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eBay Urges Rethink On EU Plan's "Brick and Mortar" Vendor Requirement

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the them-as-has-gits dept.

Businesses 139

mernil writes with this snippet from Reuters: "According to a draft regulation drawn up by the European Commission and seen by Reuters, suppliers may be allowed to require that distributors have a 'brick-and-mortar' shop before they can sell online. The proposed rules would replace existing guidelines exempting companies from strict EU competition rules under certain circumstances. Those rules expire at the end of May."

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No words (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202638)

Living in a EU country and while lately I've been happy with EU's decisions, this is just bullshit. Not just because of eBay, but because there are several online stores in my country too that only have a website and warehouse. This includes the online stores that sell at lower price than you can find in stores and specialized stores like funny items and hot spices, hot sauces and specialized stores that import oversears and sell here.

Some of the items you can't just on normal stores. This is bullshit.

Re:No words (2, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202770)

I can't imagine what they want that provision for, unless, somehow it makes collecting taxes easier. Then it's just plain laziness.
If its pressure from brick and mortar stores, then it's unfair competition. Any insights as to this backward reasoning?

Don't let the States hear about this (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202832)

People have been ducking sales tax in the US by buying online because you generally have to have a physical presence in a state to be required to remit sales tax. I say people, and not businesses/web vendors, since most states have a "use tax" which applies to anything purchased out of state and used within the state, and very few people ever pay the use tax since there is no reporting.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (2, Informative)

P-Nuts (592605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202904)

But that's because sales tax is really complicated in the USA. In the EU there's only VAT (the rates vary between the countries, but it's one tax at one rate within each country). You can't get out of paying it just by buying online.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203098)

Exactly, and you have to remember that every individual country in the in the EU is still, well, their own country. They have great interest in looking after taxes and different languages create even more problems, and not even starting on that international money transfers are even easier to spot for taxing agencies. I really don't think it's about taxes - USA with its states could be so, but EU really is completely different system.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203424)

You can avoid it if you buy low-value things from outside the EU, e.g. from play.com, which is based in Jersey.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204480)

But that's because sales tax is really complicated in the USA.

Really? You think sales tax is complicated? I guess division was a brain buster for you too, huh?

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204524)

Every state has their own sales tax. Counties can have their own tacked onto that. Cities can add their own on top of THAT.

Then there are special rates for certain items like vehicles, some items are non-taxable, some are taxable after $X...

Yep, sure is simple as 1+1.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204760)

Then there are special rates for certain items like vehicles, some items are non-taxable, some are taxable after $X...

Other than some items being non-taxable (only food that I've ever heard of), show me proof of the others, because I've never heard of such a thing.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (2, Informative)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204898)

From: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/business/business_tax_nys_sales.shtml [nyc.gov]

City sales tax is imposed on the purchase of clothing and footwear costing $110 or more per item or pair as of August 1, 2009.

And not precisely what I said about vehicle purchase, but vehicle related: "On Item 10 above, the City imposes a 6 percent tax and an additional 8 percent surtax (on parking, garaging, or storing motor vehicles in Manhattan)."

I imagine you can find more on your own, using such Google terms as " Vehicle Sales Tax Rate"

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205170)

Look up the rates in TX. My understanding is that vehicles are taxed only by the state, and so the cities don't have their markup. And there are a lot of places that tax restaurant food, tobacco, alcohol, rental cars, hotel rooms, and such differently. Though mail order of most of those is impractical or illegal.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202906)

People have been ducking sales tax in the US by buying online because you generally have to have a physical presence in a state to be required to remit sales tax. I say people, and not businesses/web vendors, since most states have a "use tax" which applies to anything purchased out of state and used within the state, and very few people ever pay the use tax since there is no reporting.

Bullshit. Flat out bullshit. If I buy something at a brick and mortar store, yes, sales tax should apply because infrastructure is used (local roads, fire, police, etc) for the store. But if I buy something online, sales tax *shouldn't* apply if that infrastructure isn't used (interstate roads are paid by tolls or fuel taxes, not sales taxes). If sales tax means stores can't compete, so be it.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203052)

Sales tax is still paid anyway on infrastructure used. The shipping company is (presumably) charging sales tax on the shipping price to the company sending it.

