From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Fake and deceptive reviews on E-commerce platforms
The Centre is bringing out a standard for publishing product reviews for e-commerce platforms this week.
What are the reviews on e-com platforms?
- Reviews are the ratings given by customers who make any purchase on the e-commerce platform.
- This is generally a star-rating system followed by user comments.
- It is particularly a social proof given by people who make judgments and decisions based on the collective actions of others.
Why do e-coms take such reviews?
- Reviews are much more than just comments and can result in relevant content and information, both for you and your customers.
- Since the biggest disadvantage of e-commerce is not offering the possibility for consumers to be face to face with the product, reviews can break this barrier.
- Reviews can help sell more, gain new customers, accompany the consumer’s satisfaction, and target better.
Why reviews matter?
- Ensure a good purchasing experience;
- Create surveys and debates on products and/or services;
- Provide a field for comments and instigate interaction;
- Know how to deal with complaints and try to resolve them.
Why discuss this?
- Consumer grievances ignored: More than one in two (58 per cent) consumers complain that their negative product ratings and reviews are not being published by e-commerce platforms.
- Positive bias: Only 23 per cent consumers said that their negative reviews or ratings on e-commerce sites were published as it is.
- Fake and deceptive reviews: Wasteful products are highly publicised with fake reviews and praises.
What are the standards set out by the govt.?
The framework for the standard was prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). It is titled IS 19000:2022. The outlines are-
- Guiding principle: The guiding principles of the standard are integrity, accuracy, privacy, security, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness.
- Voluntary compliance: To start with voluntary, the standard could become mandatory after observing compliance to the standards by such platforms.
- Grievance redressal: Once made mandatory, a consumer may submit grievances to the National Consumer Helpline, Consumer Commissions, or the CCPA, against misleading reviews.
- Punishment: If made mandatory, the violation of the standard, can invite punishment for unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.
- Review authentication: The standard prescribes specific responsibilities for the review author and the review administrator. For the review author, these include confirming acceptance of terms and conditions, providing contact information.
- Consumer data protection: For review administrator, these include safeguarding personal information and training of staff.
- Traceability and genuineness of the review author: The standard also provides for methods for verification of the review author through email address, identification by telephone call or SMS, confirming registration by clicking on a link, using captcha system.
Significance of the standards
- The standard is expected to benefit all stakeholders in the e-commerce ecosystem, that is, consumers, e-commerce platforms, sellers, etc.
- It will help usher in confidence among consumers to purchase goods online and help them take better purchase decisions.