Small traders backed by The Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) staged a protest against Amazon and Flipkart in the capital on Thursday raising concerns around the recent announcement made by both the online retailers to work with MSME’s across India, that representatives of CAIT called a “collusion between the government with Amazon & Flipkart". Representatives of CAIT also continued to raise concerns around steep discounts offered by e-retailers that they said are distorting the retail market in India—an issue that has been a point of contention between small traders and e-retailers for years now.
Traders who own small mobile shops, stores that sell daily groceries, medicine stores, and small gift shops joined the protest led by CAIT today.
“We have no objection against Amazon and Flipkart doing their business in India, but they have to follow FDI (in e-commerce) policy, the government must ensure that," Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT’s, secretary general, said. “Our point of contention is when traders are subject to following rules then why are companies not following policies," he added.
Earlier this week, Walmart Inc said it is rolling out a program--Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Program--to work closely with 50,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME's) across India to help them scale, build capacity, and perhaps be part of global supply chains. On the same day, American e-retailer Amazon too said it has partnered with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to facilitate the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises online. The two will help such businesses list and sell their goods and services online.
CAIT representatives said that the MSME ministry should instead work towards developing an independent e-commerce portal and on-board small traders independently.
The protest staged on Thursday are part of a long and on-going agitation by small traders against large e-commerce companies who they claim have distorted the retail market over the last few years by offering steep discounts, indulging in predatory pricing and flouting FDI rules that govern e-commerce in the process.
“We want only one thing: same price, same model, same product to be sold online and offline," Manoj Rana, who runs a mobile phone and accessories shop in Badarpur told Mint at the site of the protest. Rana who has been business since 1997, said that things have gotten worse over the last 2 years as brands have been given preference to online retailers over small brick and mortar retailers. Rana is of the belief that brands should too hold conversations with traders and follow a fair pricing strategy that will not impact businesses like his.
CAIT has been also raising concerns that brands too are complicit in pushing more discounted goods online and selling online-specific inventory that also aids more consumer shift to e-commerce retailers. “There cannot be a two- price structure, even companies and brands need to come in line," Khandelwal added.
India’s retail market is still dependent on small traders that sell everything from goods of daily use, groceries, to small gift items, mobile phones, apparel etc. These are typically small mom-and-pop stores that rely on regular customers footfalls to keep business going.
On December 27, traders in various cities of will go on a day-long token hunger strike, CAIT said in a press statement on Thursday.