And since they have a presence in each state, they will pay the appropriate tax rate to cover whatever their share of the state infrastructure costs are.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204026)

the shipping company provides a service; no sales tax is involved.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203092)

So why should people living in the same state as the warehouse pay sales tax on their purchase? (I believe this is what happens.)

Also, you maybe covered roads (ignoring that you don't live on an interstate etc), but you didn't cover fire, police, or any of the other things sales tax pays for.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203792)

its VAT Value added tax with no Hypothecation, it would make running a business in the states much simpler if you followed this model.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (2, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203226)

unless you are licensing something purely digital, that's not really true.

If you are buying a physical 'good', presumably it still actually needs to be transported to where you physically are.

I supposed if they have a large enough trebuchet, they could get around using roads...

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31204392)

In fact, you've just presented a decent argument in favour of paying sales tax to the State you ordered from, the State it was delivered to, and possibly every State in between.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204118)

Good Point.
        But, then the fed is constitutionally assigned the job of regulating interstate commerce and collecting tariffs on imports. Arguably I would rather pay a regulated tax on commerce to pay for local infrastructure than continue to fund the fed with an unconstitutional income tax that isn't supposed to be around anymore anyway.
      (I can feel a whole other conversation about national debt and value of the dollar boiling out there. Seriously, it would be better to trash it all, blow off the debt and start all over again. I couldn't give a damn how far back that sets civilization. Better to be free and in turmoil than safe and a slave.)

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203818)

People have been ducking sales tax in the US by buying online because you generally have to have a physical presence in a state to be required to remit sales tax. I say people, and not businesses/web vendors, since most states have a "use tax" which applies to anything purchased out of state

I think in most states even regular people are required to declare what they buy online and pay the use tax. It's that way in the state in which I live but no one does it. We had a 1% sales tax increase recently because people haven't been buying as much due to the recession but hey I'm sure when things do pick back up they will repeal that increase just like they did with income tax way back in the day... O right, that never happened.. I think the government has a tumor and we need some chemo to shrink it...

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204562)

Sort of like how they instituted a special tax on alcohol here in Pennsylvania to help Johnstown after their big flood... about a hundred years ago. It's now up to 18% from I think 7% initially, and going into a general fund now as opposed to helping the region.

Re:Don't let the States hear about this (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204004)

So far, it's like that on purpose. Although several states are pushing for "net" tax on purchases.
        I think the time will come to choose between state tax and income tax. Provision was made long ago for a weak Federal government living off tariffs on imports. Not only would that make for a better U.S.,a return to constitutional values, but I think the world would more appreciate our role, minding our own business within our borders.

Re:No words (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203358)

I'll roughly quote an advert I've seen a lot on London Underground trains recently:

"Stroll into the plush interior of the most expensive high-street audio shop. Let the smartly dressed assistant demonstrate the beauty of the latest surround sound system.
Then but it online from ____" (I can't remember the company.)

The provision is meant to protect high-street shops being beaten on price by online-only retailers.

Note that it's only a draft anyway, so it'll probably be changed.

Re:No words (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203926)

I see.
          When dinosaurs couldn't adapt,they at least had the common courtesy to fossilize while more fit beasts took care of earths maintenance. Only displacing the inevitable for a short bit. Maybe they will wise up and put up websites. No need to drag down the whole EU for one street of merchants. Well, perhaps in other cities as well.
(cue Dylans "Times, They are a Changin')

Re:No words (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203920)

Makes it easier for buyers to go to a real place when the appl^h^h^h^shit-hardware they just bought* turns out to be failing for no apparent reason. We've had WAY too many cases in Europe where buyers have been left high-n-dry by internet-only "stores".

*: Yeah, my USB-Ethernet just turned out be non-functional - yay, now to track down official representatives in Belgium.

Re:No words (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203726)

straneg still if this passes the is a business opertunity running a B&M store for internet retailers :-)

a big wharehouse and a few clerks, oh soory sir yes the unmade up road is on our to fix list and yes Famer Jones should realy have fixed that gate but i'me shure those dents from that champaion bull will buff right out.

