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The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) should focus on market study of e-commerce to check any anti-competitive practices and consumer protection in the fast-growing e-commerce and examine the report titled "Market Study on e-commerce in India" issued by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Wednesday.

Experts told Business Recorder here on Wednesday that the CCI on Wednesday released the said report on e-commerce. Such kind of comprehensive study in Pakistan can also be helpful for the sectors operating under the e-commerce. According to a tweet of Competition Commission of India on Wednesday, "The CCI releases the Market Study on Ecommerce. The key findings of the study and the observations of the Commission are available at"

In the past, a seminar was held by the CCP on "Multi-Stakeholder Event on Consumer Protection Issues in e-Commerce" for the development of Pakistan's National e-Commerce Policy Framework. The CCP would ensure implementation of right policies and regulations to encourage online trade while protecting the rights of the consumers and resolving consumer disputes in the online environment.

The Indian media reports said that the CCI has also advocated that e-commerce platforms increase transparency in search rankings, collection and use of data and user review and rating mechanisms. The CCI has also recommended that e-commerce platforms notify the businesses of any proposed changes in terms and conditions and only bring them into effect after a reasonable notice period.

The CCI has initiated a study on e-commerce to gather information and insights from market participants in goods and services. The study includes sectors like mobile phone, grocery, food, electronic/ electrical appliances, lifestyle and hotels.

According to the interim findings, restaurant owners, online platforms, hotels, online travel agencies, sellers and e-marketplace places raised their concerns related to discounts, commission and algorithm. Vendors or sellers said that e-commerce platforms give preferential treatment to certain sellers; there is a high search ranking for preferred sellers and they feel compelled to participate in discounts.

The report said that the e-commerce has increased price transparency and price competition in the country. This report titled 'Market Study on E-commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations' highlighted that e-commerce is gaining importance across the sectors in India. The search and compare functionalities of online platforms have lowered search cost for consumers and have provided them with a wide array of alternatives to choose from, the study revealed.

For businesses, e-commerce has helped expand market participation by aiding innovative business models, the study said.

The share of online distribution and its relative importance vis-à-vis traditional channels varies significantly across products. This divergence constrains construction of a unified competition narrative and points to the need for product-specific assessment of market and competition dynamics. The CCI report has also urged the e-commerce platforms to, among other things, bring out clear and transparent policies on discounts, including the basis of discount rates funded by platforms for different products/suppliers and the implications of participation/non-participation in discount schemes.

The e-commerce platforms have been asked to set out a clear and transparency policy on data that is collected on the platform, the use of such data by the platform and also the potential and actual sharing of such data with third parties or related parties. The study covered three broad categories of e-commerce in consumer goods (mobile phones, lifestyle, electrical and electronic appliances and grocery), accommodation services and food services. Sixteen online platforms, 164 business entities [including sellers (manufacturers and retailers) and service providers (hotels and restaurants)] and 7 payment system providers from across India participated in the study. In addition, 11 industry associations, representing different stakeholder groups, also participated.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020