E-commerce: revelations about e-commerce abuse and scams

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only overwhelmed our hospitals. All deliveries in France and Navarre also overheated. The numbers are clear: heavyweight Amazon saw its turnover jump 40% in the second quarter, and its French dolphin Cdiscount experienced the same growth from March to May. As for traditional brands, they stake everything in their online stores, while supermarkets run at full speed. Whether we rejoice or regret it, an irreversible change has taken place thanks to this health crisis.

Online commerce, which is already growing at a rate of 1% per year in total French consumption, will put growth two to three times higher this year. “This will likely represent between 13 and 14% of product sales in 2020, compared to 10% last year”, predicts Marc Lolivier, general manager of Fevad, the organization that represents major sites. “A portion of the population that is resistant to e-commerce is converting”, volume Laurent Thoumine, who manages the sector at Accenture. According to Kantar, from March to May, 2.6 million French bought clothes online for the first time.

In this context, big brands are making drastic changes, such as Spanish Inditex (Zara), which has announced its intention to close a thousand stores worldwide within two years, while estimating 2.7 billion euros in Internet sales. Trivialized, democratized, has the e-commerce model reached the age of rationality? Our investigation shows that this expansion is sometimes like the Wild West, attracting unscrupulous opportunists.

Goods, first of all, often leave something to be desired, whether they are products that do not comply with European standards or counterfeits. Due to the fact, online sales sites partially control their offer. This is the principle of the market place, or marketplace: Amazon and other large Web companies allow any company to register with a few clicks to sell its products to millions of customers. For the American leader, this shopping mall represents 58% of the products sold. With Cdiscount, this is 40% of the volume of business achieved. Who will be the first to benefit from this boom? We know that Asian wholesalers are quick to rush into this wide open door to the European market. Our surveys show the extent of this phenomenon: more than half of the bestsellers on Amazon.fr are Chinese companies. In addition to directly importing defective products, these merchants are also very quick to “forget” to charge VAT. This massive fraud costs 1 billion euros per year in France …

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Realm of ephemeral flash sale, ultra-elastic price, hypothetical delivery, online commerce allows all kinds of abuse. In the shadow of large, well -established sites, many small scams are breeding. The latest in fashion? The store claims to have liquidated its stock due to the post-Covid closure. Behind these false bargains hide cases of dropshipping: sellers sell directly imported products without managing stocks. These intermediaries are content to apply a layer of marketing varnish and pocket their rich margins along the way. Our guide helps you find your way around this maquis.

A permanent site for State agents, from the Finance Inspectorate to the DGCCRF (repression of fraud) by Customs, the dazzling development of online commerce is also a hot topic for local authorities. It is well known that the sector has created 200,000 direct jobs in France (Fevad figure), and without knowing how much it has damaged, many face themselves with a dilemma: whether or not to host a warehouse of Amazon. The concreting of the ground, the weakening of local trade, the not always popular carbon footprint of home delivery: environmental standards also weigh in on the decision. Should the moratorium on the construction of new shopping centers planned by the government be extended to giant warehouses? In the United States, malls, now deserted, are beginning to become logistics bases. You won’t find a better symbol of constant change.

>> Search online our complete file “E-commerce: revelations of abuse and online commerce scams”:

Online sales: beware of fake bargains!

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Chinese e-tailer’s VAT fraud has cost us billions

Pollution: the disastrous results of online sales

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