Unlike these draft guidelines, the draft e-commerce policy issued in February this year extensively talked about data regulation, infrastructure development, transparency in e-commerce model with respect to counterfeit goods, piracy, preventing the sale of prohibited items etc.
Over five months after the department for promotion of industry and internal (DPIIT) government issued the draft e-commerce policy for regulating flow and storage of user data along with ensuring compliance with laws governing online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal, the department of consumer affairs has now issued a separate ‘consumer protection guidelines’ for e-commerce to ‘prevent fraud, unfair trade practices, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers,’ according to the draft issued by the department for which stakeholders’ suggestions are sought by September 16, 2019.
“This will enable the sector to offer a high standard of consumer protection at every stage of an e-commerce transaction, in accordance with well-defined respective roles and responsibilities of sellers and platforms. We look forward to participating in the deliberations to help finalize an operating framework,” a Snapdeal spokesperson told Financial Express Online as the company evaluates the draft guidelines.
An Amazon India spokesperson also said that the company is currently studying the guidelines issued by the department of consumer affairs while Flipkart didn’t have any comments on it. Unlike these draft guidelines, the draft e-commerce policy issued in February this year extensively talked about data regulation, infrastructure development, transparency in e-commerce model with respect to counterfeit goods, piracy, preventing the sale of prohibited items, taxation, payment issues, export promotion via e-commerce etc.
“There were a lot many aspects to the draft policy as compared to this particular guidelines framework. So they (government) have cleared out the clutter. While these guidelines are already been tried and followed by the top players like Amazon and Flipkart but there are so many other marketplaces as well in e-commerce and many entering this space,” Arnav Gupta, an analyst focusing on finance and retail at Forrester told Financial Express Online.
Among the key highlights of the guidelines issued by the department includes the company to be registered in India and not an Indian unit of a foreign company, seller details should be furnished including address, website, email, contact details, business identity etc.; company should not directly or indirectly influence the prices of goods or services; company should not undertake any activity that influences consumer’s decision for product, company should provide payment information, security of those payment methods, how to use them etc., data storage and collection should comply with IT (Amendment) Act, 2008; refund to customers within 14 days of the refund request by customers, and more importantly company will be held guilty of contributory or secondary liability if it guarantees that goods are authentic.
“It is a framework for a new startup to checkmark all the boxes to ensure the business is compliant and consumer interest is focused on,” said Gupta.