Protecting Competition in E-Commerce
Do stricter laws or regulations for monopolist like Amazon harm the price of products?
International Technology Transfer Management
Written by: Robert Wagner, Siddharth Shroti, Celina Mittelsten Scheid,
Sneha Routhu, Ana Batista Silva
Teacher:Prof. Dr. Verena Hahn
Submitted:12. August 2018
Introduction (Robert Wagner)………………………………………………5
What is E-Commerce? (Robert Wagner) …………………………………6
Terminology of E-Commerce………………………………………..6
Importance of E-Business and its Business Models……….7
Trends in E-Commerce………………………………………..10
Competition in E-Commerce (Siddharth Shroti)…………………………11
What are ‘Platforms’ and how do we classify them………………11
What enhances E-Commerce?…………………………………………….11
Legal Aspect (European Union)…………………………………….14
Legal Aspect (Germany)…………………………………………….15
Market Share in E-commerce………………………………………15
Where is competition limited in E-Commerce?……………………….16
4Competition problems in E-Commerce (Sneha Routhu) ……………….17
4.4Legal and ethical issues…………………………………………….20
4.5Intellectual property issues………………………………………….21
5 Transparencies given by E-Commerce (Ana Batista Silva) ……………23
5.1.1 How Transparency improves the Buying Experience ……………24
5.2 Taking Advantage of Re-Buys………………………………………25
5.3 Relation on Cost and Transparency………………………………..26
6.Regulation in e-commerce – policy instruments to regulate dominant
platforms (Celina Mittelsten Scheid) ………………………………………28
6.2Regulations of the European Union………………………..30
6.2.1 Competition Law……………………………………………..30
6.2.2General Data Protection Regulation……………………….31
6.2.3Proposal for Transparency………………………………….32
Will product prices increase by introducing stricter law regulations
for E-Commerce monopolists like Amazon? (Ana Batista Silva)………34
IIList of References……………………………………………………………36
B2BBusiness to Business
B2CBusiness to Customer
B2B2CBusiness to Business to Customer
E-Business Electric Business
E-Commerce Electric Commerce
EEAEuropean Economic Area
E-Information Electric Information
GDPRGeneral Data Protection Regulation
MFN Most Favored Nation
NCAsThe National Competition Authorities
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
SMESmall and Medium Sized Enterprises
TFEUTreaty on the Functioning of the
T&CsTerms and Conditions
1 Introduction (Robert Wagner)
We live in exciting times. Science, technologies and innovations are opening up worlds to us that we could decades ago never dream about.
Online trading or also known as e-commerce is one of the major achievements by creating the internet in the end of the 20th century.
Humanity was used to trade with their own goods that they have created with the power of their garden or the products of their animals like the meat of pigs, cows or goats. By exchanging the goods with neighbors, humans created the possibility to get access to a much broader variety of goods and food. The bigger the garden the more products the farmer was able to create and also to exchange. In the event that a farmer is able to specializes himself on a specific product, he can create a certain market power by being the only supplier for a particular product in his town. In case of that other framers want to sell the same goods, the established supplier can lower the prices to create higher market barriers to enter. The way how bartering works to achieve a monopolistic position is also achievable with nowadays given technologies.
This paper will focus on e-commerce in general in order to give a broader understanding of the topic of online trading but will also give insights of the regulations and laws that exists created by the European Union and Germany to save purchaser against upcoming companies that lead to a monopolistic position. This academic paper will also discuss competitions in e-commerce and its problems and will complete with a discussion of stricter laws and regulations that could harm product prices by the leading e-commerce enterprises.
By approaching all aspects of e-commerce problems and competing businesses the reader receives not just a broad but also a very detailed understanding about the sensitive boarder between the necessary regulations and its dependence to product prices.
2 What is E-Commerce? (Robert Wagner)
Before this academic paper can start going into details it have to discuss basic terms in order to receive a better overview about the overall topic. One of these terms is electric information. The Internet and the World Wide Web are nowadays much more than a simple tool for exchanging and processing of information. It is a central place for international electric communication interactions. The Internet is a decentralized system of computers and servers that all use the same type of TCP/IP communication protocol to directly or indirectly exchange information with each other. The TCP/IP communication protocol can be imagined as walkie-talkies or radio devices that are set to same frequency to interact on the same level with each other. The term “electric information” describes the transfer of digital information between known or unknown parties which creates the opportunities for new electronic business models on order to increase a connected world.
Concepts of the commercialization via a digitalized online platform was the beginning of upcoming words like electronic commerce or electronic business which are also shorter known as e-commerce or e-business.
The first idea of one of the biggest and also worldwide known buying and selling platform is eBay which was created in September 1995 by the founder Pierre Omidar and launched with the name AuctionWeb. Nowadays the main concept of the website remains still the same like 23 years ago. The platform is “dedicated to bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open market place”.
2.1 Terminology of E-Commerce
Before this chapter is having a detailed view on the e-commerce terminology it has to be understood under which categories the term belongs to. The overall category is the electronic business where e-commerce is only one major part.
In consideration of production and information, the second term achieved a much greater importance in society in the past two to three decades, because product selling nowadays is based on the foundation of the creation by internet technologies and innovations that allow retailers, sellers and buyers completely new ways of gaining new experiences in sales and marketing.
The term e-business summarizes a diverse number definition of initiation as well as a complete support, transaction and maintenance of the exchange of service between different parties trough information or digital technologies.
The main goal is to create added value. The terminology of e-business is an overall category, as previously mentioned, for several sub businesses like e-commerce, e-communication, e-education, e-information and e-entertainment. But this academic paper will focus more on the subfield of e-commerce.
