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Ecommerce Cos Forming ‘Lobby’ Group, CAIT Calls It ‘Futile’ Exercise

Ecommerce Cos Forming ‘Lobby’ Group, CAIT Calls It ‘Futile’ Exercise

The group is said to represent a focussed voice on the ecommerce sector

We oppose the idea of ‘lobby’ groups, says CAIT

Snapdeal and ShopClues are said to be in the group

Around 10-11 online marketplaces are reportedly forming an ecommerce lobby group, called The E-Commerce Council of India, that will advocate, exchange best practices, and as a platform for general engagements.

A Livemint report, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the development, has particularly named Delhi-based Snapdeal and Gurugram-based ShopClues in the group.

While ShopClues did not comment, a response from Snapdeal could not be elicited till the time of publishing of this report.

The group is said to represent a “focussed voice” on the ecommerce sector, with an official announcement scheduled to be made later this month (March 2019), the report said.

The initiative, even before its launch, has, however, been termed as ‘futile exercise’ by traders’ organisation, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Speaking to Inc42, CAIT general secretary, Praveen Khandelwal, said, “We don’t agree with the concept of ‘lobby group’. We oppose any kind of such lobby group because it is a futile exercise to pressurise the government to bring the policy to their advantage.”

When asked how it differentiates its organisation with that of lobby groups, Khandelwal said, “CAIT is not a lobby group. We are an organisation which is actively working around the year for the development of trade both within the country and outside the country.”

In previous years, CAIT has been actively vocal on issues surrounding FDI policy in ecommerce. It was also among the first to oppose the Walmart-Flipkart deal, along with predatory pricing and deep discount being offered by the ecommerce platforms.

Khandelwal is of the opinion that everything should be decided on merit basis. “As far as ecommerce is concerned, we are very clear that the ecommerce policy should have an even-level playing field with fair competition,” he added.

Lobby or not, there are many many groups where startups are active members. For instance, IndiaTech is one such group which was launched in 2017 and has 14 companies and investors as members — such as Ola, MakeMyTrip, SoftBank, Kalaari Capital, to name a few. The group has been actively working in areas such as confidential initial public offering (IPO) for startups, dual-class share structure along with differential voting rights for founder-promoters of startups, among others.

Even some Indian media in September last year came together to form the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), which said to work collaboratively on defining, creating and fostering the digital news ecosystem in the country.

Will the so-called ecommerce council become just a simple group with their own interest and agenda or will it become the group that will represent holistic growth of the sector is something to watch for.