Business-to-consumer ecommerce has evolved dramatically since its birth in the late 1990s, putting consumers on centre stage. Consumer ratings and reviews not only shape the buying experiences of other consumers but also affect business reputation and product development. The line between businesses and consumers is further blurred by the financial opportunities opened to consumers to sell, rent, and perform tasks for other consumers through Internet platforms. Such online activity generates a wealth of data used to sketch rich consumer profiles which have become core to ecommerce business models but also brings risks, including privacy and security risks.
Enhancing consumer trust remains a cornerstone for success in a dynamic and complex e-commerce marketplace. On 24 March 2016, the OECD revised its Recommendation on Consumer Protection for Ecommerce, modernising its approach to fair business practices, information disclosures, payment protections, unsafe products, dispute resolution, enforcement and education. The revisions built upon preparatory work that included specific policy guidance on mobile and online payments and intangible digital content products, released in 2014. Protecting digital consumers was a key theme at the OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy, which took place on 22-23 June 2016, in Mexico.
The Internet is providing consumers with exciting opportunities to purchase an expanding range of products from a large number of suppliers, at lower prices. Enhancing the benefits of e-commerce for consumers will require maintaining an environment in which consumers have trust.
Countries should modernise their consumer protection laws to address new risks posed by online commerce, including “free” apps and peer-to-peer Internet transactions, according to new OECD guidelines for member countries and emerging economies.
See the Recommendation on Consumer Protection in E-commerce (available in French and Japanese). Read the press release.
Technological advances and market pressures have made telecommunications and ICT products and systems increasingly complex. Mobile providers are offering ever more sophisticated products and services. Though consumers take the full advantage of this developments they face problems of switching, fees, analysis of offers, etc. The OECD investigates how consumer policies could be ammended and encourages its member countries to take appropriate actions.
2007 Mobile commerce
2003 Consumers in the online Marketplace: the Guidelines Three Years Later (also available in French)
The development of Internet has facilitated the globalisation of markets and cross-border e-commerce but also taken Internet fraud to new levels. Consumers are at risk of identity theft, which threatens trust and undermines the growth of online commerce. The OECD has studied the issues and made recommendations to support work by governments to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from these threats.
2006 OECD Task force on spam: anti-spam toolkit of recommended policies and measures (also available in French)
Illegal copying and unauthorised distribution of digital works has intensified in everyday consumer products such as audio CDs, DVDs, and e-books. Copyright holders wish to prevent any unauthorised use. Both international and national legal copyright instruments provide protection for copyrighted material and remedies against their circumvention.
2003 The importance of accurate and available WHOIS data (also available in French)