Buying & selling safe products online: 2018 international campaign

Published: 
11 Nov 2018

The ACCC is urging consumers and businesses to check that products bought and sold online are safe, as part of an international campaign on product safety risks in e-commerce.

During International Consumer Product Safety Week (12 to 16 November 2018), the ACCC is participating in the OECD Global Awareness Campaign of the Safety of Products Sold Online.

The 2018 campaign aims to educate and inform consumers, online sellers and online platforms about:

  • product safety risks and challenges in the online space
  • how to reduce and address the risks, and
  • key product safety compliance requirements associated with trading online.

Safe products online

Online shoppers are particularly exposed to injury or illness risks because consumers cannot physically examine products as they would when shopping in store. Consumers also have to rely on information that is available online, and may not know who to contact to return a product that turns out to be unsafe.

Australian consumers should be able to have the same confidence that they’re buying safe products when shopping online as they do when shopping in-store.

While most businesses ensure that their products comply with Australian safety laws, businesses that supply unsafe or defective products online can cause harm to consumers and the broader community – including physical injury, illness or even death.

The online marketplace

Worldwide snapshot of online products that fail safety standardsClick to enlarge

In 2017, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online and global online sales amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars.

In 2016, more than half of individuals in OECD countries bought products online – up from 36% in 2010.

While the option of buying online offers a number of benefits for both consumers and suppliers, its growth has also presented consumer product safety risks and challenges worldwide.

Safety tips

Tips for consumers

Before purchase:

  • Know who you’re buying from. Check online ratings and reviews, which may indicate any safety issues other consumers have experienced.
  • Check www.productsafety.gov.au for Australian product recalls and visit the OECD GlobalRecalls portal for international recalls.
  • Check if the product needs to meet Australian mandatory safety standards or is banned in Australia.
  • Read safety warnings and be sure to follow instructions.

After purchase:

  • Speak up if you find a safety issue. You can report unsafe products to the ACCC and your local consumer protection agency: productsafety.gov.au/reportanunsafeproduct
  • If possible, consider registering your product with the manufacturer so that you can be immediately contacted about recalls and other safety information.

Buying safe products online video

Tips for online sellers

  • Make sure you are selling safe products. Comply with product safety laws in any jurisdiction where you offer products.
  • Share product safety information and concerns with consumers effectively and be responsive to both consumers and authorities.
  • See our guidance for online sellers at: Selling online.

Tips for online selling platforms

  • Identify and remove unsafe products on your platform and make sure seller’s contact details are visible. 
  • Promote product safety compliance on your platform and work cooperatively with authorities.
  • See our guidance for platforms at: Guidance for online selling platforms.

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More information

List of mandatory standards
List of banned products
Recalled products in Australia