The terminology of e-commerce is defined under a broad understanding which does not have a specific detailed description. It is related more to an overall definition of the meaning. The areas of applications of e-commerce are diverse which lead to different viewing perspectives. Generally, the term is defined as electronical way of business processing by using a public or a private communication network – internet – to satisfy needs of goods and products. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, also known as OECD defines e-commerce transaction as “the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed or the purpose of receiving or placing of orders. (…) An e-commerce transaction can be between enterprises, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations”.
2.2 Importance of E-Business and its Business Models
The importance of e-business is established with the creation of the Web 2.0. The Web 1.0 is perversion of the Internet as it is consumed nowadays by humanity. This lean version allowed the function to create website and to publish them. The real benefits will be clear by defining the term Web 2.0 which was created by the publisher Tim O’Reilly in 2005. The Web 2.0 allows the interaction between users, consumers as well as producers of content that is why in literatures the functionally of this version is described as a web of “User Generated Content”. Application possibilities increased with this new internet concept that allowed to establish and maintenance relationships (Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), creation of blogs and vlogs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) and the possibility to exchange not just ideas but also goods and services by using the World Wide Web.
The success of the Web 2.0 leads big international players from sales and distribution businesses to invest more into the functionality and into the market potential of e-business or more in detail of e-commerce. International players like Amazon and eBay tend to extend their businesses into a variety of new market potentials to increase their revenue.
– Amazon was founded 1995 by Jeff Bezos and started in the first place by only selling books. The strategy that he followed was to offer every existing book stored in his warehouse and to being able to deliver an order, that was ordered from his own website, within a few days which makes local bookshops unnecessary. Bezos was able to deliver faster and cheaper because he did not have to pay the local store coast. His nowadays strategy increased from selling books into being able to sell almost everything over its own internet platform from a to z. Even Amazon’s current logo shows an arrow starting from Amazons “A” and stretches along until its “Z” which is an allusion to its own strategy to offer products nowadays from A to Z. –
But also small and medium sized enterprises as well as new entrants into a specific market segment first of all start their business in the internet. The World Wide Web offers the possibility to start a new business with a tight budget and low entering barriers within B2B just as B2C. Companies get the chance to easily monitor their competitors and to create their own website within hours by using a homepage toolbox kit that allows owners to build their homepage easily and cheap. The main benefit of nowadays technologies are that entrepreneurs are able to shift their product within days from their production factory to their warehouse and into the living room of their customers. This new technology systems enables e-business and a worldwide globalization to receive and to produce information constantly by everyone.
A start-up or an international company that wants to create or change their strategy of selling products compared to their previous or to existing methods and developments has to consider several points in their business model:
– A clear definition of the company’s products and services in accordance to its level of digitalization
– Identification of ideal target customer and the target business market
– Development of the business plan and product prices
– Creation of a security plan
– Evaluation of the fitting Business-Web for own business.
“(Business-Web) (…) is a `distinct system of suppliers, distributors, commerce services providers, infrastructure providers, and customers that use Internet for their primary business communication and transactions´ (Tapscott et al. 2000: 17)”
2.3 Network Effect
To better understand the reasons why e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon achieve a fast international and local success, it is important to be familiar with the meaning of the term network effects. Network effects are separated into two categories. Into direct and indirect network effects.
The term that describes the direct effect is related to a system which network value is increasing by adding new users. This can be better understood by taking a closer look into the market launch of Apple’s rising star the Apple Watch in April 2015. This smart watch is manufactured with features like enabling calling right from your arm, accelerator sensor and a heartbeat sensor that support people during their daily life or sport activities. One of the sub-features of the heartbeat sensor was that the owners were able to track their own heartbeat and to share it with other Apple Watch owners in their contact list or group of friends. Although this feature worked, owner were only satisfied by the rise of user numbers, because before that event owners were simple not able to use this specific function, because they simply had no one to share their heartbeat with.
The second category of the term is the indirect network effect which is more related to the success story of eBay, Amazon or any other e-commerce platform. The more users will be included into a system the bigger the whole benefit for the existing ones will be. The existing users will notice better communication, information flow and transfer as well as more security protections for upcoming business transactions will be created.
This category can also be described as a network circle, because the more people are using a platform, the more money the platform will have to upgrade security protections for transactions. The better security transactions a certain platform is able to offer, the more users choose it for their daily businesses which leads again to the first point. Established companies on the market that successfully implemented that effect by reaching the so called “critical mass” are creating entering and competition barriers for upcoming companies that are not able to afford the necessary security or quality standards. That effect keeps companies like eBay and Amazon in a monopolistic position. The following chapters will have a closer look into competitions in e-commerce including their difficulties.
2.4 Trends in E-Commerce
In nowadays rapidly changing technological progresses the future trends of e-commerce are only hard to predict. The development of the internet and its possibilities created a good chance for pioneers to establish innovations faster and to overcome competitors by generating entering barriers. Even just entered start-ups in a specific market are able to achieve a significant importance for its industry. A perfect example is Tesla, an automotive company founded by Elon Musk in 2003 that is focusing in his enterprise on autonomous driving and e-mobility concepts. The main success of this company are the fast communication methods to spread Tesla’s ideas and innovation over the internet via Twitter for example and to show big international companies like BMW, Volkswagen etc. how fast the company is able to adapt itself to the demand of their customers. The magazine “t3n” describes Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk as a “vision or dream-seller” instead of an automotive company, because the founder is more active in calling for attention for its technologies instead of producing high quality cars. Since Elon Musk is able to provide information and announcements increasingly fast nowadays by using social media like the short messaging service Twitter, he is more or less doing electric commerce by publishing his dreams and visions. 66% in 2018 of the modern humanity is owner of a Smartphone which allows to interact and to communicate information via internet within seconds. That proves why Musk is able to reach a high number of population with his ideas.