Re:No words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203846)

I lived in Germany for the past four years and while it's a beautiful country with lots of nice things to see, it is a pain-in-the-a$$ to "live" there. Prices and regulations are ridiculous, try to go shopping on Sunday. See what you end up paying for an item (after currency conversion) in a store, compared to what it sells for on-line (include S&H), on average it’s anywhere between $50 - $100 dollars more. Example, need a color printer pronto? Go to a local store and pay anywhere from 100 - 160 Euros for a $99 dollar printer you could purchase on-line.
I wonder how these EU country’s can even keep pace with the world economy when they refuse to adapt to a modern world when they want to hang onto the traditions of these little “mom & pop” shops that can’t compete. So the EU enacts all these crazy anti-completive laws as not to drive them out of business, but all it does is stifle people from spending on the local economy and going elsewhere for purchases.

Re:No words (0, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203942)

Well, most of the EU countries actually have better income and hence higher prices too. I don't really know how they manage that, but it seems like it's a good model compared to US's.

Re:No words (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204068)

How they manage is quite easy to explain, money goes around and that's all what counts.

Or do you suggest 100 items sold at € 50.- is better for the economy than 50 items at € 100.-?

Re:No words (1)

thoughtfulbloke (1091595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204686)

Or do you suggest 100 items sold at 50.- is better for the economy than 50 items at 100.-?

Well, 100 items sold suggests there are about double the number people active in the economy than 50 items sold. Participation in the economy is linked to economic health. So, in general, more trade is better for the economy than less trade.
The assumes that an economy is for connecting people and resources, and not just an extension of the modern financial markets. In a purely fiscal view 100 @ 50 vs. 50 @ 100 would make no difference.

Re:No words (0, Troll)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204878)

I'd really like to know where this myth comes from. The median household income of most EU nations is lower than the US. And Europeans have the added hit of extremely high taxes, the VAT, income taxes, etc. although Americans seem to generally be hit harder with property taxes. But the fact remains that Americans have far more disposable income than people of most nations. Of course this results in Americans not spending their money as wisely.

Re:No words (1)

Ruede (824831) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203884)

it says may be allowed.

any sane manufacturer would not do that.

Re:No words (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203982)

They have a warehouse, so they can easily make a brick and mortar one out of it. Nobody says it has to be cheaper or easy accesible or even customer friendly. Just make a store the size of a phone booth and explain clearly that it will be more expensive if they buy stuff there and the service will be lousy.

Re:No words (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205404)

I have a simple solution that is guaranteed to piss off these paper-pushers: You get a tiny little kiosk somewhere, with one person working in it, and all they do is take orders to be shipped somewhere else. No inventory whatsoever, but it's a physical presense for that company. :-)

eBay is the devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31202660)

eBay is the devil

WTF (5, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202736)

This is one of the dumbest ideas I've heard out of a politico in a long, long time.

Re:WTF (2, Insightful)

twrake (168507) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202782)

Just wait a dumber one is on the way!

Re:WTF (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203002)

Yes, I understand that a bill is before Congress in the US requiring parents to wrap their children in bubble wrap until they're 18 years old.

GOSHDAMNIT, THINK OF THE CHILDREN, YOU SELFISH BASTARDS!

Re:WTF (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203064)

No way. Spheres of unobtainium floating in renewable vegatable oil fluid to cushion all possible shocks. Nothing bad can possibly get in.

Re:WTF (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203456)

But nothing good can get in either. We should just dive right in and go straight for Borg maturation chambers.

Re:WTF (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203864)

But nothing good can get in either. We should just dive right in and go straight for Borg maturation chambers.

Sounds like a plan. Nothing's too good for the children.

Re:WTF (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204018)

They can't figure out how to tax people into the dirt. So that's how they're going to do it.

Luxury Brands? (3, Interesting)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202778)

From the article

Brand owners - often in the high-end or luxury segment - say the provision is necessary to stop so-called free riders, competitors who benefit from promotions carried out by brand name companies, shifting stock online on the back of advertising of a brand's products and services.

Because "free riders" do not have to pay for the costs of a shop and related overheads, they can frequently offer brand-name products over the Internet at discounted prices.

"The purpose of a brick-and-mortar shop provision is to help retailers invest in luxury shops," said Antoine Winkler, a partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton who represents several brand name companies.

I'm slightly confused. Are they doing this to help the brick-and-mortar stores? Are they doing this to help the brands? I'm confused. It sounds like they are trying to take down low-overhead companies because they are too efficient. Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202818)

Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

The brink and motor and/or brands are paying the politicians more?

