How is it that companies like Amazon and Flipkart continue to sell at discounted prices despite being in heavy losses, asked Praveen Khandelwal, national secretary-general of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) at a panel discussion organised by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on August 30. “Venture capital and private equity firms are least interested in the business model of companies. They want to increase the market value of a company and then sell it off. That is also the story of e-commerce companies in India,” Khandelwal said. He also alleged that while associations like his have been asking for an e-commerce policy, “these companies have stalled it”. “There’s just no regulatory mechanism to help us,” he noted. The panel was discussing the advent of e-commerce in India, and how small and medium retailers have been feeling the pinch of the sector’s boom. Khandelwal also said, “Who are the first 10 sellers on an e-commerce portal? Check it. These [sellers] are offshoots of that particular e-commerce company.” He directed this question towards Amazon’s senior corporate counsel Rahul Sundaram, who defended Amazon’s business strategies and said that Amazon was a pure play market, didn’t prioritise sellers, and didn’t decide prices of products on its platforms. Khandelwal along with Kush Agarwal, a member of All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) argued fiercely against e-commerce companies in India and grilled Amazon’s Rahul Sundaram over the company’s practises. Snapdeal and VMart representatives remained comparatively quiet across the panel, making points sporadically. Against deep discounting and predatory…
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