Several French ministers have issued a joint statement announcing that they have asked the main search engines and mobile app stores operating in France to completely hide the Wish website and mobile app. Wish is a popular e-commerce platform that mostly refers to products from China-based merchants. It does not have inventory, as products are shipped directly from retailers to customers.
Last year, the French administration responsible for consumer rights and fraud began investigating Wish. At the time Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and the Fight against Fraud (DGCCRF) suspected that it was a little too easy to mislead consumers and sell counterfeit goods on Wish, such as sneakers and perfumes with images that incorrectly display logos from well-known brands.
The French administration then ordered 140 different items on Wish – most of them were imported products. This time, they would find out if these products were safe or not.
95% of the toys they bought on the platform did not comply with European law – 45% of them were considered dangerous. When it comes to electronics, 95% of them should not be available in Europe either, and 90% of them were dangerous in one way or another.
And even cheap costume jewelry sold on the platform posed a risk – 62% of those they ordered are considered dangerous. Again, these measurements are based on a very small sample of 140 products.
When Wish is notified that it is selling a dangerous product, these products are removed from the marketplace within 24 hours as expected. And yet, “in most cases, these products remain available under a different name, and sometimes even from the same seller. The company does not keep any log related to transactions with incompatible and dangerous products,” the French Ministry of Economy said in a statement.
According to the same survey, when Wish notifies customers that they have purchased a dangerous product, it does not mention the reason for the product recall.
In July 2021, the French administration responsible for consumer rights and fraud informed Wish and asked them to comply with European legislation on e-commerce and product safety. The administration gave them two months’ notice before taking action.
Four months later, the French government is taking advantage of the latest changes in European regulation to reject or block problematic websites and apps. It is a complicated process, but the Ministry of Economy asked the responsible French administration to ask search engines and app stores to disregard Wish. It’s going to take some time – at the time of writing, Wish is still available in the App Store, and you can still find Wish’s website in Google’s search results.
Then Wish will be shadowed in France. The website will still be available and the app will still work if you already have it on your phone. But you will not see it in the search results in the App Store, Play Store or Google.
If the French administration believes that Wish has implemented proper changes to comply with French law, it could lift the shadow ban. With this radical decision, France is setting a precedent and showing once again that the web is becoming more and more fragmented. In that case, it says that it is in the best interests of consumers.
It will also be interesting to see whether Europe’s forthcoming law on digital services will have a greater impact on drop shipping as a whole. Europe is expected to revise the e-commerce directive from 2000 with the Digital Services Act.