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Business  27, Feb 2014

Online-offline war: Indian brands declare e-commerce sites “unauthorised”

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Following Nikon, Toshiba and Lenovo’s advisories, now Canon India too has joined the fight against e-commerce websites who allegedly undercut prices

In an interesting turn of events, Canon India has declared Indian online marketplaces Flipkart and Amazon as its authorised dealers. E-commerce websites in India lately have been in line of fire after consumer durable brands Nikon, Lenovo and Toshiba came out with individual advisories, warning consumers that many online websites were not its authorised sellers.

In contrast to Canon India, Lenovo has a notice on its website that declares Flipkart and Amazon, alongwith Snapdeal as unauthorised sellers. “E-commerce websites like Snapdeal, Flipkart and amazon.in are not authorized Lenovo resellers.
We encourage you to check your warranty entitlements when you buy from these websites,” reads the notice.

Screenshot from lenovo.co.in

“Our observation is that these may not be authorised resellers. Keeping our end-customer’s interest in mind, we have accordingly issued an advisory,” Shailendra Katyal, Director, Consumer Business, Lenovo India, was quoted as saying by different media channels in India, stressing that a number of online stores were selling the company’s products at a heavily discounted price.

In a similar fashion, Toshiba India too had come up with an advisory. It though, refrained from naming any websites:

The “Important Notice” read:

Toshiba India has observed that many e-commerce websites are selling “TOSHIBA” branded Television and Laptop (Products). Toshiba India does not have any direct agreements / arrangements with these e-commerce websites and they are not authorised by Toshiba India to represent about the quality or fitness of any “TOSHIBA” branded Products.

The Toshiba notice also stressed that

These e-commerce websites may not pass on the sales promotional schemes, which are available on the Products only when they are purchased through Toshiba India authorised dealer network, from time to time.

We are further informing our esteemed customers to enquire with Toshiba India regarding the availability of after sales services before they purchase any Product from these e-commerce websites. Please enquire from our Call Centre at 18002008674 to avoid any inconvenience in availing any after sale services on the Product,” the notice read.

The trend started as early as March last year,when anti-virus software firm, Quick Heal served a notice to five e-tailers — eBay.in, Tradus.in, Shopcruz.in, Snapdeal.co.in and Flipkart.com for alleged unauthorised sale of its products. Except for Flipkart, the other four e-tailers accepted Quick Heal‘s contention as valid and stopped selling its products. Flipkart too had to discontinue the sale of Quick Heal products following the directions from a Pune court (in the state of Maharashtra in India).

The second case came up later in September, when camera major, Nikon India issued an advisory on its website, naming Flipkart and Snapdeal as “not” its authorised partners.

Click on image to directly open Nikon Advisory page

The move has been credited to initiatives taken by large brands to rectify the increasing tilt towards online websites. The websites usually offer heavy discounts on electronic gadgets to create an edge in the extensive competition. Later, in January this year, Indian IT hardware industry body Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) had convened a general meeting to discuss the issue of online retail and undercutting prices.

Throwing more light on the discontent among offline retailers, Praveen Khandelwal, General Secretary, Confederation of All India Traders, was quoted as saying by Indian business newspaper, Business Standard, “The dynamics of their procurement are not clear and they are selling at much lower prices than offline retailers. If they are not directly procuring from the company, where do the products come from?” He felt that e-commerce was eating into brick-and mortar retail’s pie. and added that the issue had been raised with the government.

The same report also quoted an Amazon India spokesperson’s rebuttal, stating, “As a neutral marketplace, we do not determine prices. Sellers are also contractually obligated to list genuine products with manufacturer warranty.”

Besides, Flipkart and Snapdeal too had issued statements stating that the products sold on their platforms were genuine. “Since these were sold by authorised dealers on their portals, these were eligible for warranty, too.

Canon’s advisory today may come as a relief to imagestore.co.in, Flipkart, ebay.in and amazon.in. That also means that any other website besides the mentioned ones are not authorised sellers of Canon products.”

Click on image to directly open Canon India’s advisory page

According to a report by The Times of India, Canon has announced that it may offer longer warranty on offline buying. Canon is planning to offer 12 months warranty on online purchase and 15 months warranty on offline purchase.

Online marketplaces eating up on offline sales has been a major problem from quite some time now, however brands are now seen taking special efforts to maintain the balance.

Featured Image Courtesy: ducu59us /Shutterstock

Saloni Surti

Saloni Surti

A writer by heart, Saloni loves pouring words about anything and everything under this sky. Short stories and philosophy writing come to her naturally.

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