This is one indication that the trends for e-commerce is more moving into direction of mobile devices instead of desktop computers to sell and to buy products as well as to interact with others digitally.
3 Competition in E-Commerce (Siddharth Shroti)
3.1 What are ‘Platforms’ and how do we classify them?
Platforms are the spaces created to accommodate the activity of buying and selling of products involving businesses and customers. Types of platforms that exist today are:
E.g. Shopping Malls (Retailers + Customers)
2) Digital platforms:
i) Website of the company
ii) E-commerce platforms: E.g. Amazon/ Facebook (Advertisers + Software developers + Digital marketing companies + Individual Users)
New concepts today diversify into mobile phone applications being created by MNC’s to connect industries such as:
Siemens & General Electric : exclusive platform for manufacturing industry
John Deer: exclusive platform for agricultural sector
3.2 What enhances E-commerce?
Starting an E-commerce business is never easy and running lucrative is even more difficult considering the competition from both local and international brands around. Also, although there exist a few tricks and tips to boost sales on E-commerce platforms, they would not be effective without the right strategies. A few strategies deployed by E-commerce giants today can look something like the following:
Paid Traffic: Product suggestions are made to buyers classified on the basis of audience age group, Location of people, Devices used by people.
For example, for the target audience of the age group of females aged between 15 and 40, the suggested item could be beauty products or heeled shoes but for an age group of above 40, the product might be different.
Likewise based on the location of customer, in a hotter region, the products offered could be something like portable fans and barbeque accessories whereas on the other hand for a colder region, jackets and masks would make a better choice.
Upselling: The strategy of popping the ‘next better model’ to a prospective buyer. For example how Apple’s website suggests an IPhone 7 to a buyer browsing IPhone 6 features.
Free Shipping: Statistics show that most of the items left in the cart without being bought online are the ones by the people who were not willing to shell out an extra amount for shipping costs. Therefore most of the E-commerce giants now offer products with free shipping.
Video Demonstration: Customer tends to buy a product which he/she can visualise just as if he/she is doing while standing in a virtual shop.
Customer Service: Features such as Live Chat can be game changers for E-commerce websites to gain concrete customer trust.
Rewarding regular customers: Offering special deals and discounts to customers who have continuous activity on the website with a particular account has become trendy to boost revenue.
Holiday Promotions: Since during time periods nearing occasions such as Christmas, the buying tendency of the general public increases, many sellers roll out holiday based schemes to attract crowds.
Sense of Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency amongst customers is a very commonly used technique to commit customers to buy an item. For example many a times while booking a flight, the number of seats for a particular destination are shown as “only 2 seats left” which helps in sales although there might be more than just 2 seats left in reality.
3.3 Market Power
In theory, if a company is said to sustain market power over a particular period of time, it is possible only in case the company is able to raise prices of products without losing customer base, technically binding consumers to keep buying from them. Such a scenario takes place in the probability that no or very little competition in the market for that particular product exists.
However, in an opposite concept known as ‘Perfect Competition’ can be deemed as a scenario where the demand for a product or service equals supply in that segment. For example, such a concept might take place during a horse race betting, where customers can easily look down to analyse who is offering the best odds. If a bookie is offering worse odds than the others in market, the customers will shift to other bookies for placing their bets.
Similarly, in the vast sector of dynamically developing field of E-commerce, the distribution of Market Power is evidently uneven in most of the regions around the globe.
Certain E-commerce companies have now built enormous market power in certain segments of products with some tricky strategies to create barriers for competitors to enter the market creating a monopoly. An interesting strategy that companies now deploy to attain market power is that they register themselves as sellers on their own platform and compete with other sellers by incentivising their product offers more prominently. Their next step to success remains in keeping a track of the transactions done by other dealers. Further, by data analysis, they add high demand and volumes to their own product portfolio only to gradually squeeze down customer access to other dealers.
Due to increase in number of dealers entering the market, in the short term the competition might be regulated in limits but the competition authority must monitor such conduct to prevent monopoly.
Another out-of the-box strategy doing the rounds on the E-commerce platform occurs when the dealers who try to sell their product on an E-commerce platform are subject to ‘product bundling’. An example of product bundling can be where the platform imposes an obligation on the dealers to use a particular service offered to them if they wish to use their platform as a means to sell. So to simplify, a platform may ask the dealers to use only their payment service as a mean to obtain payment from the customers and are not allowed to use their own payment system thereby losing a certain amount to the platform. Such anticompetitive areas must be observed by the authorities and sanctions must be pre-determined in each case if found guilty.
3.4 Price Undercutting
Price undercutting, is a pricing strategy where in, a product or a service is offered at an extremely low price with the simple plan to push competitors out of the market or to create barriers to entry for potential new competitors. Theoretically, in case competitors or probable competitors fail to maintain equal or lower rates without losing money, they go out of business or choose not to enter the business at all. The so-called predatory merchant then has fewer competitors or even is a de facto monopoly.
Such an aggressive move today is done online to increase boost turnover in short spans on time and becoming a regular supplier to the market only to bind customers to their advantage. Such practises however are tricky to prove in court and often the competitors are brushed out of the market even before the case is heard. Price Undercutting is labelled anti-competitive in many jurisdictions and is illegal under competition laws.
3.5 Legal Aspect (European Union)
Under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pricing below cost is prohibited where the seller has a dominant market position and the pricing will have an anti-competitive effect.
Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:
(a) Directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
(b) Limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;
(c) Applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(d) Making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.
3.6 Legal Aspect (Germany)
Sections 19 and 20 of the Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC) prohibit the abuse of a dominant position. Section 19 lists in more detail the entities with market power addressed by the Act. Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union also applies, although it has some differences with the ARC.
