Online shopping strong and growing despite the crisis

12 April 2010

Jakub Ruiz, Krzysztof Korwin-Kossakowski

The online shopping market is growing in Poland despite the economic crisis. Around 16 million Poles have access to the internet and 10% of Polish customers shop online. Poles have started to save money as the recession continues and tend, therefore, to shop via e-stores, where the prices are up to 20% lower than those of standard outlets, according to Eric McCloskey of the Boston Consulting Group advisory firm in the article for Rzeczpospolita.

The report presented by IAI-Shop.com, states that in the first half of 2009, 32.11% of Polish e-stores reported an increase in sales in comparison with the equivalent period of last year. Internet Standard reports that around 40% of e-stores in Poland declared that they have not suffered a decline in sales, and around two-thirds of online stores expected their revenues to have increased in 2009 (E-commerce 2009 report). In the first half of 2009 average sales revenues per store came to PLN 430,000 (EUR 103,000) and the average number of online transactions increased from around 800 in the first half of 2008 to almost 1,000 in the corresponding period of 2009.

As for electronic appliances, the leading Polish online retailer, Agito.pl, declared net revenues of PLN 180m (EUR 43.5m) in 2008. The runner-up was Euro.com.pl with new revenues of PLN 160m (EUR 38.6m) in 2008 (Internet Standard, E-commerce 2009 report). Also electronic appliance chains have been developing online sales. RTV Euro AGD has already launched an online store in Poland. Other major players, like Media Markt, are considering launching an online store in Poland in the near future.

Auction portals can be used as a platform for selling new electronic appliances as well. And even though online retailers claim that auction portals are still too expensive and do not provide proper IT solutions to manage sales on a more extensive scale, they can be easily used as an effective marketing tool.

However, online retailers should remember the number of legal requirements attached to e-shopping. One of the most important requirements is to provide consumers with proper information. According to Article 9 of the Polish Act on protection of certain consumer rights and on the liability for damage caused by a dangerous product, the consumer should be informed in an easy to read, clear and unequivocal way, by making use of any means of communication at a distance, and latest at the moment of making an offer to conclude the contract, about basic information regarding inter alia the vendor (its name and address), terms and conditions of the transaction and relevant characteristics of the performance and its subject matter.

Recently the President of the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection imposed severe penalties on several e-shops for not complying with customer information requirements. The penalties included a fine of up to EUR 10,000 for each day of delay in complying with appropriate legal requirements. The President’s decision was challenged, but the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection upheld it stating that the fine was adequate and imposed with accordance to respective regulations.

Authors

Kuba Ruiz

Counsel
Poland

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