Over 6 lakh sellers, SMBs to protest against foreign e-comm players at ‘Asmbhav’ summit

New Delhi, Apr 14 (Representative) Representatives and supporters of more than six lakh small Indian traders, distributors and merchants will come together at ‘Asmbhav Summit’ to protest against alleged discriminatory practices of foreign e-commerce players in the country. Interestingly, the event – which goes live on Thursday – will coincide with Amazon’s ‘Smbhav’ event for small and medium businesses in India that the global e-commerce giant will hold from April 15-18. ‘Asmbhav’ (which means impossible) summit is being organised by Indian Sellers Collective, which includes organisations like AIOVA (All India Online Vendors Association), All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA), and PRAHAR (Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal).

AICPD (All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation), FAIDA (Federation of All India Distributors Associations), and FMCG Distributors and Traders Association, Delhi are also part of the Indian Sellers Collective. ‘Asmbhav Summit presents an important forum for participants whose lives and livelihoods have been marred by the highly discriminatory and bullying attitude of foreign e-commerce retailers posing as marketplaces to collectively raise their voice against these partisan practices and impress upon the government the need for urgent regulatory and legal intervention,’ a statement said. The summit seeks to highlight the traders’ severe grievances and various challenges they face while selling online to foreign retailers.

Amazon did not respond to emailed queries seeking comments. Asmbhav summit will include a keynote discussion with Dr Ashwani Mahajan from Swadeshi Jagran Manch, followed by a series of panel discussions and presentations. It will also include Asmbhav Awards that ‘recognises the destructive contribution of individuals against the business interests of small Indian sellers and merchants’. The government is working on an e-commerce policy that will present a regulatory framework for the burgeoning sector in the country. The e-commerce market in India has boomed over the past few years, driven by increasing Internet penetration and attractive affordability offers from the various e-commerce players. However, offline retailers have complained that these platforms indulge in unfair practices and have sought government intervention as well. ‘Being Indian, our mobile retailers deserve a level and equitable playing field.

This is today just a pipe dream because of the nefarious practices adopted by the big foreign retailers operating platforms. ‘Firstly, on the one hand, these global retailers directly tie-up with leading mobile brands and on the other engage their own select resellers, who are none other than their related parties, to sell these brands on an exclusive basis,’ AIMRA President Arvinder Khurana said. Such tie-ups are both illegal and monopolistic, and that due to these malpractices, thousands of retailers across India are facing un-survivable losses and threats to their livelihoods, he added.

A spokesperson for AIOVA – a body representing online sellers – said a lot of members selling on the platforms suffer from a lack of business and due to this, many eventually shut shop. ‘There are huge conflicts of interests, disparity, absence of collective rights, dispute redressal mechanisms and high fees for selling. We hope to bring this stark fact in focus, both before the government and the public. ‘Our ‘Asmbhav’ summit brings into focus and out in the open the absence of regulations on platforms and their conduct with businesses which has allowed them to exploit sellers and their business,’ the spokesperson said.