New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which has been fighting e-commerce majors head on over deep discounts and sales, may now also take on the retail brands which offer huge discounts in the online segment, unlike in offline stores.
Speaking to IANS, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that as e-commerce players attributed the discounts during the ongoing sales to the brands, the traders’ body can initiate legal proceedings against the discriminatory pricing by brands which is against the competition law.
CAIT said that in response to court case filed by it in Rajasthan High Court against “unethical practices” of Amazon and Flipkart, the e-commerce players have claimed that they are not offering discounts but it is the brands that are giving such low prices in the ongoing sale.
The traders body said that it ss a “blatant lie on part of e-commerce players to cover up their unethical trade practices”. Brands cannot offer discounts only to online retailers as it would be discriminatory towards the offline traders and violate the competition law, it said.
“According to media reports, they (e-commerce platforms) are trying to pass the buck on brands over discounts. Now we are writing to the these companies asking if they are giving discounts only on the online platform. Such discriminatory pricing cannot be applied between online and offline platforms. If they are doing so, we will make them also a party in our case that has been filed against Flipkart and Amazon in Rajasthan. The case will be heard on October 15,” Khandelwal said.
The CAIT Secretary General further said that he would meet the Commerce Minister on Friday, apprise him of the scenario and seek action.
There are hundreds of items including electronics, mobile phones, FMCG products, kitchen accessories, home furnishing, gift articles, watches, footwear, readymade garments and others where deep discounts are offered by the online platforms, he said.
“It is a known phenomena that every time they arrange any festival sale or otherwise, they are giving deep discounts to the extent which our trader is not in a position to offer. So that’s they create an uneven playing field where our (offline) traders cannot compete.”
He further said that malls and offline retails stores are witnessing a massive drop in footfall and are set to lose nearly 30 per cent in sales in just a couple of days.
“Because of deep discounts and malpractices of the online players as there is no regulator on the e-commerce industry, the government too has not taken any action. These companies have made the Indian e-commerce market a free playground, playing the game with their own set of rules,” he stressed.
The CAIT last month wrote to the government seeking a “blanket ban” on festive season sales conducted by the e-commerce giants.About 80 per cent of these sales are likely to occur between September 29 and October 4 – the period in which Flipkart and Amazon are organising their ‘Big Billion Days’ and ‘Great Indian Festival’ sales, according to global market research firm Forrester.