Customs, E-Commerce, Newsroom, VAT | 7. February 2023

E-Commerce sales exceed 100 billion EUR

E-commerce is growing and shrinking. Violations of EU directives: Commission takes action against 25 member states. New French One-Stop-Shop and national business register simplify business processes. Despite staff growth, air cargo in Germany declines by 9%. by

E-commerce sales of goods and services again exceed 100 billion euros

In 2022, German e-commerce saw an 8.8% year-on-year decline in goods sales to €90.4 billion, according to a press release from the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (bevh). Digital services such as holiday bookings and concert tickets, on the other hand, grew by 39.9% to €11.25 billion. Despite this decline, online sales of goods still increased by 24.5% compared to 2019. The overall market share of e-commerce in retail sales also fell. Still, customer satisfaction with online shopping remained high, he said. The President of the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association assumes that e-commerce will continue to grow if the general conditions and consumer climate improve.

In 2022, e-commerce sales growth in Germany varied by product and type of seller. Products that are more challenging to put off, such as large household appliances and toys, recorded growth of over 100 million euros. On the other hand, items such as clothing, shoes and books had seen a decline in sales. The development of turnover also varied according to the type of seller. While the mail-order business saw declines, online pure players and manufacturers fared better. They expanded their share of e-commerce, despite the pandemic and the Ukraine war. Martin Groß-Albenhausen, Deputy Chief Executive of bevh, assumes that those who have used e-commerce for their daily needs will continue to shop online.

76% of customers ordered regularly online, according to the 2022 survey, more than ever before. Although the number of frequent shoppers declined slightly, customer satisfaction with the ordering process remained at 96.7%. The majority of customers were either “very satisfied” (80.3 %) or “satisfied” (16.4 %) with the ordering process. The number of customers who would like to spend less money online increased in the second quarter, but remained at 29.8% by the end of the year. The number of customers who would like to spend more money online, on the other hand, declined over the course of the year. Nevertheless, it rose again in the fourth quarter and reached the same level as in 2019 and 2020 (9.1 %).

The bevh expects e-commerce to grow faster than the overall market, with an increase of 4.8% by the end of 2023. The reason for this could be the advantages of digital shopping, such as better service, transparency, and availability.

EU Commission takes action to ensure full and timely implementation of EU directives

The European Commission is taking action against 25 EU countries because they would not comply with the implementation of EU laws, the so-called “directives”. These directives concern taxation, justice and public health. The EU Commission has sent these countries a letter of formal notice. It is giving them two months to respond and complete the transposition. If they fail to do so, the Commission can take further measures and sanctions.

The basis of this, he said, is that the EU has introduced new rules to combat tax evasion through digital platforms such as websites and apps. These “electronic interfaces” are now obliged to report information about the economic activities of their users to the European tax authorities. The deadline for all EU countries to implement these rules into national law was 31 December 2022. However, several countries still need to catch up and have already received reminders from the EU Commission.

This includes the introduction of the Injunctions Directive in the context of consumer protection. The directive is intended to enable consumer organisations to take legal action against companies or organisations on behalf of consumer groups harmed by illegal business practices.

The measures are also intended to advance the implementation of the recently amended regulations for testing specific types of agricultural plants and vegetables.

New French One-Stop-Shop and National Business Register

The French government has set up a one-stop shop for businesses. The new online portal allows all companies to register their formalities with competent authorities such as INSEE, social and tax authorities, etc. This service has been mandatory since 1 January 2023.

The new website is intended to simplify a company’s establishment, modification, or closure. As of 1 January 2023, this website is the only place companies have to turn to for their formalities. It replaces the old system and is intended to simplify business procedures, e.g. by using only one form instead of the previous 56 forms. This makes operations more efficient and convenient, and saves a considerable amount of paper.

The One-Stop-Shop offers personal support for all technical and legal questions. Although the basic use is free of charge, companies can also opt for personal advice or additional services for a fee.

The collected business information is now stored in a single national business register managed by the National Institute of Industrial Property and available free of charge. The new one-stop-shop aims to simplify businesses’ legal and administrative environment and better support businesses in their daily procedures.

Air cargo: German freight volume declining in 2022

In Germany, the amount of air cargo handled declined in 2022. The member companies of the Association of Air Cargo Handlers of Germany (VACAD) would have handled 1,766,739 tonnes, which would be 9% less than in the previous year. Despite the decline, the number of employees in the air cargo industry increased by 4%.

The decline in air freight was due to the Ukraine war, inflation and a flattening of the global economy, among other factors. However, after a record increase in 2021 due to the Corona crisis, demand for air freight has declined. It has been below pre-crisis levels since then.

The number of employees increased by 4% from 3,114 in 2021 to 3,269 in 2022, according to the VACAD report. However, despite the decline in air cargo handling, there remains a need to recruit more staff for air cargo handling, as air traffic is expected to increase after the end of the pandemic.

He said that growth also requires a willingness to adapt quickly to new situations. VACAD CEO Claus Wagner said security checks for applicants from abroad must be accelerated so that the sector can grow even faster in the future. He stressed the importance of air cargo handlers in ensuring German supply chains are connected to the global economy, calling them an “indispensable interface”.

Important customs issues 2023

Numerous changes in customs and foreign trade policy are planned for 2023. The software provider AEB has compiled the essential topics in the customs sector for this year: Important updates to software systems such as NCTS transit and ATLAS Export 3.0 will include new data models and additional functions, and the paper-based transit system will be replaced by NCTS in July 2023.

As a result, all countries participating in the NCTS must switch to phase 5 of the NCTS by December 2023. The changeover to ATLAS Export 3.0 is far-reaching and involves new information and codes. Paper processing with a simplified accompanying document (VBD) will be replaced by the end of 2023. The transit procedure for taxed goods will be digitised from February 2023. In addition, the electronic advance declaration for imports (ATLAS-IMPOST), which also includes a risk analysis for air freight, will be introduced in March 2023. Since the transitional period for the SAD expired in 2022, the electronic transmission of import and export declarations for bonded warehouses has been mandatory since then.

Problems with Amazon FBA shipping from the Czech Republic and Poland

Since 2 February, Amazon has been incorrectly shipping from the Czech Republic and Poland warehouses. However, only shipping from Germany is activated. There has been a lively exchange on this topic on the online retailer platform for several days.

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