Abolition of geoblocking: what changes and what doesn’t change for an e-merchant?

Geo-blocking is gone, long live geo-blocking?

As of 3 December 2018, geo-blocking, i.e. the exclusion of consumers of e-services due to their location, is not allowed in the European Union. However, this does not mean that e-merchants have to serve all consumers in the European Union.

What will change for the e-merchant?

If products are offered on different websites, it is forbidden to redirect the consumer to another website with different conditions and prices. If the e-merchant has not used such an option before, then disabling geo-blocking will have no effect on his activities. If in the past there was an automatic diversion of consumers, changes need to be made.

If the general terms and conditions of the merchant state that the e-shop offers goods only in certain territories, then the general terms and conditions must be changed in this respect.

At the same time, ensuring the accessibility of the e-shop to all persons located in a Member State of the European Union does not mean that it must be possible to make purchases from the e-shop.

Can you choose the consumers?

The regulation, which abolished geo-block, imposed an obligation on businesses to provide access but does not provide for the obligation to make their e-shop understandable to all consumers. Thus, it is possible to attract / not attract consumers by choosing the language of the e-shop.

However, the choice of language or the lack of it may not be an insurmountable problem, as Google Translate and other similar machine translation programs also make it possible to understand web pages presented in unknown languages.

The abolition of geo-blocking does not mean that e-merchants are obliged to offer suitable payment solutions to all persons in the European Union. If the e-merchant offers the option of credit card payment, the consumers may not be selected on the basis of the country of issue of the credit card. However, the choice of payment solutions remains for the e-merchant to decide.

If the payment solution is a bank link, it is up to the consumer to decide how to reach the corresponding payment solution. Thus, e-merchant still has the opportunity to segment customers through payment solutions.

The regulation leaves the e-merchant free to decide which supply options are offered to consumers and in which territory it takes place. Consequently, e-merchant has the opportunity to choose to which countries the goods will be delivered.

If there is no territory suitable for the consumer in the standard choice, then it is the consumer’s concern about how the goods will be delivered to him or her.

In conclusion, geo-blocking regulation does not significantly affect the activities of e-merchants. The e-merchant can still choose in which countries he provides the service and where he delivers the goods.

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