Choice in eCommerce Interview

Web Retailer had the chance recently to catch up with Oliver Prothmann about his Choice in eCommerce initiative, which seeks to stop manufacturers and brand owners blocking sales of their products on eBay and other online marketplaces.

Web Retailer: What prompted you to start the "Choice in eCommerce" campaign?

Oliver Prothmann: As the founder of the Business-Dashboard tool chartixx and former eBay Inc. employee, I have been close to the business seller community for several years and has profound experience with doing business via online marketplaces. Over the last two years, I and many members of the seller community have become increasingly concerned by the negative impact of platform bans, especially on small and medium-sized sellers. As a marketplace expert, I discussed with merchants how to act against any kind of discrimination against eCommerce in order to preserve innovation and growth in the sector. Consequently, I launched the Choice in eCommerce Initiative in April after a workshop with several merchants in Berlin.

WR: What end result are you hoping to achieve?

OP: If online retailers can’t sell the products people want they go out of business. Even for shops that have a brick and mortar business these bans are blocking a major and low cost sales channel. These bans also damage innovation. Economic growth will be led by emerging technologies like mobile commerce, as more and more consumers want to shop online whenever, wherever they want. Choice in eCommerce wants to act as an intermediary between manufacturers, marketplaces and sellers. And Choice in eCommerce is about ensuring that all sellers, particularly SMEs, can benefit from a political and legal situation where sales bans on online platforms are not tolerated.

WR: What can small and medium-sized retailers gain from the campaign?

OP: A free market needs a free and fair online trade without restrictions and discriminations. An inclusive, integrated and fair European eCommerce retail landscape can lead to a win-win-win situation for manufacturers, sellers and marketplaces. These positive elements of eCommerce have to be preserved, and strengthened, for the benefit of sellers, manufacturers and consumers alike, but today they are under threat. Choice in eCommerce wants to be the voice of online sellers.

WR: Who is supporting you?

OP: The Initiative receive support from other industry stakeholders including, BVOH (Bundesverband Onlinehandel) and Hitmeister.de. We are very happy to have first supporters by Web Retailer, Tamebay and Linnworks in UK. Others will follow soon.

If anyone finds news about platform bans, please share with us. We are trying hard to get this topic more and more to public. Here you can find our news portal.

WR: What can our readers do to help?

OP: There are many possibilities for online retailers to fight for free trade and against restrictions. We have a list of actions that are easy to implement but have a big impact. Most important is that Choice in eCommerce has created a petition with the objective of ensuring that all online sellers, particularly SMEs, can benefit from a political and legal situation where sales bans on online platforms are not tolerated. Please, act now to help ensure that eCommerce remains a free and fair marketplace for all types of retail businesses and sign the petition.

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