Anyone can buy prescription medicines (vitamins and supplements) via the internet without a doctor’s check or even FDA approved and marked as medicines. The Dutch Consumers Association (Consumentenbond) concludes this on the basis of their own research this week.
Customs checks in Europe
The Consumer’ Association ordered twenty prescription medicines without a doctor’s prescription, such as antibiotics, sedatives, tranquillizers, cancer medicines, vitamins and supplements, from different suppliers at home and abroad. Most shipments were delivered from or via the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, India, Singapore and the US.
In general, it is not allowed in most of the European countries to buy prescription medicines without a doctor’s prescription. Some of the investigated web shops are therefore clearly illegal according to the Consumers’ Association and require payments in cash or with cryptocurrencies. Even if you think you are compliant and following the European regulations you probably are not when your products are not pre-classified with the right tariff codes and additional clearance codes.
It is worrying that professional looking websites can hardly be distinguished from legal internet pharmacies, according to Olof King, director of the Consumers’ Association.
Expand and go global in a compliant way
As a non-European web shop, you even need to be more complaint when you are selling and shipping into Europe when you are not manufacturing in Europe according the European regulations.
You don’t need to have a (or multiple) European warehouse(s) for your direct b-c ecommerce into Europe constantly thinking about all the risks of potentially acting to late, losing money and how to stay in business in Europe. There are a lot of uncertainties where policies, duties and tariffs can change overnight via one ‘Trump’ tweet and the upcoming Brexit. Your global direct b-c ecommerce and supply chain need accurate planning and should run on a routine.
A platform with technology and AI for classifications are more needed than ever to play the long game and minimizing risk in your pricing strategy. You need to go aggressive for scale and growth if you want to meet European customers’ expectations. Consumers’ expectation in the US and domestic European market is a two delivery so why 7-21 days shipping cross-border into Europe?
Real growth can’t be managed anymore by the phone and email especially selling and shipping cross border into Europe. You need pre-classifications, smart analytics and a compliant partner network. This way you can plan around potential challenges and adjust pricing and shipping solutions.
Historically ecommerce and supply chains are based on cost and conversion instead of real time predictions and compliance to get returning customers.
The so called “Freight Tech” has been hyped in the industry already for the past 5 years, and we are clearly seeing tech adoption increase across a number of carriers, forwarders and logistics providers. Great examples are companies like Flexport, FreightHub, Quicargo and developments from the largest carrier Maersk with IBM and logistics provider Kuehne and Nagel.
In global cross border b-c ecommerce the adoption appears to take hold at a somewhat sedate pace. One of the reasons (but not the only one) for this is the chicken-and-egg effect between the integrators, mail service providers and global ecommerce merchants. The global ecommerce merchants ‘think’ they don’t feel the pain of not being compliant connected to an expensive integrator solution or slow mail service into Europe. Margins are thin, shipping cost expensive and a European warehouse might look like the next logical step?
You don’t need a European warehouse
Why spent a ton of money, time and resources managing two operations, double stock and additional European partners? Registrations, thresholds, clearances, customs and tax authorities can hold a big draw when you want to grow in a European market. Why would you need a European warehouse for your direct b-c ecommerce shipments into Europe?
The way I see it, the cross-border ecommerce sellers has for too long focused on the need for an integrator solution or mail service to “get with the program” and have neglected the simple fact that it is you who actually chooses which global shipping solution gets adopted in the checkout. Of course, you need some kind of volume for a direct infeed and last mile via a domestic network, but duties and taxes and local regulations are a big draw ‘pushing’ cross-border ecommerce sellers back to the integrator solution or slow mail service.
Do you really want to sell into the 300+ million European e-shopper’s markets? Or? Are you just offering a shipping solution? As you might have guessed, it’s more complicated than putting something in Google translate and getting international shipping packaging. Is your company up to the daunting task of expanding or growing to a whole new European market?
Amazon looks like a good, simple and easy start when you are not familiar how Europe works. If that’s your strategy, it’s nearly impossible to really built your brand in Europe or stop with Amazon in Europe and finally trying to localize your European sales channels.
After starting with Amazon, it is even harder to get European visitors to your .com website and start building a customer relationship. Eventually your European customers only know you and your products from Amazon (also known as the world’s biggest product search engine), only looking for the best prices. Don’t let Amazon steal your marketing dollars and start selling direct b-c from your .com website.
Do you want to stay in control of your ‘last mile’ and customer journey? Do you still want to be flexible, cost competitive, complaint and would like to get a more in-depth insight for your current and future European sales strategy?
Contact us via our website or send an email to email@example.com and we are more than happy to schedule a call how we can help you doing more business in Europe and how to increase your European sales in a compliant way.