The competition commission of India (CCI) is reportedly undertaking an independent exercise to fully comprehend the issues in the e-commerce business in India. The CCI is not doing this in response to any complaint or as part of an enquiry. It is possible it wants to provide its own inputs to the government which is in the process of finalizing its e-commerce policy. Incidentally, CCI had its representatives resent in the various meetings held recently at the Commerce ministry regarding this, according to an Economic Times report.
This market study taken up by CCI may focus on specific segments within the ecommerce ecosystem; these could include electronics and services such as travel and food delivery. Undoubtedly, these areas have witnessed phenomenal growth through online platforms. CCI may want to know the factors that influence online businesses in these sectors, the way the companies operate their business, both front-end and back-end and the issues faced by them.
CCI’s team is expected to hold direct talks with the stakeholders, the ecommerce players like Flipkart and Amazon as well as manufacturers, wholesalers/retailers, hotels, restaurants, payment platforms and industry associations to collect a comprehensive picture for its study.
From the perspective of the way competition plays out in the Indian ecommerce space, the CCI study will look deeper into the contracts that these companies enter into with the sellers on their platforms and other relevant factors. These will then be studied in the context of if and how competition is impacting the ecommerce business.
The Commission has been approached earlier by the retail trade bodies with complaints of predatory pricing policies being adopted by some of the big firms like Amazon and Flipkart. CCI had taken a stand then that it does not find any singular entity enjoying a dominant position in the online market place.
Whether CCI had sufficient inputs in its possession at that time to come to that conclusion or not is not clear. However, after this first-hand study that it is undertaking, it can be assumed that the information at its disposal would be much more useful and recent in nature.