Selling electrical goods online: don't be dodgy
Electrical compliance in the age of online shopping
Australians are purchasing more and more tech online. It’s fast, it’s convenient, but is it safe?
Online platforms have been inundated with cheap electrical goods that post major safety and compliance risks.
The faceless supplier
The purchasing of unsafe and non-compliant items and products stems from what we term the ‘faceless supplier’.
These suppliers — unlike the many reputable suppliers — aim to cut initial costs without considering whether their products are safe or legal for use. But there are requirements, and there are penalties.
The faceless supplier has no regard or understanding of the requirements for Australia and New Zealand. They could be a manufacturer, a sales agent or distributor in another country, or even an importer within Australia.
Why do people purchase from them?
Price. The temptation to purchase from these businesses is primarily cost for the consumer. In some cases, the price reflects the quality — it’s not just a matter of safety, but performance as well. Skirting compliance in order to cut costs allows suppliers to deliver goods at a lower price.
Most reputable retailers and even online platforms such as Amazon require products on their websites to be tested and compliant for the country/region that they are sold in.
What are the consequences?
If you intend to purchase or supply these untested or non-compliant products, be aware that you run the risk of financial penalties or backlash if your product causes injury to a consumer.
Australia and New Zealand have a robust regulatory system for electrical and telecommunication products and devices. The regulatory system is based on past knowledge and learning, and ensuring minimal safety standards are met.
What is the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)?
This mark on an electrical product indicates that the product meets the appropriate standard/s allowing for sale onto the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Although we do see the fraudulent use of this mark on some occasions, which is concerning, it is a way to identify compliant products and devices.
Some people believe that UL, CE and other marks means the product is automatically safe. This does not mean it has been tested and proven compliant on the Australian market.
Do all products require the same testing?
The risk level is not equal for all products. Comtest Labs will typically assess the risk level of the product, then determine the compliance and registration requirements. High-risk products have additional requirements, but they will guide you through the process to market in minimal time. They work with a range of companies exporting electrical devices, from the large manufacturers to small suppliers.
Manufacturers, importers, suppliers and retailers should check which requirements are applicable to their products and have products tested in-country. Having local knowledge of Australian requirements streamlines the time to market.
As the Australian partner of TÜV SÜD, Comtest Labs handles compliance obligations here in Australia and around the world. They offer electrical compliance testing, compliance folder management and assistance with product recall/development.
Whether you sell smartwatches or televisions, keeping your products compliant is the best way to avoid tarnishing your reputation or penalties.
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