At least 15 trader and retail organisations are planning to launch a countrywide agitation if e-commerce companies continue with mega sales and keep offering deep discounts in the upcoming festive season.
Alarmed by advertisements and ongoing sales organised by major e-commerce players, trader bodies have decided to approach Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to stop the online firms from resorting to predatory pricing.
According to traders, they will meet the ministers over the next few days and chart out instances of violations of various rules by the e-commerce firms.
Trader associations, including Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB), hawker unions, farmer bodies, and retailers are planning to approach the government to take immediate steps to thwart this year’s online sales.
“CAIT has taken a serious note of the declarations by several e-commerce companies to hold festival sales, thereby offering deep discounts, which will be against the foreign direct investment policy,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.
The CAIT has said it has informed the government several times about these e-commerce companies allegedly involved in malpractices such as predatory pricing, deep discounting, and loss funding, creating an uneven level playing field in the market.
CAIT is planning to hold a joint conference of leaders of trade associations, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, and other sectors, to discuss the issue.
Last week, CAIT got into a spat with a representative from Amazon India at an open panel discussion organised by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The Amazon representative had tried to point out that offline retailers were also offering similar discounts as online players.
The government is keen to ensure that offline retailers get a fair chance against online companies, sources said. Under the upcoming e-commerce policy, platforms might have to give a proof with every discounted product that the slash in prices is funded by the seller or brand and not the e-commerce portal itself.
The new policy might not only have a new set of rules limiting the maximum discount given on a product but also ensure it is the seller giving the discount.
The government might also heavily regulate cashbacks given on the various platforms, especially by mobile wallets.
Online marketplaces, however, maintained that they were following all guidelines around discounting and it was the seller offering the discounts.