It has been reported that the European Commission (the “Commission”) is asking retailers to detail the difficulties they face while trying to sell their products online, as part of the lengthy questionnaires sent to the retailers following the launch of the Commission’s e-commerce sector inquiry[1]  This is the second batch of questionnaires issued by the Commission, which kicked off its inquiry by sending questionnaires to content owners of movies, TV, music and sports.

The inquiry into the e-commerce sector was launched on 6 May 2015 by the Commission, as the Commission believed that companies who engage in selling via the internet may be employing methods to restrict online trade with the aim, in particular, of territorial fragmentation and restriction of price competition. For further information on inquiry, read our briefing here.

The Commission is looking to determine the nature of contracts and terms faced by retailers that have the potential of hindering the sales of products across different online platforms. The Commission has asked the retailers to provide details on the restrictions linked to a customer’s location, price differences based on the sales channel and/or location, price margins, etc. It is understood that the product groups targeted by the Commission include, but are not limited to, clothing, electronics, computer games, digital media, e-books, cosmetics, and home ware.