Monday 23 March 2020

No timeline fixed for release of e-commerce policy: Piyush Goyal

No timeline fixed for release of e-commerce policy: Piyush GoyalNEW DELHI: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said that no timeline has been fixed to release the national e-commerce policy as e-commerce is a new subject.

“Since e-Commerce is a new issue, it has necessitated detailed consultations over the last few months to ensure that the policy is crafted in a manner that interests of all stakeholders are taken in to account. Therefore, no timeline has been fixed for release of the same,” Goyal told Lok Sabha in a written reply.

He said the draft National e-commerce policy seeks to create a facilitative regulatory environment for growth of e-commerce sector. It is aimed at empowering domestic entrepreneurs and to encourage Make in India while safeguarding interests of the consumers and facilitating job creation.

On February 23, 2019, the first draft of the National e-Commerce policy was placed in public domain for suggestions. Comments from over 120 stakeholders- companies both Indian and foreign, industry associations, think tanks, foreign governments were received. Post this, a series of meetings have been held with different stakeholders, including major e-commerce companies, start-ups, industry associations, think-tanks, academicians, data centre providers, logistics companies, export promotion councils to discuss the issues facing the sector and the provisions contained in the draft policy.

Goyal also informed the Lower House that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which seeks to specify the flow and usage of personal data, defines sensitive data and aims to create a framework for organisational and technical measures in processing of data, laying down norms for cross-border transfer and accountability of entities processing personal data.

“The formulation of the National e-Commerce policy and the new Industrial Policy is under consideration of the government,” he said.

The proposed new industrial policy seeks to boost competitiveness and growth of the manufacturing sector in India. A working group has been constituted with representation from the Centre, states and industry associations. Inter-ministerial consultation is currently going on for framing the new Industrial Policy.

In a separate reply, Goyal said that 362 Indian products have been registered as Geographical Indicators as on March 10, 2020.

Walmart, Walmart Foundation commits $25 mn to global coronavirus response effort

Walmart, Walmart Foundation commits $25 mn to global coronavirus response effortNew Delhi: To help meet the critical needs resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to support organizations on the front lines responding to the outbreak, the company said.

“In times of need, we see communities come together to do extraordinary things. This pandemic is no different,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president, and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation.

“We are humbled by the efforts of our store associates, nonprofit partners, and citizens across the globe who are coming together to support those in need. We hope these grants will help to expand critical response efforts as we continue to work together to address the impact of COVID-19.”

According to the company, the funds will be used to strengthen the global public health response, bolster food security, and support the needs of local communities in the U.S. and internationally.

The commitment is intended to provide $5 million to support global efforts to help countries prevent, detect and manage the coronavirus; $10 million to support food banks, school meal programs, and organizations that provide access to food for underserved populations; and $10 million to support efforts in local communities in the United States and international markets.

The first grants are expected to be issued this week, the company said.

China's to buy back $2 bln shares

China's to buy back $2 bln sharesChina's Inc said on Tuesday it would buy back up to $2 billion of its shares, after the e-commerce company estimated a growth in sales in the current quarter that has been ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak.

JD said it expects to fund the buyback, to take place over the next 24 months, with existing cash.

Last week, SoftBank Group Corp said it was repurchasing up to $4.8 billion of its shares after their recent slump.

Shares of JD were up nearly 6% in premarket trading.

The company's announcement comes at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused economic damage and disrupted supply chains.

Despite the virus outbreak,, earlier this month, forecast revenue to rise by at least 10% in the first quarter as consumers stuck at home turned online for most of their shopping needs.

JD had earlier announced buybacks of $1 billion each in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

Saturday 21 March 2020

Amazon stops receiving non-essential products from sellers amid coronavirus outbreak

Amazon stops receiving non-essential products from sellers amid coronavirus outbreakNEW YORK: Inc is suspending sellers from sending non-essential products to its US and UK warehouses until April 5 in the latest move to free up inventory space for much-needed supplies that are in shortage as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a note sent to sellers on Tuesday, Amazon said it is seeing increasing online shopping demand from consumers. As its household staples and medical supplies are running out of stock, it will prioritize certain categories in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”

Amazon defined five categories as essential products that can continue shipping, including Baby Product, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific, Pet Supplies.

The move follows Amazon’s announcement it will hire 100,000 workers for its warehouses on Monday, as the Seattle-based giant is trying to meet growing online shopping need from people who stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Third-party sellers account for over half of the sales on Amazon. Amazon has been courting sellers to use its own fulfillment system, enabling many of them with faster delivery without the risks of sitting on inventories.

It is especially popular for sellers who use a dropping shipping method, meaning sellers import products from manufacturers in countries including China and directly send them to an Amazon warehouse. Amazon earns fees from managing the storage and delivery process.

