E-commerce retailers in Australia voluntarily pledge to improve product safety online

Amazon Australia, eBay Australia, Catch.com.au, and AliExpress have been named as the inaugural signatories.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday announced that four of Australia's e-commerce businesses have voluntarily committed to protecting consumers from unsafe goods sold online after signing the Australian Product Safety Pledge.

The voluntary initiative signed by Amazon Australia, eBay Australia, Catch.com.au, and AliExpress will see all four e-commerce retailers go beyond what is legally required of them to improve product safety online.

This will include implementing 12 product safety-related actions, such as removing unsafe product listings within two days of being notified by the ACCC; having an internal mechanism for processing data requests and take-downs of unsafe products; putting in place measures against repeat offenders selling unsafe products; and exploring the use of technologies to improve the detection and removal of unsafe products.

The inaugural signatories have also agreed to report annually on their performance, with the results to be published in an annual report by the ACCC.

The pledge was developed by the ACCC together with e-commerce signatories to address the challenges associated with managing product safety in a growing online shopping sector. It was modelled after similar initiatives in the European Union that were aimed at removing dangerous products from e-commerce businesses.

"This new initiative is an important step forward in ensuring businesses provide consumers with a safe and trusted online shopping experience," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

"The already fast growing e-commerce market in Australia has accelerated even more this year, as the pandemic meant people have had to do more of their shopping from home. With the boom in online shopping, it is more important than ever for businesses to prioritise product safety."

Read also: Map shows how COVID-19 has a major impact on e-commerce (TechRepublic)

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce shopping has skyrocketed with retailers such as Woolworths and Myer, for instance, seeing boosts in online sales. Meanwhile, Amazon Australia has continued to grow its fulfilment centre footprint in response to growing demand.

The ACCC said it would invite other online businesses that facilitate marketplace services or engage in online business with consumers to join the pledge over time.

"We applaud these signatories for signing up to the pledge and for confirming their commitment to protecting Australian consumers. We encourage them to continue to innovate to improve product safety," Rickard said.

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