New Delhi June 24 2021: The Central government has proposed changes to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.
The rules specifically prohibit an e-commerce entity from organising flash sales, defined as a sale conducted at significantly reduced prices, high discounts and with an intent to draw a large number of consumers.
Platforms must identify goods based on their country of origin, provide suggestions of alternatives among domestically manufactured goods and ensure the ranking doesn’t discriminate against domestic goods.
The proposed amendments have been detailed in this document on June 21. Stakeholders have been given time tillJuly 6 to provide their comments, following which the rules will be finalised.
For a summary of issues in this continuing regulatory effort, see this article by Samidha Sharma in TOI today.
Mainstream media has largely panned these proposals as over regulation and micro management. With one exception ( the last link, Deccan Chronicle), the following editorials in leading English language general and business print media are not happy with the proposed changes
Times of India: June 23 2021: A Policy Mess: Proposed changes in online commerce encourage micro managing, may result in a new set of problems
The Hindu June 24 2021: Policy creep: On e-commerce and overregulation risks
Overregulation risks retarding growth and job creation in the e-commerce sector
New Indian Express June 24 2021: More laws for e-tailers, but you can’t stop them.
The variety and choice available from the comfort of their homes and the competitive prices offered have made online marketplaces a big hit.
Financial Express June 24 2021: New rules belabour e-commerce: No comparable regulatory burden on brick&mortar; rules likely to further bind e-com players in red tape
Economic Times June 24 2021: To Serve Customer or hobble e-Commerce? Banning flash sales would only rob consumers of discounts offered as part of marketing schemes. The suggestion that couriers cannot offer different rates for similar products ignores the reality of bulk discounts. It is a throwback to the licence raj, when babus thought they knew business best, and traders and industrialists were unreliable hucksters.
Deccan Chronicle, June 24 2021. Levelling the retail playfied. New rules proposed by Central government to regulate some aspects of sales on e-commerce playfields bring in much needed fairplay between online retail… and traditional.. mom-and-pop stores