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202824)

I'm slightly confused. Are they doing this to help the brick-and-mortar stores? Are they doing this to help the brands? I'm confused. It sounds like they are trying to take down low-overhead companies because they are too efficient. Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

        If you owned a mom-and-pop store, I think that you would see it as a good idea.

      I don't defend the concept that they are promoting, but clearly, that's one obvious example of a group that would see this as a good idea.

        Brett

Re:Luxury Brands? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202934)

What's to stop Mom and Pop from starting a website instead? There's a difference between being unable to compete, and being unwilling to compete.

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203282)

Random website on the internet competing with megacorps on the internet

versus

Random shop down the street competing with megacorps 5 miles away.

Existing physical presence is invaluable when you're small. It's usually not worth it to buy a physical shop if you don't already have one, but if you already exist, keeping your physical shop open is vital.

Starting a website instead is a terrible idea.
You could surf the internet for years without coming across their site.
Existing customers can't drive around town without seeing their physical shop.

Starting a website in addition is a great idea, and is typically what is done.

As always, location is key. If you have a viable physical presence, keep it. If you don't have a viable web presence, you're not gonna get one now. Try again in 1995.

Re:Luxury Brands? (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204882)

Your post really doesn't make much sense.

Random website on the internet competing with megacorps on the internet

versus

Random shop down the street competing with megacorps 5 miles away.

Existing physical presence is invaluable when you're small. It's usually not worth it to buy a physical shop if you don't already have one, but if you already exist, keeping your physical shop open is vital.

Starting a website instead is a terrible idea.
You could surf the internet for years without coming across their site.
Existing customers can't drive around town without seeing their physical shop.

A physical shop doesn't make any sense if you have a niche market. I was just looking at a website yesterday that appears to be run by one guy, and he sells parts and supplies to refurbish vintage arcade machines, or to build custom arcade machines. What kind of moron thinks this guy would stay in business one month if he had to buy commercial storefront space and signage? No one "driving by" is going to care about vintage arcade machines, no matter how great his location is, but on the internet, I'm sure he's able to find thousands of customers across the world who buy his parts.

As for "surfing for years without coming across their site", that's why Google was invented. I find small businesses on the web all the time with simple Google searches, or by clicking on Google ads.

The key, however, is what you're selling. If you're stupid enough to try to compete directly with Wal-Mart on name-brand stuff made in China, you're going to lose. You can't cut your margins thin enough to survive as a small operation on products like that, with so much competition out there from established retailers. The only way small mom-n-pop online businesses survive is by finding niche markets, such as spare parts for vacuum cleaners or somesuch, or custom-made products that can't be found anywhere else.

Re:Luxury Brands? (4, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202972)

If you owned a mom-and-pop store, I think that you would see it as a good idea.

And if you owned a mom-and-pop online store, I think you would see it as a horrible idea.

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204160)

Of course. I didn't imply otherwise.

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205034)

Mom and pop stores are going to go away. It's just cheaper for mom and pop to sell online and if governments care so much about the environment they'd support this transition rather than expecting everyone to have a physical shop. Protecting outdated models never works.

Re:Luxury Brands? (2, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202844)

From the article

Brand owners - often in the high-end or luxury segment - say the provision is necessary to stop so-called free riders, competitors who benefit from promotions carried out by brand name companies, shifting stock online on the back of advertising of a brand's products and services.

Because "free riders" do not have to pay for the costs of a shop and related overheads, they can frequently offer brand-name products over the Internet at discounted prices.

"The purpose of a brick-and-mortar shop provision is to help retailers invest in luxury shops," said Antoine Winkler, a partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton who represents several brand name companies.

I'm slightly confused. Are they doing this to help the brick-and-mortar stores? Are they doing this to help the brands? I'm confused. It sounds like they are trying to take down low-overhead companies because they are too efficient. Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

I don't know either. Is the next move to mandate that companies selling "luxury" brands must locate their store in a high-rent part of town too? I mean it just can't be fair if they set up a shop in the bad part of town and pay a fraction of the rent that the luxury stores pay, right? I'm not sure where this madness would end...

Re:Luxury Brands? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31204728)

The EU is not requiring that there is a brick-and-mortar store. The luxury brands themselves are doing. It's just that the EU used to prohibit them from discriminating against online retailers. Now they are letting luxury brands make that choice if they feel like it's worth it for their brand image. I don't see why there's such an uproar on slashdot.

