Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Opinion | Another watchdog

The rapid growth of e-commerce players such as Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart appears to have unnerved India’s traditional mom-and-pop outlets

India is reported to be weighing the possibility of setting up a dedicated watchdog to regulate the online retail market and settle disputes. The rapid growth of e-commerce players such as Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart appears to have unnerved India’s traditional mom-and-pop outlets. These home delivery majors dominate shopping even in small towns now. If they are not making a splash with their discount sales on festivals, they are busy staving off charges of predatory pricing, which is the chief grouse of traditional outlets against them.

The government last month initiated a probe on whether online retailers were selling wares at discounts designed to push regular stores out of business, a predatory practice that competition authorities are expected to keep in check. According to a Jefferies report that came out in April, India’s online retail market is seen swelling to $170 billion by 2030, from $18 billion now. Some fear that small shops will shut down, allowing online players to exercise oligopolistic clout by sharply raising their retail margins. This would be an anti-trust issue. Maybe the sector merits a regulator of its own. But no over-regulation, please.

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