Products on E-commerce Platforms Fail Safety Tests

A recent study on the key challenges in e-commerce and product safety has revealed shocking data.  The study purchased and evaluated 250 different products from e-commerce websites. Of these, 66% failed standard safety tests.

The European Commission tested several products sold on Ali Express, Amazon, Wish, and eBay to see how safe they are for end users. Shockingly, only less than half of the products passed the required safety tests. And 66% were not safe to use at home! (Click here)

 

Caption: Smoke alarm which doesn’t detect smoke, burnt Christmas lights, and a melted power bank: all purchased via an e-commerce platform and failing to pass safety tests.

Why don’t all online purchases ensure consumer safety?

The laws and regulations that govern e-commerce platforms are less stringent than those for local stores. As such, some of the products may not need to go through rigorous testing before they reach the consumer.

Often, the end user buys a product, say a power bank, without knowing that it’s not safe to use. Many people will be lucky and won’t face any issues. Over time, a few people might realize that the power bank is no good or is unsafe. They might inform the Amazon or Ali Express, and they might even get a refund. However, hundreds of others will have already purchased the same power bank.

Unless a very large number of customers are unhappy with the product and request a refund, the listing will likely stay up for a while. Or, a seller might take it down temporarily, only to sell the product again the future.

What regulations can help to better manage e-commerce safety?

There are three main regulations that we need to implement in order to ensure that all products that reach the end user follow safety requirements:

  1. Online marketplaces need to be held more accountable for the safety of their consumers. They must do voluntary checks for each product they sell on their platform.
  2. Marketplaces should also monitor their listings to flag any unsafe products. If found, they should be removed instantly, and sellers should face strict penalties.
  3. Future customers should be warned against certain products, based on experiences from other consumers.

The various regulating bodies, such as the European Commission must enforce these regulations to ensure consumer safety. However, consumers also have direct power in promoting and ensuring the safety and quality of the products they buy.