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204918)

The EU is not requiring that there is a brick-and-mortar store. The luxury brands themselves are doing. It's just that the EU used to prohibit them from discriminating against online retailers. Now they are letting luxury brands make that choice if they feel like it's worth it for their brand image. I don't see why there's such an uproar on slashdot.

Probably because TFA does a piss poor job of explaining that. Even after reading your explanation I'm still left wondering if this change only applies to luxury brands or everyone. I'm fine with the supplier getting to choose who they sell to, but the rules should be the same for everyone, and that's hardly clear here.

Re:Luxury Brands? (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203402)

"According to a draft regulation drawn up by the European Commission and seen by Reuters, suppliers may be allowed to require that distributors have a "brick-and-mortar" shop before they can sell online."

First sentence in the article.

The law would allow suppliers to require the retail stores to have a brick and mortar location before they sell, something I gues they aren't allowed to do now. This actually sounds like the EU saying "ok, you can refuse to sell to people who don't fit your business model", which sounds fine to me.

Re:Luxury Brands? (3, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203666)

As a EU citizen, I expect Commission will soon figure they did something _really_ stupid _again_. Therefore, next provision will enable *SOME* shops (enumerated in 1200 pages book) to remain online-only. For enumerating all privileged online shops and nagotieting per-member country number, European Online Retail Agency will be established (EORA) in, say, Rome, with huge building and army of translators and other staff.

Re:Luxury Brands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203900)

Without RTFA, I'd guess that it is trying to address the issue of false efficiencies. The online store aren't as efficient as they appear. Take clothing for example, who goes to a real store, tries on branded clothes and then goes home and orders it online. This is a cost to the bricks and mortar stores that the online stores should actually pay.

However, the approach doesn't seem like a good way of addressing this sort of issue.

Re:Luxury Brands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31204724)

It sounds like they are trying to take down low-overhead companies because they are too efficient. Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

I sold mobile phones in a store for a while. Sometimes, people would speak to a direct seller who could offer a cheaper deal. The direct seller would advise them to come into our store so they could check out the phones to find one they like, having already offered them something that we couldn't match. So they would be wasting my time and my employers resources and the direct seller was using our store as a "free" sales aid.

I see that the proposed law allows suppliers to impose this condition. Having had to deal with the customers of direct sellers who didn't understand that their customer service is also provided (or not) by that direct seller (rather than our store providing them free customer service while another company took all the profit), I've got to say I can see a benefit to this, even if not in every circumstance.

Re:Luxury Brands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31204730)

They're doing this to kill unfair competition, see the shoe industry scandal, a few months ago, caused by the chinese, with the current economical crisis it's a good time to kill of those third parties that just increase the prices ...

Re:Luxury Brands? (0)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205090)

Does anyone know why this would be a good idea?

Because we are losing the fabric on which our communities have been based on, and replacing it with an ultra-materialistic future where few ever have to leave their house or interact with people in person, jobs and products become homogenized, and the people who are best in a position to serve their community are unable to because of the artificially low prices of online retailers (which I can only assume will cause economic and social problems when the alternatives to online shopping have been removed - see Wal*Mart, for example).

I'm not a Luddite, and I even use Amazon fairly frequently, and I know this is a bit of a slippery-slope argument, but it is not one without merit. We are destroying our past without coming up with decent alternatives for the future.

Re:Luxury Brands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31205548)

Q: Why would this be a good idea?
A: To make the monetary systems collapse and prevent normal people from making a living so they die off.

not the end of the world (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202790)

of course its anticompetitive bullshit, i guess department stores are adapting music industry tactics, complete with buying off legislators

but it would be pretty neat to have an "eBay" showroom

ebay could pick the wackiest shit: jesus on toast, my 7 year old's baby teeth, this obscene and bizarre plastic thing i bought in bangkok 3 years ago, etc., and put it on prominent display, like million dollar art work. purposefully play off a contrived vibe of reverence and awe, for really crappy mundane shit. it could be funny

then you can only buy certain stuff at say, 11 am sharp

and during checkout, if the guy behind you gives the clerk 10 cents more than your price while you are still reaching for your cash, he gets it instead

Re:not the end of the world (2, Funny)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203040)

ok that actualy sounds like it would be fun to spend a morning at...

but don't forget (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203786)

security guards would not allow you to leave the eBay showroom until you shout "A++++ WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN!!!"

