I think on the policy front the marketplaces should not be influencing the pricing in any manner. On the face of it from the kind of communication [from these marketplaces], it seems they do. Consumers get many offers. A first-time buyer gets an extra offer. It is here that one is forced to think that the marketplace is influencing the price.
It is curious that all the sellers on a few marketplaces agree to generic offers simultaneously. If you ask an offline seller, he will tell you that when he wants to offer discounts, not all the brands will be willing to participate. When this happens on online marketplaces, it then becomes quite clear that sellers are linked to the marketplaces themselves as primary sellers.
In most cases, many of these sellers have the lowest selling prices on the website. Some of these operators do not have seller names or there is only one seller’s name on the products, which is clearly a violation. I do not know how far it is true to say that marketplaces do not influence pricing.
The message being communicated to the seller is that discount is coming from the marketplace. I am not aware of any marketplace stating that they are not responsible for guarantees offered by the seller.
All that we, as offline players, are asking for is the policy of the government should provide a level-playing field for all – offline and online retail players.
We are here to believe that the policy will be implemented and that is the responsibility of the government. It is only logical that the rule of law is applied to everyone. If there is a possibility of a violation, it is the job of a government agency to investigate. We are not here to investigate.
We believe that online retail should exist in India and it should be treated as retail. There should be just one retail policy and no segregation such as single brand, multi brand and e-commerce which make retail very complicated. The policy is causing problems rather than people in the trade.
The author is director, Future Group
As told to Sulekha Nair
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Updated Date: Aug 11, 2016 22:30:55 IST