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New Distribution Rules in the EU as of mid-2023

From June 2023, businesses in Europe have to implement new rules intended to protect fair competition within the European Single Market – The Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER).

These updated rules contain some critical changes for online sales:

  1. They allow suppliers to sell their goods to retailers at different wholesale prices depending on the distribution channel (dual pricing).
  2. Suppliers are now allowed to apply different (even stricter) criteria to online sales than those for sales by retailers in brick-and-mortar shops.
  3. Suppliers can ban retailers from selling their products via online marketplaces, as long as other online sales channels remain available for the seller, e.g., their own webshop.

Our colleagues in Europe – the Ecommerce Europe – is worried that these changes will make online selling more complicated, increase the dependency of SMEs on brands and manufacturers, and can lead to discrimination by suppliers against online selling – hurting the growth potential and digitalisation of SMEs and also retail in general. Although these rules are unlikely to effect many African ecommerce businesses exporting to the EU, if you are concerned let me know ([email protected]) and we will raise your concerns with our European colleagues.

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Alastair Tempest

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