Re:not the end of the world (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204316)

So basically that eBay showroom would be a flea market [wikipedia.org] or yard sale?

But imagine (3, Interesting)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202798)

Going to the Newegg store, where it's a warehouse with a couple of cashiers in the front. The employees aren't there to help you they are there to get stuff to shipping. I'd wander around there for hours.

Re:But imagine (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202872)

That sounds a lot like where I work [myatomic.com] : local people can walk in and place orders, but most of our sales are done online.

Re:But imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203046)

I live by the TigerDirect.com warehouse. its wonderful b/c they do have a storefront on it.

Re:But imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203466)

Which one? The one in Chicago? The thing they renamed to CompUSA? That dinky thing? You think that's a warehouse? Hahahahaha. You need to take a trip out to Fry's.

Re:But imagine (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203112)

I've been to an online retailer's "store"/warehouse. There was a computer at the front desk, so you could place an order, and have it within a few minutes. That was all.

Re:But imagine (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203156)

Sounds like Frys TODAY

Re:But imagine (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203856)

My favorite electronics components store [jameco.com] has something like that. Or did a few years back, when I was in the Bay area on other business and stopped by one afternoon.

Their "storefront" was the front of their warehouse, a waiting-room looking area with a couple of registers and some assorted other folks behind a counter. The seating area, and the counter top, had current and recent copies of their paper catalog and big stacks of order forms.

Pick up an order form, page through the catalog, fill in your order, hand it to one of the nice folks behind the counter who goes back to the warehouse to pull your order.

A few minutes later, the nice person comes back with a basket full of your order. You have it rung up at the counter, pay, and leave with the goodies (in a plastic shopping bag, if I recall).

This is a place that almost certainly must have done most of its retail business electronically via web or email, even that long ago. So a brick-and-mortar retail nexus is entirely possible, as long as you're not a just-in-time no-inventory middleman kind of retailer.

Re:But imagine (2, Informative)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203882)

Actually it would be more like Directron [directron.com] Their multi-acre warehouse in Houston, Texas has a small store in the front full of PC cases of every conceivable design and off-lease equipment. They also have several kiosks where you can sit down to browse their web site and order what you want. Once you order you walk over to the Will call kiosk and type in your order number to tell them you are there to pick up the merchandise. A few minutes later someone will come out from the warehouse with your stuff and process your order. It was hilarious before they moved to the bigger warehouse because the store was only big enough to fit 3 people before you couldn't open the front door. I can see it now. People opening up "storefronts" in a Public Storage space for a couple of minutes a day to get around a law like this.

Re:But imagine (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205562)

A very similar system has been practiced by a supermarket chain in Russia as well (mostly selling electronics and other hardware) - kiosks to browse catalogs, order gives you a printout with a number, then you wait until it pops up on one of the screens around (there are plenty, with some "conveniently" tucked into the surrounding fast food shops), and finally head to the place where they will hand it out. It drives the price down by quite a bit, which is why the thing was very popular among those in the know.

Unfortunately, they operated on razor-thin profit margins, and didn't survive the recent economic crisis.

No more Beanie Babies from Norway (1)

ipquickly (1562169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202888)

This law will require major reworking of Weird Al's EBay song [youtube.com] .

Goodbye Beanie Babies from Norway...snif...

Re:No more Beanie Babies from Norway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203410)

Norway isn't in the EU, so those beanie babies might be safe.

Easy to fulfil (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203252)

1. Find a small village where rooms are cheap. No one will want to go there, but that doesn't matter; you don't actually plan to sell much there anyway.
2. Rent a small room, and pay one employee to be there and sell. The selling happens to be just that if someone goes to him to buy, he orders the product online to the shop address, and then the person ordering it can fetch it there. You will not sell much this way (maybe a few items per year), but then, it's only to comply to the law.
3. Tell the regulators about this brick-and-mortar shop.

Re:Easy to fulfil (2, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203536)

You just ran a significant percentage of the people this law is already aimed at straight out of business. Many people that sell online do it in their spare time often because they just enjoy it. Not a whole lot of money is made. Certainly not enough to pay rent even in the dinkiest hole in the wall and actually pay somebody to stand around in it all day.