3.7 Market Share in E-commerce
Starting with the sale of CD’s back in the year 1994, it took e-commerce to generate 18 years to generate sales revenue of 1 Trillion dollars but as the trend gets stronger week by week, with improved shipping, payment, website maintenance services resulted in revenue to sky rocketed to 2 Trillion dollars worldwide by 2015.
A lot has been observed in the previous years regarding E-commerce and how it has shaped the buying patterns of consumers all over the world. Research shows that about 1 Billion people have made an online purchase, 65% of which prefer sourcing globally over locally due to price difference. A major source of online sales has been generated with the help of E-mails that generally make most of the spaces in one’s spam folder but still proves to be a market winner in today’s time.
In this report we shall be specifically observing the figures that depict the E-commerce platform revenue values in regions where the trend of buying online seems to take a steep upwards curve.
With the world’s largest population, Alibaba has kept about 443 million users busy on their website in 2016 to soak in revenue of 24 Billion dollars in China. The country is highly dominated by Alibaba’s spin-off company Tmall with a staggering 56.6% market share serving only in Chinese language. Tmall is followed by another giant JD occupying just under 25%.
In the same year the very prominent platform Amazon mounted revenue of over 177 Billion dollars accounting for 49% share across United States selling various products online. It has an enormous number of third-party sellers which attract traffic to the platform offering special prices frequently.
In recent findings Amazon has acquired an online pharmacy company ‘PillPack’ to enter the health care industry after merging with ‘Whole Foods’, an American supermarket chain specializing in selling organic foods across U.S and U.K to enter the Food Industry.
Germany has a record of products being sent back. Up to 50% of the products ordered are sent back. However Germany seems all about 2 big players, namely Amazon and Local platform Otto who own nearly half of the online market, thus making it difficult for new players to enter. In 2015, Amazon had a turnover near to 8 million euros followed by Otto at 2.5 million euro and Zalando at 1 million euro. The rest to follow the list were Notebooksbilliger, Cyberport and Bonprix.
3.8 Where is competition limited in E-Commerce?
Since the E-commerce industry is growing at the rate of about 17% per year it is evident to say that it has come a long way ever since it started in 1994 and one of the major factor which led to its expansion has been the rise in technology. It is also the area which could be better developed to tap markets better. Some technologies that are still not adapted by main stream users can become general with time, a few to be noted are:
Artificial Intelligence: With the help of data collection of users that most of the platforms do today, the process of implementation of AI can be simplified by the creation of algorithms and user specific codes. This helps in deciding beforehand what the user is exactly looking for. Due it’s high investment factor, most of the firms have not made use of it but as the technology in this idea becomes democratized, it will be used regularly to solve problems such as visual searching of products, recommendation systems( accurate size and colour suggestions to users) and will as well see the rise of virtual buying assistants which shall assist in buying or reserving a specific product in case it goes on sale overnight.
VR Shopping: Problems today with the Brick and Mortar shops are some which have been existed since many years but without a solution. In the era of online shopping, people avoid waiting in queues, searching racks for the correct sizes and eventually wasting time commuting.
To counter this problem, Chinese platform Alibaba introduced Virtual Reality glasses to the general public in China who could browse, select and buy just by standing in a single spot from a famous Macy’s store at Times Square in New York which was practically thousands of miles away.
Drone Delivery: According to market surveys conducted in different regions, it has been observed that 50% of people shopping online are willing to pay extra for same day delivery. Its interesting to note that today the sales generated by same day delivery is just 1% whereas in the near future it might account to 15% in case drones are made fully functional.
Amazon has already tried this for its prime users and Chinese platform Jingdong plans to fly tones of them soon.
4 Competition Problems in E-Commerce (Sneha Routhu)
One of the major roles of internet is to make the whole economic system nationally and internationally more potential more competitive by bringing the market closer. In this process of competition, a lot of issues arise in e-commerce. Some of them are:
1. Technical issues
2. Perceptual issues
3. Societal issues
4. Legal and ethical issues
5. Intellectual property issues
6. Business issues.
4.1 Technical issues
a) Inter-operability: It includes the internet working standard, those are TCP and IP.
The TCP function helps in managing of overall network in one end of the TCP. The information must be categorized into data packets by giving right sequence number and tagging to each packet before submitting to IP layer on the other end TCP assembles all the packets in the original order.
When coming to IP it’s tough to manage the addressing and routing. In addressing we must determine the right address to be used and in routing check for the best possible route for transmission.
b) Security: There will be many threats to the system out of all there are three main security threats.
Denial of services which are three types:
Volume or network based is an attempt to make the e-service unavailable temporarily for the host connected to the internet. This is achieved by overloading a target network automatically which makes it unavailable for use the main objective is to frustrate the target and damage its brand equity which makes organization to handle the issue.
Protocol based: This type of attach by the server which can alter the communication between the application based. It is achieved by creating vulnerabilities create in the application software which causes the web server to hang or gash.
Unauthorized service: Authentication is made by which the parties in an online transaction trust no party can disbate the online even taking place due to inadequate verification and security measurement which is possible to compromise the data in the transit way through fishing techniques. Fishing scams is an attempt acquire sensitive information such as details user password by pretending as a trust worthy entity
Theft and fraud It is achieved by sealing payment information fraudently acquires bank or credit card details to attain retail transaction without the owner’s knowledge. Automation technology contributes towards the fraud enabling the attacker to script the transactions on the online portal with ease.
Privacy: As the internet is unregulated, unmanaged and uncontrolled, it leads to lot of threats to the data of system overcutting on it unauthorized tries to the access the personal data without consumer notice.The hackers peep through the data sets of the merchant’s website by imparting malware into ecommerce site. The privacy comprised when the costumer enters the data and the hackers can access it even before it reaches webserver. Even if the sites themselves have strong security protection sometimes the devices or networks accessing them don’t. For example, the privacy information is fraudently obtained when used on mobile devices for online shopping.
