Only 4 in 10 consumers say eCommerce platforms are displaying the Country of Origin information for all products
- ● Only 3 in 10 consumers say that most of sellers/products have this information displayed
- ● Percentage of eCommerce consumers that look for Country of Origin information when shopping online rose from 37% in 2020 to 51% in 2022 showing that Indian consumers are becoming savvy
- ● While most older, established platforms now have the Country of Origin information for majority of products, same is not the case with newer platforms
May 9th, 2022, New Delhi: The Department of Consumer Affairs via the Packaged Commodity Rules Amendment, 2017 brought eCommerce under the ambit of legal metrology requiring key information on packaged products like MRP, best before date, Country of Origin, Net Contents, etc. to be displayed on eCommerce sites.
Post the Galwan Valley conflict with China in June 2020, the Government gave a push to create additional awareness about Made in India Products, and as part of it, started enforcement of the Country of Origin information to be displayed on eCommerce sites. The enforcement was done under the Packaged Commodity Rules Amendment, 2017 under Legal Metrology Act 2009, and per the Government’s own release, over 200 notices have been issued to eCommerce entities and online sellers and over 30 lakhs have been deposited by them in penalties for violations. Recently, the Delhi High Court asked the Centre to implement a proper mechanism for conducting periodical checks of eCommerce platforms to ensure compliance with rules relating to the display and packaging of products sold on their websites.
Over the years, LocalCircles has worked closely with the Department of Consumer Affairs in ensuring that consumer pulse is taken into account while making important policy decisions. In 2017-18, via Packaged Commodity Rules (amendment) 2017, “eCommerce” was included to comply with all legal metrology requirements, including MRP, best before date, net contents, and country of origin information were required to be displayed by all eCommerce platforms.
Post-2020, the usage of eCommerce apps and platforms has drastically increased and several new platforms have emerged. Several new platforms are now delivering groceries fast under the quick commerce banner. To understand how the compliance to country of origin display requirements by eCommerce apps and platforms was working out from a consumer perspective, LocalCircles conducted a national survey which received over 19,000 responses from consumers residing in 309 districts of India. 66% respondents were men and 34% were women. 49% of respondents were from tier 1, 32% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
Only 42% consumers surveyed found eCommerce apps platforms to be compliant in making country-of-origin information available
A previous survey by LocalCircles revealed that 39% of Indian households did not buy any Made in China products in the last 12 months. Further, of the households that did purchase China-made products, 67% reduced their purchases as compared to the year before. Recent geopolitical tensions were found to be the top change for a reduction in China-made products among Indian consumers. Therefore, effective compliance with the ‘country of origin’ rule became essential to enable Indian consumers to make an informed decisions while purchasing goods.
The first question in the survey asked consumers about how eCommerce platforms were now complying with the display or country of information on products. In response, 20% of consumers said “Most platforms and most sellers are now compliant” and 22% said “Most platforms are compliant but most sellers are not compliant”. There were also 9% who said “Most platforms not compliant but sellers make it available in product description, etc.” 19% said “Most platforms and most sellers are not compliant”. 15% of consumers said “generally don’t look for country of origin information when shopping via eCommerce sites/apps” and another 15% couldn’t say. This question in the survey received 10,078 responses.
42% consumers say eCommerce platforms are now making country of origin field available to sellers and consumers on products
If the options selected by consumers are analysed, 42% say eCommerce apps and platforms are now making the country of origin field available to sellers and consumers on most products. However, 28% of consumers said eCommerce apps and platforms remain non-compliant while 30% did not have an opinion or did not look for this information.
Consumers raised complaints against several platforms like City Mall, Lenskart and Shop 101 and shared screenshots which can be found in the appendix section of this report.
29% consumers say eCommerce sellers are now making country of origin information available on products
If the options selected by consumers are analysed, 29% of consumers say most eCommerce sellers are now making the country of origin available on products. 41% of consumers say most sellers remained non-compliant in displaying “country of origin” information while 30% did not have an opinion or did not look for this information.
51% of the consumers that shop online look for Country of Origin information; Price, Delivery date, Ratings & Reviews most important to consumers
The next question in the survey asked consumers about what information they generally look at when buying a product from an eCommerce platform. In response, 5% of consumers said, “Price and Delivery Date” and 22% said “Price, Delivery Date, Rating & Reviews.” Breaking down the poll, 13% said “Price, MRP, Discount, Delivery Date and Best before date,” 9% said “price, MRP, Discount, Delivery Date, Ratings & Reviews, Best before date” and 51% said “Price, MRP, Discount, Delivery Date, Rating & Reviews, Best before date and country of origin.” This question in the survey received 9,381 responses. Overall, 51% of consumers said that they are now looking for Country of Origin information when they shop online.
The percentage of eCommerce consumers that looked for Country of Origin information when shopping online in 2020 was 37% which rose to 43% in 2021 and is now at 51%, indicating that India’s eCommerce consumer is increasingly becoming savvy and is opting to make informed decisions.
Overall, nearly 2 years after the Government asked eCommerce platforms to ensure compliance to display the Country of Origin, 42% of consumers said that they were able to find this information on the platforms for most products. Further analysis of complaints shows that most of the older, established platforms are now compliant and giving this field to sellers. However, some of the newer platforms are still non-compliant and not even giving such a field to sellers. On the seller front, a lot more work needs to be done as only 29% of consumers said that most sellers were displaying this information for all products. The need of the hour is for eCommerce platforms to ensure that sellers are complying, and those that don’t face action beyond the Government action. The Department of Legal Metrology needs to ensure it makes its interfaces easier for a consumer to file a complaint. Also, it needs to make a provision where class action complaints on which hundreds of consumers have given their acceptance or concurrence are taken up expeditiously and actioned within days as opposed to months. Similarly, for up-and-coming sellers who may not necessarily have the ability to read English and upload this information, provisions must be made to upload an image of the principal display panel or PDP on eCommerce platforms which will show the Country of Origin information.
If both the Government and eCommerce platforms do their bit, the Country of Origin compliance will improve quickly and the biggest beneficiaries will only be the platforms as they will enjoy higher consumer trust and as a result volume of business.
The survey received over 19,000 responses from consumers residing in 309 districts of India. 66% respondents were men and 34% were women. 49% of respondents were from tier 1, 32% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The study was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.
Appendix – Some examples of “Country of Origin “non-compliance raised by consumers