Re:Easy to fulfil (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204550)

That's why one person sets up a business like that and offers, for a very small fee, to act as "agent" of any business that needs to satisfy the letter of the law. "Yes, my name is Steve, which of these 1000 companies whose logos are here on the wall are you here to visit?" Even a small fee, multiplied a thousand times, could pay for a reasonable lifestyle for the agent.

Re:Easy to fulfil (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205380)

I and several hundred other people would each like to sublet a square foot of your shop:) Hell, doing it this way the overheads would be negligible.

EU arrogance ? (2, Insightful)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203288)

I am living in the EU, and I think the EU should maybe start by having a real government before to be so quick on judging on other matters, it feels much like the EU is a group of country trying to chase their lost empire in the 19th century or so ...

The EU government seems to think that they are the most important in the world while neither China or the US care about them as Obama showed recently.

I thought lost jobs was a good thing? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31203314)

When a smaller number of people can supply an equal amount of goods and services, that frees up the superfluous people to do other jobs, for example supply back massages or clean windows. In net, society is better off, even if someone painfully loses their job in the short term.

This is different from another model of employment, which we may call the "Soviet" model, where something done by few people is a social ill because it deprives the remaining people of jobs.

Seriously, sometimes it seems like our European politicians are just rediscovering everything invented during the Cold War.

So.. (1)

TechnicalFool (719087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203376)

The big guys would buy some relatively cheap shack, bung a couple of PCs in there for EPOS and use it as a warehouse-cum-shop, a bit like a single Argos store but smaller. Meanwhile your smaller setups who can't afford a "brick and mortar" presence are screwed. Nice one, EU!

Webspace providers, discussion boards (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203400)

This'll be great for webspace providers and discussion boards like Slashdot. I'd love to go to a brick and mortar store for these things. They could have them hanging like gift cards. "Yes, two websites please, a first post, three replies, and two +1 Funny moderations please. How much?"... "Yeah, paper is fine."

Re:Webspace providers, discussion boards (1)

TechnicalFool (719087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204176)

Sir, you owe me a new keyboard. I wish I had mod points to spare!

Re:Webspace providers, discussion boards (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204904)

But stay away from the "Goatse Brother's" shop on the corner. That place is a hole in the wall.

Unfortunately this has been going on a while now.. (5, Informative)

beset (745752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203974)

I work in eCommerce, in particular the high end AV and home electricals' market. "Premium" brands have been penalising eCommerce only ventures for a number of years now. It can be as simple as giving traditional retailers better retro (% of turn over paid back once a year) and has harsh as limited stock. The same goes on in online photography. To be clear, we're not an online only brand, we have a number of high street stores with decent turnover. Now, the manufacturers are getting even tougher. The amount of premium brands we've had to take off our website in the past 6 months to keep our decent terms for the traditional is shocking. These weren't small accounts either, they run into 7 figures of the UKs finest GBP. Why? The brands think by selling online you're selling on price (which is largely true thanks to sites like pricegrabber, pricerunner, kelkoo etc) and this devalues their brand. How they control the market is nothing short of cartel like, but it's not going to change, only get worse if this law comes into effect. FWIW, even as someone who is struggling to do online business thanks to these they do have a point. Pure, price comparison based online shopping will eventually leave us with very few trained product experts or the ability to see products in the "flesh" before buying online. A balance needs to be found.

Re:Unfortunately this has been going on a while no (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205040)

Newsflash you are always selling on price, before they were using lack of information as a method of gaining profit. Profit is waste, and efficient systems that ensure equal information remove waste.

Re:Unfortunately this has been going on a while no (2, Interesting)

beset (745752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205552)

I guess you've never worked in retail, nor understand quite how retail works.

Do you not sell on price alone. If this were the case the world would be full of geeks running e-stores out of bedrooms which allow for the lowest overheads thus the smallest margin.

Customers (outside of /. (they do exist)) generally want advice, the unwashed masses aren't supergeeks like we are. Bricks and Mortar stores allow customers to compare ranges of products in the flesh and speak to a real person who has likely had years of training and experience.

We've got to a situation now where these stores are browsed at the weekends, the customer uses the shops expertise, nice warm displays etc then the first thing they do when they get to work on a monday is buy it online. This is obviously not a sustainable model for retail, which a large percentage of our economy is based on.

