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Safe Products in Online Commerce: Guideline for Manufacturers, Importers and Retailers

(in German)

In 2017, e-commerce in Germany achieved a net turnover of approximately 49 billion Euros, which accounted for approximately 10 per cent of all retail turnover. The 100 biggest online retailers accounted for almost 50 per cent of this figure. Together, the turnover generated by Amazon, Otto and Zalando was equivalent to the turnover of all the other retailers occupying the positions 4 to 100. In addition, there are tens of thousands of other small and very small online shops.

Every year, unsafe and non-conforming products appear on the single European market and are sold to consumers. Some of these products are purchased from pri-vate or commercial retailers at online shops because the customer is unaware of the safety issues or the possible consequences associated with them. In 2017 alone, the German Federal Grid Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) withdrew some 460,000 unsafe electrical appliances from the market in their remit of responsibility, and the German customs authorities raised objections with respect to another 240,000 products. These included mains plugs that pose a fire risk and lamps that interfere with radio reception. Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and others are now cooperating with the competent authorities. The retailers usually remove the offending items from their product ranges. Operators of smaller online shops, by contrast, are often unaware of their obligations.

This “baua: Guidance” brochure provides support for the operators of such businesses. It is intended for online-only retailers, small businesses with associated web shops, and low-volume manufacturers who offer their hand-made lamps or knitted gloves via the online portal DaWanda, for example.

This brochure intends to raise awareness for product safety among the market participants. It provides an overview of the statutory obligations of manufacturers, representatives, importers and retailers in the e-commerce sector. These obligations include the labelling and cooperation obligations that are stipulated in the laws and regulations, for instance. They apply to stationary and electronic retail, small online shops and large trading platforms.

This brochure primarily provides guidance on products sold online that are subject to the German Product Safety Act (Produktsicherheitsgesetz). These include technical equipment, large-scale electrical or mechanical machines, articles of daily use, toys and sports equipment such as bicycles, for example. The online retail of foodstuffs, animal feed, medical devices or plant protection products is not covered in this bro-chure, however. These products are subject to other statutory regulations.

Please download the complete brochure "Safe Products in Online Commerce" (in German only).

Bibliographic information

Sichere Produkte im Onlinehandel: Wegweiser für Hersteller, Einführer und Händler. 
1. edition. Dortmund: 2018. 
ISBN: 978-3-88261-243-1, pages 40, paper, PDF file, DOI: 10.21934/baua:praxis20180103

Further Information