With the recently rolled out Good and Services Tax (GST), online sellers are busy making changes to listings. But this isn’t the only change they will need to implement. A notification on June 23 from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs stated that it has changed the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. This amendment will now include ecommerce companies and online marketplaces under the purview of these rules.
The rules require etailers to make provisions for the declaration of online product –
- Expiry dates
- Maximum retail prices
- Country of origin
All of this information must be disclosed on online product pages for the basic purpose of protecting customers by keeping them informed.
When will this change affect ecommerce?
The above-mentioned details will be mandatory from January 1 of next year (2018).
Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017 says, “An ecommerce entity shall ensure that the mandatory declarations as specified, except the month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or packed, shall be displayed on the digital and electronic network used for ecommerce transactions.”
According to the amendment, the term ecommerce entities will comprise of platforms like BigBasket and Grofers that stock inventory will be subject to these rules directly.
But, in case of platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, which do not own inventory, the rule mentions that: the responsibility of the correctness of the declarations will depend on the manufacturer, seller, dealer or importer.
Making sure that sellers on their platforms follow these rules, however, will be the responsibility of online marketplaces.
IOS reported last month that the Central Government planned to amend the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, so online customer complaints reduce. This amendment was introduced after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and LocalCircles, a citizen engagement platform, discussed that people were pointing out that products sold online were close too expiration dates.
LocalCircles’ chief strategy officer, Yatish Rajawat said, “How do marketplaces manage to sell expensive and imported olive oil at a discount? These are all products bought by a dealer close to the expiry date and who is trying to sell it through this channel.”
Based on the new guidelines, food products will be subject to specifications set by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
What do marketplaces think?
With regard to this amendment, online marketplace Amazon India mentioned, “We work with our sellers to ensure that our customers receive safe food products well within their indicated shelf lives. We train employees to check best-before dates while storing and packing food products at our fulfilment centres.”
The co-founder of online grocery platform Grofers, Albinder Dhindsa said, “Typically, a product will ship to a customer only if it is within a reasonable window of usage. In case a customer complains about the expiry date within 48 hours of delivery, we offer a replacement. Expiry related complaints are fewer than two in 1,000 (products) for us.”