Indian Merchants Fight Back Against Amazon

Brahm Buck

Share Tweet Share Share Share Email Small businesses in India are fighting back against Amazon and other big foreign sellers in a move to actively protest what they see as an unfair competitive advantage for U.S. technology platforms, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (April 14). Scores of smaller businesses are setting the […]

Small businesses in India are fighting back against Amazon and other big foreign sellers in a move to actively protest what they see as an unfair competitive advantage for U.S. technology platforms, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (April 14).

Scores of smaller businesses are setting the stage for a protest event on Thursday (April 15), which coincides with Amazon’s yearly jamboree for its sellers in India. Retailers in the country are escalating the fight for a piece of India’s potential market of 1.3 billion shoppers. The group is also protesting against Walmart’s Flipkart.

“Over half a million sellers and leading small trader groups are participating in the Asmbhav event, which will focus on ruined livelihoods because of the bullying and partisanship by eCommerce marketplaces,” Abhay Raj Mishra, head of the nonprofit Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal (PRAHAR), told Bloomberg.

Asmbhav — which means “impossible” in Hindi — is just one of the many protests being led by a collective of Indian sellers to tackle the “unfair practices” brought about by foreign eCommerce businesses, per the article. 

Local traders in India have not been shy about pointing to Amazon and Flipkart as being detrimental to a competitive selling landscape in the country. Merchants have long accused both eCommerce powerhouses of stifling competition and the associated livelihoods of the businesses and people who work and live in the country.

The government’s move would also enforce existing rules that prohibit eCommerce platforms from “owning or controlling” companies that sell on their websites, from making exclusive deals with manufacturers of products, and from offering discounts on goods.

The Amazon event initially launched in 2020 with founder Jeff Bezos in attendance. This year’s four-day event will be virtual. Amazon’s annual seller event — called Smbhav, or “possible” — is being attacked by India’s small traders, distributors and merchants as unfair. 

The Indian government is anticipated to react with stronger regulations and a possible change in foreign investment rules. In addition to Amazon and Flipkart, the planned changes will also apply to Reliance.

Amazon late last month asked the Indian government to hold off on new mandates. Last week, it pointed out that since January 2020, it has added more than 250,000 small and medium-sized business (SMB) sellers in India.

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