CUTS

Status of E-Consumers in India: Evaluating Consumer Welfare of E-Consumers

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce in India, with the market value expected to reach USD 111 billion by 2024 and USD 200 billion by 2026. However, the pandemic has also impacted e-consumers’ behaviour and platforms’ practices, raising concerns related to counterfeit goods, product safety, predatory pricing, grievance redressal, data protection and privacy. To assess the impact of these factors on consumer welfare, CUTS conducted a study analysing the status of e-consumers in India through consumer surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022.

The study evaluates consumer welfare in e-commerce by categorising parameters that influence consumer welfare, such as convenience, cost-effectiveness, consumer confidence, grievance redressal and healthier competition. The 2021 survey found that convenience, costeffectiveness, and variety of products were key motivators for consumers to use e-commerce services. However, the study highlighted the need to improve grievance redressal mechanisms and data protection measures, as consumers expressed low confidence and concerns for these aspects.

The report captures relevant policy including reports by the Standing Committee on Commerce and the Standing lCommittee on Finance that address e-commerce regulation and anti-competitive practices. The growth of e-commerce must align with consumer sensitivities and maximise consumer welfare by including their voices in the policymaking process. This report presents a comparative analysis of consumer welfare in e-commerce for the years 2021 and 2022, considering recent policy developments.

The report underscores the risks and benefits of e-commerce, including unsafe products, unfair business practices, privacy breaches, and weak enforcement of laws. It also emphasises the evolving concept of consumer welfare in the digital economy and the importance of non-price factors such as quality, choice, and innovation. This helped in identifying five parameters: costeffectiveness, convenience, consumer confidence, grievance redressal, and healthier competition.

Cost-effectiveness is determined by factors like discounts, no added expenses, and price comparison options. Convenience includes indicators such as 24×7 ordering, product search, flexible delivery, and multiple payment modes. Consumer confidence is influenced by genuine products, accurate information, transactional security, and data protection. Grievance redressal examines action on complaints, timely resolution, and user-friendly processes. Healthier competition encompasses choice of products, competitive quality, and choice of platforms.

By diving deep into aforementioned issues, the study aims to inform policymakers, regulators, and e-commerce platforms on how to enhance consumer welfare in India. By analysing the impact and strength of the identified parameters, the study quantifies consumer welfare gains or losses between 2021 and 2022. It provides valuable insights into factors impacting consumer welfare in e-commerce and presents actionable recommendations for enhancing consumer welfare in India. The findings will benefit stakeholders in developing a nuanced understanding of e-consumer welfare and contribute to the betterment of policies and regulations.

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CUTS TRAI Consultation Paper on Encouraging Innovative Technologies, Services, Use Cases, and Business Models through Regulatory Sandbox in Digital Communication Sector

TRAI Consultation Paper on Encouraging Innovative Technologies, Services, Use Cases, and Business Models through Regulatory Sandbox in Digital Communication Sector

Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) expresses its gratitude to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for inviting comments on the Consultation Paper (CP) on Encouraging Innovative Technologies, Services, Use Cases, and Business Models through Regulatory Sandbox in Digital Communication Sector.

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The Evolving Context and Dynamics of the WTO Joint Initiative on E-commerce The fifth-year stocktake and prospects for 2023 -Cover

The Evolving Context and Dynamics of the WTO Joint Initiative on E-commerce

This report rovides a state of play of the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Electronic Commerce as of December 2022, focusing on developments in its fifth year, 2022, while situating it in the evolving e-commerce governance landscape at the national, regional, and multilateral levels.

At the national level, reports on increased policy activity related to e-commerce have warned against increased fragmentation. Regionally, Digital Economy Agreements emerged as more flexible arrangements that may be more suitable for capturing technological trends and innovations impacting e-commerce, such as artificial intelligence. At the multilateral level, and in the aftermath of COVID-19, bridging the digital divide became the core objective for discussions on reinvigorating the WTO Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.

Recent literature on e-commerce and global trends of e-commerce governance, the dynamics of the JSI negotiations in 2022, and the changes in the updated consolidated negotiating text circulated by the JSI co-conveners on December 22, 2022, point to the likelihood of JSI participants opting for a less ambitious agreement focusing on the lower-hanging fruit of e-commerce facilitation by the 13th Ministerial Conference while leaving contentious market access focus issues to potentially dealing with them later.

This report has been produced with funding by UK aid from the British Government. The Umbrella Grant is a project of the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) and is implemented by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and CUTS International, Geneva. Views expressed in the publication are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect HM Government’s official positions or those of TAF2+.

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Building Trust in the ONDC Network

Response to Open Network for Digital Commerce Consultation Paper : Building Trust in the ONDC Network

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) has invited public comments on its Consultation Paper “Building Trust in the ONDC Network”1. This is done to collect useful inputs for developing effective mechanisms for building trust in the ONDC Network and performing early course corrections. The paper discusses the various stages in the life cycle of a transaction under the ONDC model, explaining what measures ONDC has taken to foster trust at each stage and posing specific questions to solicit feedback.

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