A dozen national trade organisations have joined hands to put pressure on the government to announce a ‘robust’ e-commerce policy. At an event organised in Delhi last week, representatives of companies like Reliance, ITC, Hindustan Lever, Coca-Cola, Amway, Udaan, Urban Ladder and Big Basket, also agreed with apex trade organisations like the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) that instead of competition, e-commerce business should be complementary to each other, with strict rules in the e-commerce policy to prevent violation of the rules and laws.
The meeting saw the release of a 14-point charter to be put before the government before it finalises the new e-commerce policy. A task force to push this agenda has also been formed. CAIT is also planning to take the e-commerce plunge through its Bharat e-market portal soon.
Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the CAIT and the convenor of the task force, said that the main demand of the trade bodies is that sellers registered on the e-commerce marketplace, irrespective of whether the marketplace is foreign or Indian should not be the related companies of the marketplace. “The marketplace platform entity shall not, directly or indirectly, control inventory of the seller. It should not act as a whole-seller to their registered sellers. Marketplace e-commerce companies should not own brands or create their private label brands. They should not be allowed to exploit the provisions of FDI policy in Press Note 2 by registering their affiliate companies on their platform and allowing them to sell 25% of the goods,” Khandelwal says.
The 14-point charter also says that no marketplace entity shall act as inventory-based e-commerce entity and no inventory-based e-commerce entity shall register any third-party seller. “Every marketplace platform must act in a completely neutral manner towards the sellers, consumers and other service providers. E-commerce entity shall provide non-discriminatory services to all consumers. The banks should not be allowed to selectively provide offers/cashback on the marketplace platforms. Marketplace e-commerce companies must carry out strong KYC and due-diligence of sellers before on-boarding them so that they do not end up selling illegal products,” the charter says.
Khandelwal wanted each e-commerce platform to nominate and publish the complete details about their grievance officer, nodal officer and compliance officer. “Each platform must include the sellers details including their address and contact number of their platform. In line with other regulatory bodies like Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI), an independent e-commerce regulatory body should be set to protect the interests of small traders, startups, MSMEs. Data security should also be included in the policy,” he said.
According to Khandelwal, despite being invited to the meeting, leading e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart chose not to participate.
The other organisations that are part of the taskforce are National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA), All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA), Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA), All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPDF), All India Jewelers & Goldsmith Federation (AIJGF) and Computer Media Dealer Association (CMDA).