ecommerce trends

The Consumer Protection (eCommerce) Rule

The Consumer Protection Act: 

This act came to effect on August 9, 2019. However, the act only came into force on July 20, 2020. This act protects consumers, from unfair trade practices in eCommerce and to facilitate consumer welfare.

The rules impact: 

(a) all goods and services available on either digital or electronic networks, it also includes digital products

(b) all models of eCommerce, such as marketplace eCommerce and inventory eCommerce entity 

(c) all eCommerce multi-channels including single-brand retailers and single-brand retailers in single or multiple forms 

(d) all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of eCommerce.

(e) all eCommerce entities that are not in India but systematically offer goods and services to consumers in India

Duties

eCommerce entities: 

  • Corporate Entity: The rules set out that an eCommerce entity shall be a corporate entity under the Companies Act 2013 (regardless of the origin) or an office, branch or agency outside India owned or controlled by a person resident in India.
  • Nodal Officer: This requires an eCommerce entity to appoint a nodal person or an alternate senior is a resident in India, to ensure compliance with the Act or the Rules.
  • Disclosure of Information: An eCommerce entity requires one to provide the following information on its platform: 

(i) its legal name

(ii) the principal address of its headquarters and all branches

(iii) name and details of its website

(iv) contact details of customer care as well as of grievance officer

(v) details of the importer or seller of imported goods and services. 

This will hence ensure that the customer has all the information required for the eCommerce entity which will reduce the cases of fraud.

Changes in India's Consumer Protection Act 2019
  • Grievance Redressal: An eCommerce entity required to establish a grievance redressal mechanism and appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.
  • Unfair Trade Practice: An eCommerce company should not adopt any unfair trade practice. Manipulation of the prices of the goods or services on its platform such that it can gain an unreasonable profit, should additionally not be done.
  • Cancellation Charges and Consent: eCommerce entities must not impose cancellation charges on consumers. Additionally, the rules also bar eCommerce entities from automatically recording consent of a consumer for purchase including in the form of pre-ticked checkboxes.

Marketplace eCommerce Entities

The rules suggest that the marketplace eCommerce entities need to ensure that sellers on their platform provide the description pertaining to the goods or services on their platform is accurate and corresponds directly with the actual features of the goods or services. They additionally need to disclose and display information about the sellers offering goods and services on its platform including information about the return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, and grievance redressal mechanism, etc. Furthermore, inter alia, terms and condition need to be displayed too. 

Sellers on Marketplace eCommerce Entities

The rules also prohibit sellers from adopting any unfair trade practice, including posing as consumers to post product reviews, misrepresenting the quality or features of any goods or services. The sellers additionally, cannot refuse to take back goods or discontinue the services. The rules also impose that the sellers need to appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal, the advertisements for the goods and services they offer need to be accurate and disclose information the necessary information, the country of origin needs to on the pack, additionally, guarantees of authenticity or genuineness of imported goods, and other guarantees or warranties need to be applicable and valid

Inventory eCommerce Entities

The duties and obligations of the inventory eCommerce entities are similar to that of the sellers. They too need to disclose information, like the country of origin of the goods and services, etc. They further need to deliver the goods on time and have to guarantee the authenticity of the goods. 

E-commerce under Consumer Protection Act soon

The grey area of the Act: 

Price: 

Furthermore, eCommerce as said earlier cannot manipulate the price of the goods or services offered on its platform. However, there is no guidance on what is considered as ‘unreasonable profit’. For example, a luxury designer could sell a serum 3 times the price of a regular face mask, but would this be considered as an unreasonable profit? 

Contractual information: 

Any seller in the eCommerce marketplace must disclose all contractual information which must then be displayed on its platform. Similarly, every inventory eCommerce entity is also required to display contractual information required to be disclosed by law. However, it again becomes unclear about which contract information needs to be displayed? Is it the information between the seller and the marketplace eCommerce entity? 

Timeline for compliance: 

The eCommerce Rules have come to effect from July 23, 2020, and no grace period had been given for compliance especially to the offshore eCommerce companies that systematically offer goods or services to consumers in India. Generally, a grace period for compliance allowed in order for businesses to manage their affairs to become compliant. However, this is not the case under the eCommerce Rules. This thus can affect the functionality of the said entities

These rules aim to bring transparency and accountability in the provision of information disclosed to the consumers. It also reduces the possibilities of unfair trade practices by large sellers. With the increase in eCommerce activity especially in present times, these rules will address consumer grievances and prescribe practices that benefit consumers. Hence, for entities to comply with the rules, they will have to fundamentally overhaul their websites and will have to invest significantly in legal compliance. 

Firsts to watch out for this Festive Season

The festive season is right around the corner and it’s experiencing a 75% jump, against the nearly $4 billion gross sales last year. This jump will record a two year high, with the gross sales amount predicted to reach $7 billion. 

A report by Redseer found that last year online retail recorded was 3% with as much as 135 million online users purchasing online. But with the onslaught of the pandemic, social distancing, and financial crunches, consumers now prefer online shopping with its convenience and festive sales. To adapt to this surge of sales eCommerce companies have adopted new strategies to meet the demands. 

eCommerce Preparation: 

Flipkart has announced that it will be creating jobs for 70000 people which will include posts in its supply chain management.

The Walmart owned e-commerce giant has cited the upcoming festive season and the Big Billion Days sale for this mass recruitment drive. Additionally, Flipkart has partnered with Max Fashion, Max has a strong presence in the fashion vertical and with this tie-up, both the brands will experience higher reach and profitability. 

Amazon India, keeping up with its competitors has introduced 4 new languages, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, in order to woo the consumers and offer a more personalised shopping experience. Furthermore, with plans to make 10 new warehouses operational, this expansion will create thousands of jobs this festive season. The consumers can expect steep discounts & cashback across all classifications, and with Amazon’s, Alexa and voice-enabled shopping experiences consumers can shop easy.

