Retail in Asia

In Markets

Why Indian e-commerce stars fight and can’t stand united against offline retailers and government rules

India’s ecommerce blue chips are disunited and fractious, even when confronted with a constricting set of central government rules – the April-announced policy on etailers and marketplaces – and various state-level taxation threats.

This is a more serious fight than Twitter put-downs, for example, those exchanged by Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal and Snapdeal’s Kunal Bahl.

Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, ShopClues and others face a determined and united brick-and-mortar retailers’ group, Retailers Association of India (RAI), but the stars of ecommerce can’t lobby the government with one voice. And the impact of this on the etailing business is at best uncertain.

ET spoke to a wide range of people from the ecommerce industry for this story. Many of them spoke on the condition they not be identified. Amazon and Flipkart did not respond to questions. Snapdeal responded, saying the company is working with all stakeholders on all important issues. “Brick-and-mortar retailers are a huge cartel, they will not even sell a bottle of water below an agreed price, unlike us,” a senior executive at a top etailer told ET, explaining the basic difference in online and offline retail trade.