4.2 Perceptual issues:
In this trust is the main most important barrier. For example, Merchant should build a trust in the buyer for their protection product security line protecting their self- data redit cards. The key components of trust involve, predictability which means by sending continuous emails and keeping the buyer updated with their purchase order some fail to do that. Reliability in some cases the actual thing and features of a certain product are not accurate as shown on their ecommerce site.Technical competence is the ability to carry out the responsibilities and show this to potential users. Fiduciary responsibilities when this some fail to act depend customer’s interests and requirements. Examples: online travel agencies.
4.3 Societal issues
If often becomes difficult to know where is responsible and accountable for challenger/others being faced by the society in the e-commerce world. Identifying the shareholders. Apart from technical challenges there are social concerns that needs consideration social concerns such as trust and digital democracies. This is posing dilemmas and influencing the construction of an effective and socially responsible strategy for ecommerce. The trust is a key issue and lack of which online transactions are reported to be adopted relatively.
4.4 Legal and ethical issues
To protect your business from theft ecommerce sites should use httc/ssl to security collect the sensitive information. They should adhere to compliance guidelines use of trusted platforms for financial transaction of data must be encouraged. It is important that e commerce should maintain the effort to lift their product accurately and honestly. Due to lower quality the costumer often gets disappointed due to lower quality and inadequate attribute.
Often, we see the headlines about the consumer being frauded by merchants. There are many e-commerce websites on the internet. The fraud e-commerce websites are growing as fast as the internet growth or even faster than the internal because of these websites there is a chance of crime over the internet. In the first few years public had come across many problems such as over the internet, copyright, domain names etc.
Here below a case study about the ethical issue caused by amazon.
Amazon apology over Indian flag doormats
Amazon Canada was selling the tricolour Indian flag doormats provided by the third party these were issued on the website of amazon. As the Indian flag is a pride of their nation they protested the amazon selling the Indian flag doormats. As the protests were on Indian government stood for the pride of their nation. Then the foreign affair minister responded on the issue and threatened to refuse visas to amazon officials and to withdraw visas already 6 given to amazon employees in India. If the global e-trailer don’t stop selling the Indian flag doormats and demanded unconditional apologies from amazon.
On this note from Indian government amazon removed all the products from its website which are defaming or insulting the nation and apologized the following day after.
4.5 Intellectual property issues
When running an e-commerce site many intellectual property issues carries such protecting the copyrights for the software, arts such as literature, music which involves a person tampering the software or copying the literature artwork etc. when coming to patents it needs to protect the inventors on the other hand every brand has its own significance if a product has to go into the market and it to be identified by the customers they have their own brand names and logos which are nothing but trademarks to be protected. The sites should globally uniformity of laws because different countries may have different laws, different copyrights roles, software’s considering all these an e-commerce site must work on the products.
4.6 Business issues
In this competitive world many challenges are being faced by e-commerce Businesses now I would like to most common challenges faced by e-commerce. so, for that I would like to consider amazon as an example because Amazon is a major competitor to everyone.
Finding the right product to sell: Shopping cart platforms has no barriers for entry. Anyone can launch an online store within days and start selling all sorts of products, but every e-commerce site is not as successful as amazon because amazon is worldwide e-commerce network and it has massive range of production many choices, many options wide range of varieties and satisfies all the customer needs.
Attracting the perfect customer: customers are very smart while shopping online they use amazon to search and compare the market prices and take recommendation on social media. They read the product reviews while in store they use different modes of payments. The way the customer communicate e-commerce is totally different. It’s the responsibility of the retailer to figure out the customer and how to attract them without damaging their marketing budget.
Generating targeted traffic: nowadays many digital are in to the market retailers can no longer depend only on one type of channel for their store. They must effectively go into the customers with their offers through e-mails, social media, display adds, shopping engines every channel where the customer is paying attention.
Choosing the right technology and partners: Many of the online retailers are facing challenges in growth. There are 2 main reasons:
Limiting to technology: retailers who are trying to achieve growth they should have a good technology, like they should have the right shopping cart solutions, inventor’s management software, analytics and much more.
Wrong selection of parameters/to help them manage their products: Wrong partners or agencies to help you implement progress or overseas marketing will limit the growth. One must be very careful while choosing whom to work with.
Providing the right gate ways of payments: Nowadays there are many numbers of gateways for making on online transactions. Most of the e-commerce retailers look at the payment gateways as an evil because of their high processing costs. But customers prefer to use different types of payments depending on their cards, they tend to choose the easiest and fastest payment method. Some of the payment gateways leading in the market are Sofort-Banking, PayPal, Pay simple, Securepay.com, fastcharge.com etc.
5 Transparencies given by E-Commerce (Ana Batista Silva)
It is unquestionable that more and more companies have to be transparent with their consumers when it comes to e-commercance. The fact that there is no fiscal store and one has to trust their bank account information, the quality of the product and the hope of receiving what is promised all on a single click. Specially now with a vast number os scammers and frauds, which can be extremely challenging.
The B2B News Network states it can be driven by three factors. Throughout the supply chain – from manufacturer to distributor to retailer to end consumer – the connections between each party are increasingly remote. At a time when ingredients, manufacturers and end consumers may each be in a different continent, maintaining control and visibility throughout the entire network — or e-commerce transparency is more important now than ever before.
There is growing market pressure in favor of transparency. Businesses that convey honesty and openness attract more customers, distributors and retailers favor brands with great reputations, and manufacturers want to establish stable and ethical supply chains. But in eCommerce, visibility throughout the B2B2C network is not just about market desirability, it’s about controlling the lifecycle of a product from manufacture to end consumer and every step in between.
