Geoblocking in the EU: What merchants should know (for ePages Base)
Online merchants in the EU will have to comply with certain rules concerning shipping to other European countries in the future. We’ll guide you through the changes below.
This article is only valid for merchants of the shop version ePages Base. You can find an article for ePages Now customers here. To display your version, choose Help in the administration area of your shop in the main menu. The version is displayed at the bottom of the page (ePages Base or ePages Now).
With the ePages shop software you can easily sell abroad. This is practical as international trade becomes more and more attractive for small and medium-sized online merchants. By selling across borders, you can open up new markets.
However, some online merchants want to avoid shipping to certain countries and rely on a procedure called geoblocking. This may prevent, for example, some customers from accessing the shop at all, or prevent them from ordering products to a delivery address in a certain country. Some merchants display different prices to visitors from other countries.
15% of Europeans already order products in online shops from other EU countries. The European Union wants to increase this number and is committed to borderless, free trade within Europe. From 3 December 2018, the EU will therefore ban geoblocking and related practices. The specific aim of this regulation is to prevent unjustified discrimination in online purchases on the basis of the customer’s nationality, place of residence or business address.
Which merchants are affected by the new regulation?
The changes affect almost all online merchants based in the European Union. As a shop owner, you must ensure that you comply with the new regulation. One exception is shop operators who only sell digital products such as music downloads or e-books.
What is there to consider?
Among other things, merchants should pay attention to these points:
– Exclusion of customers who visit your shop from certain countries will be prohibited. However, this is not possible with ePages shop software anyway.
– You are not allowed to display different prices to customers from different countries. You also do not have this option with ePages shops anyway.
– You must make it possible for customers from all over the EU to buy something in your shop. Every EU country must be able to be specified as the billing address during the ordering process.
– Customers need to be able to specify a delivery address during the ordering process that differs from the billing address. This is possible by default with your shop.
– The fact that customers from other EU countries can buy from you does not mean that you have to ship to these countries. Instead, you can offer, for example, the option that customers can pick up the products at your office or shop – or that you ship them to a delivery address in your country. An example: You do not offer shipping of your products to the Czech Republic. It is still possible for customers from this country to place an order. However, customers cannot have the goods sent to their homes, but must either pick them up from your premises or have them sent to a delivery address in your country.
What steps do merchants need to take?
You should first consider which delivery methods you would like to offer for each country. In the simplest case, you only ship to the country where your shop is located.
Then follow these steps, which we will explain in more detail below:
– Include all EU countries in the list of allowed billing and delivery addresses for your shop.
– Determine to which countries you would like to ship your products. To do this, you can define regions in certain shop types that only cover the countries supported for shipping. If it is not possible to add regions to your shop, you can use an alternative method that is described below.
– Optionally, you can create the delivery method “Customer pickup”.
– Indicate any restrictions on your “Dispatch & delivery” page.
Allow all EU countries as billing and delivery addresses
1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings, then Country settings and then Countries.
2. In the last row of the table select a country that you would like to add. You can find a list of all countries within the European Union on the website of the EU.
3. Select Save.
4. To add another country go back to step 2.
If your shop supports regions: Define countries for shipping
These steps are only necessary if you want to define different conditions for shipping to different countries.
Defining regions is not possible with all shop types. If the page Regions is not displayed in the administration area of your shop under Settings >> Country settings, please jump to the section If your shop does not support regions: Name delivery methods correctly.
1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings, then Country settings and then Regions.
2. In the last row of the table enter a name for the new region – for instance Southern Europe.
3. Select Save.
4. Select the name of the region.
5. In the right column of the table select all countries that should be assigned to this region. You can only select countries that have previously been added under Settings >> Country settings >> Countries.
6. Select Save.
7. Now you can define in which regions the delivery methods of your shop can be used. Select in the main menu Settings and then Delivery.
8. Select one of the delivery methods from the table.
9. Under Allow usage for the following delivery addresses select the region.
10. Select Save.
These steps are only necessary if you would like to define different conditions for shipping to different countries.
Some smaller shop types do not support the “Regions” feature. In this case, we recommend that you offer your customers all the information they need in your shop on the “Dispatch & delivery” page. You can find instructions for editing pages in our Help center.
In addition, you should name shipping methods accordingly – for example as “Shipping within the UK”. In the main menu of your shop, select Settings, then Delivery and then the delivery method you would like to edit. Here you can change the name.
If a customer still chooses this delivery method when placing an order, you can reject the order or contact the buyer. You may then be able to negotiate with him to collect the goods yourself or have them shipped under different conditions.
Optional: Define “Customer pickup” as shipping method
If this option is not yet available in your shop, you can add customer pickup as a delivery method.
1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings and then Delivery.
2. Select Add.
3. Under Logistics vendors, the option User-defined delivery method needs to be selected.
4. Under Type, Free Delivery must be selected.
5. Under Name in Shop enter a name for this delivery method – for instance “Customer pickup”.
6. Select Add.
7. Under Visible select the option Yes.
8. If you want to you can select under Allow usage for the following delivery addresses a region in which customer pickup should be available.
9. If you want to you can enter under Comment a description for this delivery method. Here you can mention for instance where customers can pick up their orders.
10. You can also take care of further settings here.
11. Select Save.
Specifying possible restrictions in your shop
You can offer your customers information on this on your page about delivery. To do this, select in the administration area in the main menu Content / Categories and then Content preview. On the left side under Pages you can select the page that you would like to edit.
9 further questions and answers
Does anything change in my shop software or the shop itself?
No, nothing will change in your shop software and your shop.
Do I have to offer my shop in several languages due to the geoblocking regulation?
No, that is not necessary.
Do I have to adapt my general terms and conditions?
No, that is not necessary.
Do I have to change something regarding the prices in my shop?
The geoblocking regulation does not affect the pricing of your shop.
Can the shipping costs vary from country to country?
Yes, that is allowed.
Is there anything to consider about taxes?
No, you do not have to make any changes to your tax settings.
Is there a higher risk of fraud if I allow orders from across the EU?
No. If you want to, you can offer only payment methods that ensure that the goods are paid for in advance.
To which countries does my logistics company deliver?
Most large logistics companies deliver to all EU countries, but sometimes at different prices. Please check for yourself which options are available with the individual providers.
I have set up different shops for different countries. Am I allowed to direct customers to the right shop for their country?
This is only permitted if customers can switch to the other shops at any time.
Note: This article contains initial legal information, but makes no claim to completeness and accuracy. Under no circumstances can it replace legal advice in individual cases.