Further to counter you point, even the online PRICE COMPARISON engines have been moving away from purely PRICE listings. They all have an element of customer service reviews, and now most of them recommend a "smart choice" which is the cheapest of the retailers with x% positive feedback. As you might have guessed, the retailers operating on the smallest margins are often those who don't provide the service, so this recommended retailer isn't always the cheapest.

Brick and mortar shop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31204114)

Our organization doesn't need any bricks, but we would like to buy some 81mm mortars, along with HE and WP ammunition.
My uncle Osama will be arranging payment through the Royal Bank of Saudi Arabia.

    Abudullal Bin Laden
    Al Quaeda cell 233
    Frankfurt, Germany

Turnabout is fair play (4, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204406)

I like this requirement. I think they should also require that all brick-and-mortar stores have an online store that sells everything they have in the brick-and-mortar store, and always be up to date.

Re:Turnabout is fair play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31205424)

I guess you're screwed if your store is made of sheet metal and sheet rock. Nope. Not a brick in sight.

Backwards (1)

jimbob666 (1050308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204414)

The regression of the human race back to the caves continues. Why do the people in power have no idea about technology or progress? ONLINE IS NOW - EMBRACE IT

So, will we see FedEx/Kinko's/eBay stores? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204520)

Could eBay just work out a deal with FedEx (or whatever the major shipping carrier is in the EU) where they have a few in-store electronic "catalogs" (web browsers set to eBay's website)? Then you could come in, browse, choose an item you want, find out "Sorry, it's not in stock. We can order from our distributor.", then come back a few days and buy the item, or even have it delivered directly to your home. Maybe they could keep a few stupid things in stock, like shipping boxes and bricks.

Re:So, will we see FedEx/Kinko's/eBay stores? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31205232)

FedEx is no longer FedEx/Kinky.

This is stupid (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204662)

Why? what the fuck? this probably is to make these brick & mortar shops be able to compete with the online ones. so is a anti-competitive measure, but since we sell online to the world, will harm our industry.
Why again?

Business Opportunity (1)

schwep (173358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204778)

1. Buy a small brick & mortar location (it can be out of the way - that's not the point).
2. 'Host' a virtual business store front in a portion of your location for a monthly fee.
3. To keep the overhead low, only be open for 1 hour a day & require that there be no products available for sale.
4. Only accept cash.
5. The money from sales made (which there shouldn't be) go to the brick & mortar business owner.

It's just like web hosting, except your' renting virtual brick & mortar space.

This will have little impact. (1)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204798)

all an online retailer has to do is open up a small sale office at their warehouse where people can order and pay for products by ID/SKU. Voila! Instant Brick and Mortar store. Hell, setting up a lemonade stand in the warehouse parking lot would qualify as a brick and mortar store as long as you charge VAT.

Re:This will have little impact. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205190)

Yup. Additionally, they could have a take-a-number system and only see one customer per day, and they could charge a 300% surcharge for in-person pickups. It isn't like any of their customers are going to be bothered by this - their entire real market is online.

The only real impact would be on companies that are 100% based out-of-country. However, those companies can still keep selling to the locals, and it will be up to the local government to try to intercept all the packages in the mail lest heaven forbid one of their citizens actually receive an item they have paid for. If the company has no local presence at all then there is nothing the government can do to touch it anyway.

Please see the bigger picture of WHY !!!!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31205118)

The reasons this is being pushed by the EU is this.

At the moment a TV (for example) goes from a maker in Korea to a importer in Germany, then on to a distributor, and then a retailer (either online or "bricks and mortar" ). That called a supply chain.

NOW, image a world where you order direct from the Korean factory. This is clearly a natural progression of E-commerce and technology. It is already happening with Photovoltaic cells and solar thermal panels for example. I order 25,000 USD of solar thermal last month, I saved myself about 32,000 USD by doing this !!

Well, now all the money and employment that the EU got has completely dried up because now the of busienss in the EU are able to get a cut of the supply chain.
VAT that is added on each pass and the makeup that happens as everything goes through the supply chain is now gone.
All this add on that happens as it goes through the supply chain is a huge amount of money and ultimately is what keeps the whole EU economy going in many ways.

SO this measure is an ecconomists attempt at trade protection , in order to

I think its great. I saved a fortune by getting the solar thermal panels put into a container myself

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