or eBay? Is this fair?
In another discussion on this site, Osimod raises an interesting point about European e-commerce platforms being dominated by Amazon and eBay already (http://daa.ec.europa.eu/content/how-can-investment-e-commerce-help-creat...).
But I would phrase it in a different way: TRUST has made Amazon and eBay the dominant marketplaces by attracting small retailers in under their trusted umbrella. I spoke to several e-commerce professionals who suggested I summarise their comments on this site.
First, one (ex Amazon) e-commerce professional noted that he did not see any reason for policy intervention, e-commerce was coming along fine. Why would Amazon feel the need to engage? But others pointed out a potential lack of fair competition which they believe drives a need for a non-aligned trustmark.
Amazon and eBay have become trusted go-to marketplaces for many European consumers in the absence of an accepted pan European Trustmark scheme for small e-merchants. Some feel that this creates a barrier for small etailers - they have to trade via Amazon's or ebay's marketplaces. Even if you are a larger brand, trust is still required to sell overseas where the brand may be less well known (lack of cross-border ecommerce is one of the EC's bugbears).
Amazon acts not only as a trusted marketplace for your e-shop, it can also warehouse and deliver your products, so it is very easy to set up a "virtual" e-commerce company. Amazon could argue it has created many EU jobs in this way. It certainly has many distribution centres in Europe and although there have been newspaper reports suggesting Amazon Europe's tax bill is a little low, it presumably does not escape VAT (see http://daa.ec.europa.eu/content/tax-harmonisation).
But arguably neither Amazon nor eBay are "open" market-places in terms of competition.
Amazon is a retailer AND a marketplace owner. It competes with its merchant marketplace customers and has an advantage over all other merchants because it can see their prices and turnover - instantly.
eBay does not compete with its merchant customers, but it owns PayPal and promotes this payment mechanism.
Some small e-commerce retailers are telling me that this is unfair competition.
Thoughts? Trustmark thoughts please go here to comment: http://daa.ec.europa.eu/content/special/discussion-paper-trustmarks