Sellers supplying products that are deemed non-essential could see their products run out of stock and they will be unable to restock as a result of the measure. Still, they can use other fulfillment methods to directly mail products to customers.

Amazon did not immediately reply to request for comment.

Govt to bring amendments to Competition law for greater regulation of etailers: FM

Govt to bring amendments to Competition law for greater regulation of etailers: FMNew Delhi : The Centre on Tuesday said that it has proposed certain amendments to the Competition law for greater regulation of e-commerce platforms and ensure that presence of etailers has no severe impact on local jobs.

Responding to a series of queries on this issue during the Question Hour, Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Rajya Sabha that the cabinet has already looked into the amendments.

"The Competition Act Regulation Amendments will now bring in greater regulation....The cabinet has looked into it. Thisis one of the ways we are trying to regulate (e-commerce platforms)," she said in the Upper House. The amendments to the law have been proposed as per the recommendation of the Competition Law Reviewing Committee,under the chairmanship of Corporate Affairs Ministry, she said. On job loss, the Minister said such kind of impacts have been assessed by the committee and "action is being taken through various amendments suggested to the Act so that impact is not as serious." Prior to setting up of the committee, Sitharaman said anti-trust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) had made efforts to promote self-regulation through advocacy from January this year after looking into a complaint it had received in April last year.

However, a court order from Karnataka stopped the CCI from taking further steps on self-regulation, she said. In its report on the complaint, the CCI had identified several practices which were not true to the ideals of free and fair market practices, she added.

Friday 20 March 2020

Jeff Bezos helping White House fight coronavirus: Trump

Jeff Bezos helping White House fight coronavirus: TrumpWashington : Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is in touch with the White House offering assistance to combat the growing new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is spreading across the US, President Donald Trump has said.

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post which is a staunch critic of Trump and his policies, was not part of top CEOs like from Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and Costco who met Trump last week to discuss their roles in helping fight the crisis.

Trump on Monday said White House officials are in touch with Bezos, reports TechCrunch.

"I've heard that is true but I don't know that for a fact, some of my people, as I understand it, have been dealing with them or with him and that is nice," said Trump during the White House coronavirus briefing.

"We have had tremendous support from a lot of people that can help and I believe he was one of them," he added.

It is not clear in what capacity Bezos is working with the White House on tackling the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 81 people in the US.

Amazon's Cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) lost the prestigious $10 billion Pentagon Cloud project last year to Microsoft because Trump called the publication "Amazon Washington Post" and has repeatedly criticised it for his and his party's coverage.

Amazon later alleged in its complaint -- filed against the US government's decision to award Pentagon Cloud project to the "less competitive" Microsoft -- that Trump abused his position to put "improper pressure" on decision-makers for personal gains and show his hatred towards Bezos who owns The Washington Post.

"The stakes are high. The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends," said the company.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is finally seeking court permission to reconsider certain aspects of its decision to award the Cloud contract to Microsoft.

A US judge last month granted Amazon's request to temporarily halt the project.

Amazon to hire 100,000 workers as online orders surge on coronavirus worries

Amazon to hire 100,000 workers as online orders surge on coronavirus Inc on Monday said it would hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to deal with a surge in online orders, as many consumers have turned to the web to meet their needs during the coronavirus outbreak.

With shoppers clearing out shelves in fear of quarantines or product shortages, retailers are racing to keep food and hygienic items in stock and have employees on hand for in-store work or delivery.

Like Amazon, U.S. supermarket chains Albertsons, Kroger and Raley's have sought new hires to staff busy sections and fulfill online orders. They are turning to people in the restaurant, travel and entertainment businesses who are suddenly looking for work because of the coronavirus.

"We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back," Amazon said in a blog post.

Major shipper United Parcel Service Inc said its trucking and air deliveries were still on despite growing government restrictions on commercial activities, but it did not provide details Monday on whether it would hire more workers because of new delivery demand.

The coronavirus, which has led to more than 7,100 deaths globally and prompted mass lockdowns of people, has also led to items being out of stock on Amazon and some deliveries taking longer than usual.

Amazon's headcount fluctuates seasonally, recently peaking for the holiday quarter at 798,000 full and part-time workers. It was not immediately clear how many people Amazon would employ after it hires 100,000 more.

To draw new employees, Amazon said it would add $2 to its minimum $15 per hour to U.S. workers' wages through April. The extra pay for hourly employees in North America and Europe is expected to cost more than $350 million, Amazon said.

Meanwhile, other retailers facing long queues are making pitches for talent, too.

It was not clear if there would be any impact on delivery operations from new government restrictions. In the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday, officials said people must stay at home except for some essential purposes, such as work for "businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences."

An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on the San Francisco order.