Regardless of the motivation, transparency across the entire e-commerce supply chain has become a key component of corporate integrity, loyalty and sustainability. By investing in a transparent product lifecycle, businesses can improve their strategies in response to market forces, adapt to new regulatory or environmental conditions, optimize pricing and fulfillment in real-time, and inspire confidence in consumers.
Transparency in e-commerce is not a passing fad – it’s being driven by all sides, from consumer demand to business partnerships to regulatory requirements. When companies are open with both stakeholders and consumers, they invest in integrity, loyalty and sustainability, building trust while also maintaining tight control over the product lifecycle from manufacture to end consumers.
There are many benefits for an e-commerance consumer, among them are the flexibility of when the shopper can search for products, considering most stores function commercial hours. As mentioned before it can be more sustainable and without have to use an individual transportation, pay or look for parking space. Which consequently will save time and money. Buying from the comfort of ones home and being able to shop with privacy. However, maintaining the consumers buying experience positive is unquestionably challenging.
5.1.1 How Transparency improves the Buying Experience
According to the Industrial Distribution in conjunction with Amazon Business there are paths to maintain this experience positive. Like all customers, B2B e-commerce buyers want the shortest path from A to B. When looking for a product, today’s buyer expects to go online and find a price. But they don’t expect to have to hunt for it, fill out a form or pick up the phone. Distributors are tasked with meeting this customer preference. Platforms such as Amazon Business could offer B2B suppliers the ability to translate the trusted Amazon experience to their operations. Green said that Amazon Business marketplace customers save time by “being able to easily find the price of the items they’re looking for.” “Consumer expectations migrating to the workplace is the process that has put us in the position we’re in today with Amazon Business,” Green said. Amazon Business also provides analytics capabilities and customized templates to help track customer spending, a major draw for purchasing and procurement managers. Green said that enhanced transaction data allows buyers to receive more detailed data and more easily reconcile purchases. He noted that many still enter purchasing data manually. Amazon Business also offers the ability to integrate with leading procurement systems and generate increased speed, visibility and accuracy of expense recording. “Spend analysis and reconciliation is a big deal to our customers,” Green said.
5.2 Taking Advantage of Re-Buys
An online shopping platform that has worked its way through building the trust of the consumer could receive information that would be helpful for both sides. Knowing what a consumer prefers would help the algorithms show a better choice of what should be offered. Receiving better offers in your specific interest within your preferences will allow one to make a wiser choice of how to spend and shop online. Having a client purchase a product once is a great step to reaching the success of faithful consumer. If one has a good experience and decides to re-buy it shows trust and satisfaction, guaranteeing that one will return and most probably recommend the platform to other user, as well as giving positive feedbacks.
According to the Industrial Distribution in conjunction with Amazon Business most B2B distributor sales involve companies repeatedly purchasing the same products to replenish their inventory. Transparency helps those customers improve their spending management. Green noted that even those transactions seek “the best prices on the right product with fast delivery.” “The transparency of the marketplace model empowers customers to check all of those boxes, whether they’re discovering a new item, stocking up on old favorites, or looking for new suppliers with a specific set of credentials,” Green said. Customers that want to buy a larger amount of products at a lower price, meanwhile, would have the ability to request discounts—a value-added way for customers to save more money on larger purchases that businesses are more likely to make. Green added that sellers should provide timely and forthcoming information on order fulfillment, returns and customer support. Amazon Business also provides distributors with the ability to tell more of their story to potential customers. After customers asked to learn more about the sellers on Amazon’s B2B marketplace, Green said that Amazon offered sellers the opportunity to add their company’s logo and history, along with additional profiles, credentials and certifications for SBA, veteran, women or minority ownership.
5.3 Relation on Cost and Transparency
E-commerce affects commercial competition in a number of ways. Falling search costs and increased market transparency through price comparisons cause price competition to intensify; the geographical market for transactions is expanded, and distribution costs fall as a result of the possibility of direct trade between manufacturers and consumers, as well as the larger range of products offered by online dealers. However, new information asymmetries may occurbecause of the lack of a facility for consumers to test products before buying, albeit this can be remedied by review and recommendation systems on the internet or return arrangements. The possibility to enter the market varies from one market segment to the next. While trading platforms in particular make it easier for online dealers to enter the market, they themselves can achieve significant market positions due to strong indirect network effects. Ultimately, therefore,the development of e-commerce may not only increase competition in trade but can in fact trigger new competition problems.
Trading platforms or online market places are two-sided or multi-sided platforms where online dealers (sellers) and consumers (customers) connect, thus making it possible to match supply and demand. They offer a large number of advantages for consumers, such as greater market transparency, a broader selection of products, overcoming confidence problems when shopping on the internet, a reduction of switching costs, as well as the ability to engage in cross border transactions. On the dealers’ side, small dealers in particular benefit from lowered barriers to market entry, as well as from the ability to reach large groups of customers. Besides functioning as intermediaries, some trading platforms take over payment processing for online dealers and offer other services such as shipping.
According to the Monopolikomission in Germany conflicts of interest between operators and users of social networks can arise with regard to the use of personal data if user data is evaluated for advertising purposes. Thus, the standard terms and conditions of many services frequently provide for far-reaching user consent to the processing, and not infrequently also to the commercial exploitation of the data which users make available to the respective providers when utilizing the service. Such conduct is encouraged if the minimum statutory requirements as to transparency on the market are inadequately implemented. These are the following minimum requirements in particular:
the principle of transparency under civil law (section 307(1)(2) of the German Civil Code Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB): Standard terms and conditions must be worded in such a way that the rights and obligations ofthe user’s contracting partner (average addressee) are presented as clearly, simply and precisely as possible.212 Theeconomic disadvantages of a regulation must also be made so clear for the opposing side as can be expected giventhe respective circumstances.213
the stipulation relating to the use of utilization data for advertising (section15 (3) of the German Telemedia Actand sections 4 and 14(2) No. 2 of the German Federal Data Protection Act): If there is no statutory basis, the utilization and commercialization of personal data are only permissible as a matter of principle if the data subject hasconsented. The drawing up of utilization profiles for the purposes of advertising, market research or forming according to the need is only permissible if the user has been informed of his/her right to object and has not objected.
the prohibition of unfair competition by misleading acts (sections 5(1) and 5a(2) of the German Act Against Unfair Competition Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb – UWG): Accordingly, providers of internet servicesmay not carry out any commercial acts containing misleading information on major components of the service or ofthe price or withhold important information from consumers.
