A collection of e-commerce giants have announced a new product safety pledge, designed to ensure Australians are protected from purchasing unsafe goods online.
As part of the new product safety pledge, e-commerce giants Amazon Australia, eBay Australia, Catch and AliExpress have signed the voluntary agreement that the ACCC says signifies “their commitment to consumers’ safety through a range of commitments such as removing unsafe product listings within two days of being notified by the ACCC.”
The ACCC says that the new product safety pledge signed by the e-commerce giants consists of 12 product safety commitments, as well as three measurable performance indicators. They are required by the ACCC to report on the safety performance of their products at the end of each financial year, which will be used by the ACCC to compile an annual report.
The ACCC’s Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard has said that “this new initiative is an important step forward in ensuring businesses provide consumers with a safe and trusted online shopping experience.”
“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.”
The ACCC says that this was a considerable problem before the pandemic, which has only been exacerbated by the number of Australians that have gravitated toward online shopping throughout the year of 2020.
The ACCC points to a 2015 product safety sweep that found “high levels of non-compliance online,” from vendors selling unsafe products. This included a search for 693 banned or recalled products, two-thirds of which were found online for sale. The ACCC says that “of the 136 products purchased and physically inspected, over half did not comply with relevant product safety regulations.”
The new voluntary Australian Product Safety Pledge has been modelled on a similar pledge from the European Union that was designed to identify and remove unsafe products from e-commerce listings, with the help of e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay who own a significant share of the market.
“Improving product safety online is critical to building consumer confidence and trust,” she said, adding that “E-commerce giants like the four pledge signatories can help keep Australian consumers safe by preventing the sale of unsafe goods across their businesses.”
“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 and to improve product safety,” she concluded.
The twelve points outlined by the pledge include commitments from e-commerce giants to:
- Regularly consult the Product Safety Australia website and other relevant sources for information on recalled/unsafe products. Take appropriate action on these products once they are identified.
- Provide a dedicated contact point for Australian regulatory authorities to notify and request take-downs of recalled/unsafe products.
- Remove identified unsafe product listings without two business days of the dedicated contact point receiving a take-down request from Australian regulatory authorities. Inform authorities of the action that has been taken and any relevant outcomes.
- Cooperate with Australian regulatory authorities in identifying, as far as possible, the supply chain of unsafe products by responding to data/information requests within ten business days should relevant information not be publicly available.
- Have an internal mechanism for processing data/information requests and take-downs of unsafe products
- Provide a clear pathway for consumers to notify the pledge signatory directly of unsafe product listings. Such notifications are treated according to the signatory’s processes and where responses to consumers are appropriate, they are given within five business days.
- Implement measures to facilitate sellers’ compliance with Australian product safety laws. Share information with sellers on compliance training guidance, including a link to the ACCC’s selling online page on the Product Sfey Australian website.
- Cooperate with Australian regulatory authorities and sellers to inform consumers about relevant recalls or corrective actions on unsafe products.
- Set up processes aimed at preventing or restricting the sale of banned, non-compliant and recalled products as appropriate.
- Put in place reasonable measures to act against repeated offenders selling unsafe products, including in cooperation with Australian regulatory authorities.
- Take measures aimed at preventing the reappearance of unsafe product listenings already removed
- Explore the potential use of new technologies and innovation to improve the detection and removal of unsafe products.
The ACCC has asked any businesses that are interested in joining the new product safety pledge to visit Product Safety Australia’s website and invite other business leaders to commit to improving the quality and safety of their products.
It’s worth noting that a management system like ISO 9001 – Quality Management – combined with a Safety management system like ISO 45001 can be one of the most effective ways of ensuring your products meet regulatory requirements and customer safety expectations.