This growth is visible through the millions of products that get bought and sold across the country every day. Data released by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, shows that as shoppers rapidly migrate to online platforms, there has been an increase in consumer disputes about e-commerce. In the last four years, nearly 22% of all consumer grievances in India were related to the e-commerce sector.
While consumer grievances are handled expeditiously by most e-commerce platforms, a small proportion of residual cases may remain intractable. Some of these cases head towards India’s courts, where they can take years as they wind their way through the judicial system.
Snapdeal believes that in a progressive online ecosystem, the process of resolving any outstanding disputes should be as simple and as fast as the process of making an online purchase.
The Snapdeal way
Using the pandemic-related disruption as the trigger, Snapdeal has started using “Online Dispute Resolution" (ODR) - to make resolutions tech-enabled, easy, and fast.
To enable this, Snapdeal roped in Sama, an online dispute resolution (ODR) specialist, who resolves disputes faster and more cost-efficiently with the help of technology and a network of highly skilled professionals.
As part of this initiative, Snapdeal launched a pilot project with Sama Suljhao Manch, to resolve pending consumer disputes. The results of the pilot highlight the role that technology and processes can play in reducing delays and facilitating win-win outcomes for all stakeholders.
Nearly 240 cases, where consumers expressed their interest in exploring a reconciliation process, were covered under the project. Of these, a comprehensive dispute resolution was achieved in nearly 130 cases, thus achieving a 54% success rate. Cases that usually take up to three years to resolve, were settled by the Sama Suljhao Manch within 15 days!
The ODR process brought both sides to the negotiation table through an online mediation services platform with the help of an expert neutral conciliator. Empowered with reconciliatory powers under the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the conciliator persuaded concerned parties to arrive at mutually agreeable terms that are legally binding to both parties. This way, Sama succeeded in resolving several consumer disputes amicably and quickly.
Besides accelerating the settlement process, the exercise also delivered an additional benefit to Snapdeal in terms of building stronger relationships with its users. According to Snapdeal’s General Counsel, Smriti Subramanian, “Snapdeal’s users appreciate our proactive approach in resolving matters. They also recognise that our approach to the issues is not adversarial but is in fact both collaborative and adaptive. As a responsible e-commerce player with strong social and governance policies, placing the user first has always been Snapdeal’s endeavour."
ODR is the way forward