The law itself is likely to contribute towards a worsening of the transparency situation for users. This is caused by the fact that a large amount of information must be provided regardless of whether the consumer currently needs and can process it, or at least is provided to minimize individual liability risks. This makes it particularly difficult for consumers to estimate what consent they have given by consenting to the standard terms and conditions and what the scope of this consent is. Thus, according to a recent study, almost 75 percent of users stated that such terms were frequently too long and complicated to be understood at all.215 Accordingly, a large proportion of users also do not read these standard terms and conditions, or at most only skim through them. Moreover, almost two thirds of respondents stated that, in their opinion, it was impossible to verify whether the standard terms and conditions were complied with.
The lack of compliance with minimum legal requirements as to the design of the collection and use of user data can lead to situations in which operators of social networks (1) force through decisions with regard to users without their knowingly consenting (e.g. forced acceptance of particularly far-reaching data access), (2) restrict users’ scope for decision-making by shaping the conditions of use, or by technical means (e.g. by making it difficult to delete profiles, ruling out data portability), or (3) collect more commercialisable user data than would be economically justified given the quality of the service (= the service provided in return). In this regard, a comparison suggests itself with cases in which purchasers must accept an excessive price or overly long contractual term.
6 Regulation in e-commerce – policy instruments to regulate dominant platforms (Celina Mittelsten Scheid)
There are multiple policy instruments regulating dominant platforms on national levels as well as for the entire European union. A few of those will be described in the following paragraphs.
6.1 National regulations
There are national legal systems regarding e-commerce in many European countries, excluding the 11 Member States of the European Union (EU) that signed a paper not to individually regulate platforms in 2016. Most of the countries that did not sign the paper, especially France, Italy and Germany, have been working on policy instruments that apply only in their countries.
In France, work on a new normative environment for online platforms began in December 2015 with a proposal for a Digital Republic Act called ‘Loi pour la République numérique’. The ‘Digital Republic Act’, that was adopted in October 2016, sets out a wide definition of online platform operators. It requires that the platform informs consumers about its status and the platform’s ranking system, as well as the parties’ rights and obligations. Furthermore, it explores where and how the platform allows consumers to conclude contracts with professionals and non-professionals.
In Italy, the proposal “Proposta di legge No. 3564: Disciplina delle piattaforme digitali per la condivisione di beni e servizi e disposizioni per la promozione dell’economia della condivisione”, which was introduced into Parliament on 27 January 2016, aims at increasing the regulatory powers of the ‘Autorità garante della concorrenza e del mercato’ to regulate and supervise sharing economy platforms. The intended purpose of the proposal includes increasing transparency, fiscal equity, fair competition and consumer protection. The proposal stipulates, that the platform has a duty to provide a document that sets out the general contract terms and conditions and establishes a list of compulsory terms for online platforms. That includes best price clauses, exclusion of access to the platform without legitimate reasons, a prohibition on negative comments and a duty to have the explicit agreement of users to pass on personal data to third parties.
In Germany, the Monopolkommission has submitted a discretionary ‘Special Report on competition on the digital markets’ to the German Federal Government and Legislature in June 2015. The Report is entitled: ‘Competition Policy: The Challenge of Digital Markets’. It contains an in-depth analysis of the market structure in selected digital markets from a competition-economic as well as a competition law perspective. The commission addressed questions of competition, data and consumer protection in the digital economy. The Monopolkommission advocates strengthening copyrights, data protection, and consumer rights on the national as well as the EU level, in order to increase the enforceability of the individual rights of both content providers and users.
6.2 Regulations of the European Union
6.2.1 Competition Law
One of the most influential Regulation in E-commerce in Europe is the competition law. It can be divided into the general antitrust rules, the merger control rules and rules on state aid and liberalization. These rules are applicable to companies carrying on business in Europe or whose business may have effects in Europe. It includes rules to ensure that competition within the EU is not restricted or distorted by cartels or anti-competitive agreements, abuses of market power, certain mergers and acquisitions or unfair State aid.
European competition law today is found in articles 101 to 109 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in a series of regulations and directives. These rules are legally binding throughout the European Economic Area (EEA). The primary authority for applying competition law rests with the European Commission and its Directorate General for Competition. State aids in some sectors, however, are handled by other Directorates. The national competition authorities (NCAs) apply the European competition rules, as well as national competition rules.
Antitrust rules of the European Union are set out in Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU. Article 101 prohibits any agreement or concerned practice – formal or informal, written or unwritten – that is made between two or more independent businesses that may affect trade between Member States and that has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition. It catches secret price-fixing or market-sharing cartels as well as other agreements between businesses that have the object or effect of restricting competition.
Article 102 makes it illegal for dominant companies to abuse their market power in a way that may affect trade between Member States. These special rules on unilateral market behavior and conduct only apply to businesses enjoying a dominant position on a relevant market.
Agreements covered by Article 101 or 102 are prohibited and expose the parties to third party actions for damages in national courts within the EAA. In addition, the European Commission and NCAs can investigate and they may impose substantial fines for serious breaches (of up to 10% of worldwide group turnover).
