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Guidelines on e-commerce markets may save small and medium sellers from being...
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Shambhavi Anand, ET Bureau Mar 30, 2016, 11.33PM IST

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-03-30/news/71926875_1_seller-base-snapdeal-return-policies

NEW DELHI: Small and medium sellers on e-commerce platforms said the latest guidelines on online retailing will give marketplaces fewer opportunities to arm twist them on matters such as pricing and return policies.
But, the All India Online Vendors Association, which has 500 large and medium sellers as members, said there is still a need for a regulatory body to ensure that the ecommerce companies follow the guidelines.


[Image: pixel.gif]Marketplaces have often been accused of putting pressure on sellers for giving discounts or lowering the prices in order to increase sales on their platforms. For instance, an email sent by Snapdeal to its sellers during End of Season Sales in January had asked for an extra margin in certain categories which could be passed on as discounts to customers. In case the sellers did not want to give that extra margin, they were told to reduce their inventory to as much as zero, the email, a copy of which was seen by ET, said.
"We work closely with our sellers to help them derive maximum benefit from the marketplace," a Snapdeal spokesperson said, in response to a request seeking comment on the email. "Snapdeal organises shopping events from time to time for our buyers and sellers. It is like a Diwali shopping festival at a mall where the shops may decide to participate to take advantage of the footfalls. While we create a range of shopping events to encourage visits to the marketplace, the decision of the sale price of the goods is the prerogativeof the respective sellers."
Some sellers, who didn't wish to be identified, said since the guarantee will now be provided by sellers, marketplaces should formulate return policies in consultation with them and not on their own.
"As a seller I will give warranty or guarantee depending on what a brand offers. Hence, there cannot be blanket duration for return policies," said a seller who offers smartphones and related accessories onFlipkart, Amamzon and Snapdeal.
Sellers have often complained about the return policies of marketplaces which are attractive for consumers but not so for sellers. Each e-tailer has its own window for different category of products. Snapdeal insists all returns have to be within seven days from the date of delivery while Amazon offers up to four weeks for returning mobile phones.
A clause in the new policy that restricts the maximum value of products that an ecommerce firm can offer on its platform from one source to 25% of total sales. This is expected to prompt ecommerce platforms to broadbase their seller base in real sense. Until now, most of the sales on some platforms were from their own associate firms. "The firms will now have to groom more large sellers on their platform in order to strike that balance," added the seller cited above.

Quote:While the latest guidelines have brought clarity to the regulations, some sellers insist on the need for a regulatory body. "There can be several more ways to arm twist seller. Hence there is an urgent need for bringing a regulatory body like RBI, SEBIIRDA, etc. in marketplace-based ecommerce also," the All India Online Vendors Association said.
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