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Three Things European Union Customers Hate About Buying Products from Non-EU Websites

  • Written by Stephen Schwalger, CEO, The Byte Channel

The European Union's (EU) sweeping changes to its Value Added Tax (VAT) rules in 2021 have significantly impacted businesses operating in the economic bloc, particularly those based outside the EU. One key development is the abolition of the VAT exemption on low-value commercial goods imported into the EU, meaning that VAT is now applicable to all goods entering the region, regardless of their value.

Buying products from non-EU websites can often be a hassle for European customers. While the global marketplace offers a vast array of choices, certain pain points can turn the experience sour. Here are the top three things EU customers hate about purchasing from non-EU websites.

1. Hidden Costs and Import Duties

One of the biggest frustrations for EU customers is the unexpected costs that arise when buying from non-EU websites. These can include import duties, VAT at more than 20 per cent, and other handling fees that are often not clearly communicated at the time of purchase. Customers may think they are getting a great deal, only to find out at the delivery stage that they owe additional money to customs. This lack of transparency not only leads to financial surprises but also leaves a bad taste and can deter future purchases.

2. Long Delivery Times

Another major complaint is the long delivery times associated with shipping from outside the EU. While customers have become accustomed to quick delivery within the EU, orders from non-EU websites can take weeks or even months to arrive. This delay is often due to customs processing, longer shipping routes, and less efficient logistics. The waiting period can be particularly frustrating for customers who are used to the convenience of speedy delivery services offered by local or EU-based retailers.

3. Difficult Returns and Refunds

Returning products and obtaining refunds can be significantly more complicated when dealing with non-EU websites. EU customers value their consumer rights, which include straightforward return policies and the right to a refund. However, non-EU sellers often have less favourable return policies, longer processing times, and higher return shipping costs. Additionally, communication barriers and different business practices can make the returns process cumbersome and time-consuming, leading to a poor overall shopping experience.

Partnering with a VAT EU partner can solve these customer experience issues in several ways:

  1. Navigating the complexities of selling to EU customers can be challenging for non-EU businesses. Issues like hidden costs, long delivery times, and difficult returns can deter potential customers and harm your reputation. Partnering with an EU VAT agent can address these problems effectively, enhancing the shopping experience for your EU customers. Here some ways in which an EU VAT partner can help.

  1. Improving the customer experience and removing the hidden costs of buying - A VAT EU partner ensures that all VAT and import duties are calculated and included at the point of sale. By doing this, customers are fully aware of the total cost upfront, eliminating unpleasant surprises at delivery. VAT partners also assist in handling VAT registrations and filings, ensuring compliance with local tax laws and reducing the risk of fines and penalties.

  1. Reducing the delivery time - A VAT EU partner can streamline the customs clearance process by ensuring all documentation is correctly completed and submitted. This efficiency reduces delays at customs, speeding up delivery times. Moreover, VAT partners often collaborate with logistics companies to optimise shipping routes and times.

  1. Building a simple Returns and Refunds channel - VAT EU partners assist in creating clear and compliant return policies that meet EU regulations. They can set up local return addresses within the EU, simplifying the return process for customers. Additionally, they help manage VAT & refunds efficiently, ensuring customers receive their money back promptly.

Partnering with a VAT EU agent can transform the shopping experience for your EU customers by eliminating hidden costs, reducing delivery times, and simplifying returns. By addressing these common issues, Australasian businesses can build trust, enhance satisfaction, and ultimately grow their market share in the EU.


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