The EU Merger Regulation complements Articles 101 and 102 by allowing the European Commission to control “concentrations”, such as mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, involving companies operating in Europe. If the parties meet certain worldwide or EU-wide thresholds they must notify the deal to the Commission and answer a detailed questionnaire (Form CO). The rules also provide for the possibility of parties benefitting from this “one-stop-shop” principle in cases where the deal would otherwise be notifiable in at least three of the 28 Member States.
In addition, they can prevent Member States from distorting competition through the grant of State aid. Furthermore, special rules are applicable to State monopolies that seek to encourage the liberalization of markets within the EU. Where a merger is not subject to notification under the Merger Regulation, national merger control regimes may instead be applicable at the Member State level.
6.2.2 General Data Protection Regulation
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation that protects the privacy of individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area (EAA). It combines several existing laws and regulations to harmonize rulings across the European Union.
The principal issues of GDPR concern the privacy rights of users and the data they create online. It affects businesses of all sizes due to their effect on how companies gather, store, and handle their data. Under GDPR, companies need to give notice when collecting the personal data of their customers. Consent needs to be explicitly given, and companies have to detail the exact purpose for which customers’ data will be used. Personal data needs to be encrypted by default, meaning that it can’t be linked to a specific person without being accompanied by extra information. Personal data is defined by anything that could be used to directly or indirectly identify a person online. It includes names, email addresses, images, bank details, posts on social networking websites, location tracking, medical information, or even a computer IP address.
Users have the right to know what data a company or organization holds and how it is used, and have the right to request that any of this information be deleted if they feel their rights to privacy are being infringed.
Companies that suffer data breaches, for example as part of a cyber-attack, need to disclose this event to the relevant authorities within 72 hours of it happening. However, they are not required to notify users unless instructed by the authorities.
The GDPR also addresses personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data.
6.2.3 Proposal for Transparency
On 26 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a Proposal for a ‘Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services’. In short, the proposal seeks to regulate the relation between platforms and businesses by imposing a number of transparency obligations.
These Regulations can be broken down in six categories:
Terms and conditions (T&Cs) must be clear, unambiguous and easily available. When the platform changes its T&Cs, it must notify its business users and respect a notice period of at least 15 days. This last obligation appears particularly welcome for app developers, who are given time to adapt their apps to changing T&Cs.
In its T&Cs, the platform must set out the grounds for decisions to suspend or terminate the provision of its intermediation service to business users. When the platform does suspend or terminate its services, it must provide specific reasons for doing so, including a reference to the applicable objective ground. This obligation may, for example, temper the tendency of app stores to remove apps that compete with the app store provider’s own offering.
Platforms must set out in their T&Cs the main parameters. Given that search engines lack a contractual relationship with the websites they rank, they must make their parameters publicly available. It must be clear to what extent and how any remuneration can influence the ranking.
Many platforms are vertically integrated, meaning they do not only provide the intermediation service, but also offer goods or services in competition with their business users. If the platforms’ own products are given differentiated treatment, it must be included in the T&Cs.
Any differentiated treatment relating to access to data by the platform and the business users must be specified. More generally, the T&Cs must indicate to what extent each party has access to the data generated through interactions on the platform. These obligations may be targeted at platforms such as Amazon, which appears to use the vast amounts of sales data generated by suppliers to determine which products it should start producing itself. This is a practice the Commission already flagged in its E-commerce Sector Inquiry.
Where platforms make use of most favored nation (MFN) clauses, that prohibit suppliers from offering their goods or services at more favorable conditions elsewhere, they must set out the main economic, commercial or legal considerations for doing so. This obligation does not affect the legality of MFNs, which means that competition authorities and national legislators can continue to treat these clauses differently across the EU.
In addition to these transparency obligations, the proposal offers suppliers effective compensation when harmful practices arise by making platforms responsible for instituting dispute resolution mechanisms. They must provide for an effective internal system for handling complaints by business users. However, this obligation, has exceptions and does not apply to small enterprises. Yet every platform, without exception, must identify one or more mediators with which they are willing to engage to settle disputes in its T&Cs. Finally, representative organizations and public bodies are given the right to bring actions when platforms or search engines do not comply with the Regulation.
In conclusion, there are already a few regulations in place on national levels as well as in the entire European Union. The opinions of countries on whether or not to regulate platforms differ greatly. The European Union already has fixed regulations and is working on more proposals for policy instruments in e-commerce. However, there are still many unregulated areas and many proposals that urgently need to be worked on, especially considering how fast the digital world is evolving.
7 Conclusion – Will product prices increase by introducing stricter law regulations for E-Commerce monopolists like Amazon? (Ana Batista Silva)
The laws set to organization can and will influence the product prices. Considering that pricing is based on cost we can say that more administrative expenses will impact on the final value of the product. There are several factors that can contribute:
Bureaucracy can not only make the process more complicated it can impact on the administrative cost. Including a stricter regulation will consequently lead to editing contracts, reconstruction of acceptance of terms and conditions, adapting the paper work in order to follow the laws.
As well as restructuring the work flow of the entire process so that the company will not break any laws leading to legal consequences. This means there will be a more employees and steps to the process.
When applying a new law there will be a period of adaption which can be open for errors and mistakes, consequently to legal actions.
Pricing products is based on cost of fabrication, material, labor and taxes. If the new laws applied have an intention to protect local markets, for example, which do not have the same route to negotiate the quantity of raw material or products,
There could be an increase of taxes on monopolist companies especially when it comes to international laws.
More bureaucracy means that there will need more time and if the company needs to maintain the delivery period it will require more labor which can also increase on the pricing.
Companies like Amazon need to have a growing or at least a stabled EBITIDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, Amortization) due to investors. This means it must maintain reasonable revenue and if the cost of the process and product increases for production or distribution this will consequently be included in the final product.
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