Flipkart and Amazon are changing discount rules, here’s how
Earlier, sellers would drop prices at will by funding the discount to remain competitive, the executives said.
The entire process involving maintenance of market operating price, discounts and credit notes has been automated so that any audit will show the marketplaces are obeying the revised foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in ecommerce that came into effect earlier this year, the executives said.
India allows 100% FDI in ecommerce marketplaces but they can only function as platforms that connect buyers and sellers and cannot influence prices. Brickand-mortar retailers have alleged for years that the deep-pocketed marketplaces have been indirectly influencing prices by funding deep discounts of products on their platforms.
Last month, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal told top executives of local and foreign ecommerce companies that marketplaces must follow rules in both letter and spirit and avoid price distortion on their platforms.
Amazon and Flipkart officials have also informed sellers that there will be no preferential treatment for any vendor, all will be levied uniform seller commission and logistics rates. There have been reports that some of the large sellers used to receive preferential rates and would pass the savings on as discounts, the executives said.
The new system has been implemented in consumer electronics and smartphones, which account for 60-65% of total ecommerce sales, the executives said. It could soon be rolled out to other categories, they said.
An Amazon India spokesperson said Amazon.in is a marketplace and sellers decide customer-facing prices. “As a company we have a high bar on compliance,” the person said. Flipkart did not respond to queries.
Brands will only pass on discounts for slow-moving products and old, unsold stock, said Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO at Super Plastronics, maker of online-focused Thomson and Kodak televisions “The sellers will not fund any discount and have informed us that they will not drop their margins. Nothing will be sold below the net landing cost at the seller’s end,” he said.
An executive said the concept of market operating price and price guarantee is prevalent in the offline trade including large retail chains, which the online marketplaces want to replicate.