The Competition Commission of India (‘the Commission’) released a Report titled ‘Market Study on E-commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations’ on Thursday.
Market Study on E-commerce in India (‘the study’) was initiated by the Commission with a view to better understand the functioning of e-commerce in India and its implications for markets and competition
The study, a combination of secondary research, questionnaire survey, focused group discussions, one-on-one meetings, a multi-stakeholder workshop and written submissions of stakeholders, covered the three broad categories of e-commerce in consumer goods (mobiles, lifestyle, electrical & electronic appliances and grocery), accommodation services and food services. 16 online platforms, 164 business entities [including sellers (manufacturers and retailers) and service providers (hotels and restaurants)] and 7 payment system providers from across India participated in the study.
In addition, 11 industry associations, representing different stakeholder groups, also participated. The study has helped gather useful insights and information on the key features of e-commerce in India, the different business models of e-commerce players, and the various aspects of commercial arrangements between market participants involved in e-commerce.
The study has also provided an opportunity to learn from business enterprises on how they are responding to the advent of digital trade and has helped gauge the key parameters of competition in digital commerce. The study confirms that online commerce is gaining importance across the sectors studied. The share of online distribution and its relative importance vis-à-vis traditional channels varies significantly across products.
Online commerce, as the study shows, has increased price transparency and price competition. The search and compare functionalities of online platforms have lowered search cost for consumers and have provided them with a wide array of alternatives to choose from. For businesses, e-commerce has helped expand market participation by aiding innovative business models.
The report presents the key trends identified and also discusses the issues that may, directly or indirectly, have a bearing on competition, or may hinder realisation of the full procompetitive potential of e-commerce. These include the issues of lack of platform neutrality, unfair platform-to-business contract terms, exclusive contracts between online marketplace platforms and sellers/service providers, platform price parity restrictions and deep discounts.