June 12, 2012, 9:12 AM

New Ecommerce Europe chairman vows to address online retailers' concerns

François Momboisse will focus on broadband penetration and underdeveloped markets.

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Consumer goods veteran and newly elected chairman of Ecommerce Europe François Momboisse says that he is encouraged by the current state of the online retail industry in Europe.

"Overall, the state of e-commerce in Europe is very good,” he says. “Steady two-digit growth in most countries, very high consumer satisfaction, and net creation of jobs."

However, Momboisse, who is also president of the French trade association for online trading, Fevad, highlights that there is wide disparity within the region.

"There are very big differences between the European member states. At the top end, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands enjoy a very high broadband and e-commerce penetration. At the other end, Bulgaria and Romania lag behind, simply because the Internet penetration is still very low."

Momboisse was elected chairman at the first general membership meeting of Ecommerce Europe—the newly created umbrella organization representing online retailers in the region—held in Barcelona on June 4 ahead of the Global Ecommerce Summit, a trade show.

His mission in his new role is to establish a strong relationship with members of the European Parliament and executives in the European Commission, to "promote e-commerce and better explain the needs of this growing sector."

Among the organization’s priorities, he said, are to tackle such issues as European policies regarding the use of cookies to track the online behavior of consumers, better Internet services in underdeveloped markets and the promotion of new sectors.

"My objective will be to provide members of Parliament and the Commission with a better understanding of our job, and of consumers' expectations and needs. We believe all areas have a strong potential for growth, based on what happens everywhere in the world. The regions that are still underdeveloped need broadband penetration growth, and we want to see that this is an objective that the Commission has clearly identified."

Momboisse adds that even in countries where e-commerce is well developed, there are new markets and sectors that still offer enormous potential for growth.

"Some very large European retailers still do not exploit the potential of e-commerce the way they could,” Momboisse says. “Look at the sale of groceries via the Internet for example. In the U.K. this is very well developed, but growth is still very modest elsewhere. This market alone has huge potential.”

Major U.K. supermarket chains Sainsburys and Tesco both sell on online. Tesco, No.3 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe Guide, had online sales of 4.21 billion euros (US $5.26 billion) last year, according to Internet Retailer estimates. Sainsbury, No. 11, had web sales of 1.21 billion (US $1.51 billion) euros, according to Internet Retailer estimates.

Momboisse also expects mobile commerce will play an increasingly important role in European e-commerce.

“A key growth driver for e-commerce in general will be mobile phone services, but they are still at a very early stage in Europe," Momboisse says.

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