Entering the market, the new competitor JioMart will pose a challenge to the other two giants, by combining both online and offline retail. However, being new to the eCommerce industry Jio will likely pose a limited threat

This festive season, consumers interestingly have shown interest, not in conventional electronics items but essentials, including groceries and work-from-home products such as laptops, single-item furniture, kitchenware and comfortable fashion. And according to reports 50Cr. Studies suggest Indians will buy 50,000 Lakh items this festive season. 

Demographics:

Covid-19 has caused a surge in first-time users of tier II & III cities. Reports done by Redseer and Unicommerce suggests that shoppers from these regions will be the top contributors to online sales during this year’s festive sales with more than 50% of purchases coming from Tier-II and beyond locations. While people from metro cities and tier-1 cities will be contributing to 35% and 25% of the sales respectively. 

Logistics & Supply-chain: 

The logistics and supply chain will determine the success of the festive season and the performance of the companies, hence Industry executives are working with sellers and brands to overcome supply-chain and investment issues and meet the surge in demand. A higher number of shipments are likely to occur with its peak being 7.5-8 million shipments a day during the festive season. Hence, efforts are taken to create a seamless supply chain with a glocal outlook.

The firsts this year: 

  • Massive Growth: COVID-19 has enabled massive growth in new consumers, that prefer to shop in a manner that is convenient, safe, and hygienic and the eCommerce space meets these requirements
  • Offline recovery: Physical shopping is still weak as consumers are still apprehensive about visiting touchpoint areas like malls and retail outlets.
  • Demand: Surge of demand will likely occur in eCommerce platforms with its sales and offers for products in the category of work from home/ study from home, this has subsequently will increase the demand for categories like small electronics, home furnishings, and electronic accessories.
  • Jio: Jiomart has entered the retail market with its online and offline retail stores. This will play a moderately strong role in growing sales in smaller cities, especially if strong integration with fashion/electronics commodities.
  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat: A strong push towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

With digital adoption, the shift with traditional offline shoppers moving online, and a change in consumer behaviour. This festive season will offer opportunities for eCommerce companies to grow and learn about the current consumers and their dynamic market. 

Trends-that-will-shape-Indian-eCommerce-in-2019

Trends that will shape Indian eCommerce in 2019

A lot has changed in the Indian eCommerce landscape in the last few years. As we move into another year towards the future, we see constantly changing eCommerce trends and take a new shape to cater to the more evolved audience.

What to look out for in eCommerce Trends 2019

Voice-activated searches

With easy voice searches enabled by AIs like Alexa, Siri, or Google, search engines like Google has made radical changes to its search result algorithms. This basically means that search will be more specific and yield specific results. This means the product discovery journey for users will also change and eCommerce brands will focus on such shifting trends in defining their search marketing strategy.

Vernacular aided experience

While India’s literacy rate is nearly 75%, those literate in basic English language is only 10% (125 million approximately). However, on the other hand, internet users in the country add up to nearly 481 million. Thus to fill the gap of linguistic preferences to internet usage, many eCommerce brands have already introduced regional language sites and this will continue to grow this year with more language options and more retailers trying to expand their audience base.

More omnichannel presence

While multi-channel has been the trend of 2018, omnichannel marketing will find its presence in eCommerce trends of this year, which will blur the lines between offline and online commerce. Brands will be mapping their user journey across channels and finally transition from multi-channel and detached presence to an integrated, omnichannel presence.

Refined product search

While social search has already been adopted by brands, it will only become more common and pervasive. This will also reduce the number of searches (for eCommerce products) on search engines and brands will most likely spend more advertising dollars on social marketing and other marketplaces.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Another interesting and rising trend in the retail business worth paying attention to is the integration of Virtual Reality in user experience. This year this is most likely to get leveraged further. By 2020, experts expect retailers to invest in Augmented Reality as well.

Top 5 eCommerce trends to look forward in 2019

From mobile-first practice to integration of augmented reality on the platforms, eCommerce future trends are promising a new and improved online experience for every customer. Here are some of the practices that every retailer and marketer is eyeing to implement in the coming year and change the face of the eCommerce landscape of future.

eCommerce trends 2019
AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality)
Major brands in the fashion and interior space (like Sephora, IKEA etc.) have already started using AR to create a realistic experience of their products. But as the usage of VR become widespread and retail giant Amazon taking the lead in AR-based apps, most retailers will follow suit and start integrating this trend in their customers’ shopping experiences.

Mobile-first experience
The mobile app industry could cross $189 billion by 2020 and all retailers are vying for their piece of pie in this growth. While search engines already require websites to be mobile-friendly, the practice will be more common with an increased number of smartphone users, where frameworks like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), will enable retailers to create fast-loading websites for mobile devices.

Videos on landing pages
Videos will very soon replace static content and comprise 80% of web traffic by 2019. However, besides using videos for brand films, educational content, testimonials, products, and FAQs, retailers will also look at increasing traffic by using a high-quality video in the hero carousel on the homepage or landing page of the brand site.

Digitizing Real World Experiences
The future of eCommerce 2020 will be all about creating a ‘phygital’ world. By extending the in-store shopping experience to the online platform through technologies like ‘scan and go’ retailers can reduce checkout processes and let their customers enjoy the benefits of both services.

Voice Commerce
The voice-enabled search will make for 50% of total online searches by 2020. Such a game-changing trend will influence Search Engine Optimization for businesses where retailers would redesign their site search algorithms and set the path for voice commerce.

Such trends are sure to help you with ideas that can grow your eCommerce business and see a promising future.

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