Flipkart is in the news again but not for good reasons. The marketplace was caught offering fake discount by inflating the MRP of a pair of sandals. Online shoppers took no time to shower Flipkart with severe criticism and questioned the site’s quality-standards.
On June 3rd, Calcutta based Mani Sankar Sen shared a screenshot of a pair of wedges on Flipkart’s Facebook page that opened the debate of fake online discounts once again. He wrote, “Dear Flipkart Team… Whenever we think of online shopping, we definitely check your site first for the product availability. You have built huge brand value in India. But these incidents damage customers’ trust factor, as well as your brand value. Please see the picture attached.”
What was in that picture? A pair of wedges by a new seller ‘Canvera’, MRP of which was written Rs. 799 and selling price Rs 399 after giving a discount of 50%. What the seller & Flipkart didn’t notice that one could see the actual ‘MRP Rs. 399’ printed on the belt of the sandal in one of the product image! Needless to say the post went viral.
Flipkart apologized and assured to look into the matter. However, few minutes later a user commented, “All they did now is they photoshopped the image and removed the mrp, while keeping the same 50% off ‘fake’ offer”, along with a screenshot of the same sandals without the MRP printed on the strap.
Another user wrote that the product is unavailable but has not been taken down. Eventually, Flipkart took down the product and the seller Canvera can’t be found on Flipkart as of now.
On the same thread another person shared an image of ‘Inkjet Ink’ bottle, where the MRP Rs. 300 can be clearly seen but on the Flipkart website the MRP was Rs 1100 and SP Rs. 800! It was later corrected.
Reacting to this controversy Flipkart officials shared this statement with DNA which read as, “Flipkart is a marketplace which helps sellers connect with customers across the country. We adopt a zero tolerance policy towards any instances where the seller has sold a product above the MRP stated on the label. When found in violation of our policy, sellers are suspended and further blacklisted. Flipkart takes utmost care in ensuring that product information on the marketplace is not misleading and for this, we rely on our sellers to share correct information with us.”
In most online retail businesses, when a seller enters an agreement with a marketplace, he/she is asked to share product images along with a price list and discount rate they are willing to offer to customers. The agreement has a clause, which asks for an assurance from sellers that the information and details shared by them is correct and not misleading. With that in mind, it can be said that beyond a point etailers don’t have much control on what sellers on their platform share ultimately despite of legal binding contracts involved.
What marketplaces can do is make seller screening process strict and not focus on discount model. It’s the focus on giving biggest discounts that has led to this degrading condition of online shopping. If big ecommerce players like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal shift their energies on quality instead of quantity, fraudulent sellers won’t get an entry and genuine sellers will get an opportunity to do good business. Also, why rope in more and more sellers if you can’t control the quality of products these merchants are selling on your platform? And blacklist sellers instead of dilly-dallying for too long.
Editor team is specialized in introducing the marketplace content targeting the Indian online sellers. They plan and coordinate to bring the appealing content for the small businesses on how to partner with the e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart and strategies for improving their online business.