An ecommerce policy draft prepared by The commerce ministry looks to put increased attention to protect consumer rights and curb the bad behaviors by ecommerce players in a fast-growing sector with widespread customer complaints about subpar services. A TBS report on the development said that the draft will go into consultation with the ministries, agencies, and representatives from the e-commerce sector to finalize this week before going to the cabinet for approval.
The new draft seeks to address a number of issues facing the ecommerce industry, particularly around consumer experience and rights. For example, ecommerce companies will have to send products to customers within 7-10 days after completing orders, depending on locations. Maximum seven days for the same district delivery and maximum time 10 days for orders from a different district. Companies will face fines and have to refund customers if they fail to deliver on time.
For supplying inauthentic or low-quality products or products that do not match the specifications on the web, customers can complain against companies for fraud. Companies can even be indicted for fraud cases for supplying low-quality products than what they promised. Product details on the website must be accurate and in detail so that buyers can be sure about the quality. Delivering low-quality products by showing a different quality product will be considered fraud. Companies can’t accept orders for out of stock products, etc.
The policy is designed for web-based ecommerce companies and does not include small e-commerce and f-commerce companies. The commerce ministry will later issue a separate policy for smaller digital commerce players running businesses on different social media platforms.
The draft policy looks to protect consumer rights with an understanding that if consumers are happy with the service they receive from online players, the industry will eventually grow. While the ecommerce industry has grown significantly over the years, service quality remains subpar and consumer complaints remain widespread. Relevant policy intervention addressing these challenges could be beneficial for the long term growth of the sector.
Similarly, while protecting consumer rights is critical for achieving the trust of consumers, there are a number of challenges that ecommerce companies face, such as payment among other challenges, that also need attention. Unless companies have enough room to maneuver and operate efficiently, protecting consumer rights alone will not do the job either. To that end, a healthy ecommerce policy should look to balance both these aspects.