5 years since MRP and best before date were made mandatory on ecommerce platforms, 1 in 2 consumers say they can find this information now
- ● 47% consumers surveyed found MRP displayed for all products they purchased on ecommerce sites while 21% found best before date displayed for all human consumption products
- ● Consumers say established platforms and their sellers more compliant than newer ones; Report violations like MRP field not displayed or best before date not displayed by platforms like Tata Cliq, BlinkIt, Lenskart, Meesho, Purplle, Dunzo, Patanjali and others; LocalCircles escalates to Legal Metrology for corrective action
March 01, 2023, New Delhi: Consumers across India in 2016 had escalated the issue of missing MRP and best before dates on eCommerce platforms on LocalCircles. The platform, LocalCircles, conducted a national survey and escalated the same to the Department of Consumer Affairs for corrective action such that display of MRP be made mandatory for packaged products selling on eCommerce platforms and the best before be made mandatory for human consumption packaged products. The consumer ask via LocalCircles was incorporated in the law with the Legal Metrology Division, under Department of Consumer Affairs introducing the the Packaged Commodity Rules (PCR) 2017 effective January 1, 2018 and mandated the display of MRP for all packaged products listed for sale on ecommerce sites and apps operating in India. Similarly, the PCR 2017 amendment mandated the need for ecommerce sites and apps to display MRP and best before dates online for all human consumption packaged products. In both these cases, the objective was to ensure that the consumer is making an informed purchasing decision in regard to price and the shelf life of a product when purchasing via ecommerce as they cannot physically see the product.
LocalCircles, as the original reporter of the issue has been tracking compliance to the PCR 2017 by ecommerce platforms. Via its studies conducted in 2018 and 2021, LocalCircles was able to escalate issues faced by consumers for enforcement by the legal metrology division. In the first study 22% of the consumers were able to find MRPs on all packaged products. This percentage has increased to 35% in 2021. Further, the percentage of consumers saying “they were able to find MRPs on less than 20% of packaged products” decreased from 18% in 2018 to 16% on 2021. Percentage of consumers who were able to find MRPs on 20-50% packaged products decreased from 39% to 33% in the same period.
Five years after the amendment of rules, as complaints from consumers continued, LocalCircles conducted a fresh survey to find out if the display of MRP and best before dates on ecommerce platforms has continued to improve or have things come to a standstill. The survey received over 23,000 responses from consumers located in 307 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
47% indicated that they found MRP displayed on all packaged products on ecommerce platforms, 8% found no MRP displayed on any products they bought from online platforms
The latest survey asked consumers, “Post efforts of LocalCircles in 2017, the government mandated that from January 1, 2018, ecommerce sites/ apps in India must disclose MRPs of all packaged products on their apps/ sites. Please share your first-hand experience in finding this information?” In response, 2 in 5 ecommerce consumers surveyed indicated that they are still unable to find MRP information on packaged products on many ecommerce sites/ apps despite it being legally mandatory. The breakup of data shows that 11% of consumers out of 12,852 respondents were able to find MRP displayed on less than 20% of packaged products; 19% found it on 20%-50% of packaged products, and 47% indicated that they found MRP displayed online for all packaged products. However, 8% did not find MRP displayed for any packaged products; 2% were not sure and 13% admitted that they haven’t looked for MRP specifically when shopping online.
Consumers who indicated that MRP was found displayed online for all packaged products has risen from 22% in 2018, to 35% in 2021 and now to 47% which is an encouraging sign
On the question of whether MRP was being displayed online for the packaged products bought, a comparative data of consumer response for 2018, 2021 and 2023 shows there is improvement in compliance over the years. As against 18% indicating that MRP has been found on less than 20% packaged products, the percentage dropped to 16% in 2021 and 11% in 2023. Similarly, those indicating that 20%-50% products had MRP displayed have dipped from 39% to 33% and now to 19%. At the same time those who indicated that MRP was found on all packaged products they bought online has risen from 22% in 2018, to 35% in 2021 and now to 47% which is an encouraging sign. However, those who claimed that they were not able to find MRP displayed on any of the packaged products they bought from various sites/ apps has dipped from 21% in 2018 to 2% in 2021 but has now risen to 8%. In the category of those who were uncertain, there was no such response in 2018 but in 2021 this category had 3% which has now slipped to 2%. Among those who have not looked for MRP while making purchase of packaged products online in 2021 the percentage was 11 but in 2023 it has risen to 13%.
If the consumer complaints are reviewed, the most common one is that of a platform have a field for price and not that says MRP as outlined in PCR 2017 amendment. Platforms like Blinkit, Meesho, Tata Cliq, Purplle etc. are some of the ones where consumers have reported MRP display non-compliance.
21% consumers found “best before” or expiry date displayed for all human consumption packaged products on ecommerce platforms
On the next question of whether for packaged human consumption products eCommerce platforms were displaying “best before” or expiry date as required under government regulation, 16% out of 10,972 respondents stated that they found it in less than 20% products; 31% of respondents indicated that they found it mentioned on 20%-50% of the products; while 21% found it on all human consumption products. Of all the respondents, 5% shared that they were not able to find the vital information on any of the packaged human consumption products; 20% admitted they had not really looked for this information and 7% were not sure on this subject. In summary, 1 in 2 ecommerce consumers surveyed say that they were unable to find ‘best before date’ information for human consumption packaged products on many of the ecommerce sites/ apps despite it being a legal metrology rule.
Consumers who indicated that best before date was found displayed online for all human consumption packaged products rose from 10% in 2021 to 21% in 2023; Another 31% were able to find the information for 20-50% of the products
A comparative data of “best before” or expiry date found displayed for human consumption packaged products shows while there is some improvement over the last 5 years, some platforms and sellers are still not complying with the regulations in this regard. What is encouraging is that as against 13% in 2018 and 10% in 2021, the percentage of those who were able to find “best before” or expiry date on the packages has risen to 21%. Similarly, those who were not able to find this information online for any products has dipped from 34% in 2018 to 26% in 2021 and now to 5%.
If the consumer complaints are reviewed, the most common ones are that of either the platform not enabling such a field or a platform enabling the best before date field but the sellers not populating it for many items. The other scenario of violation is one where instead of displaying a best before date a fixed time period in months or years is quoted as shelf life in reference to the manufacturing date. The manufacturing date is however, missing. Platforms like Blinkit, Meesho, Dunzo, Patanjali, Lenskart etc. are some of the ones where consumers have reported best before date display non-compliance.
In summary, it is encouraging that ecommerce platforms are increasingly following the law where display of MRP and “best before date” or expiry date information on packaged products for human consumption are concerned. In the survey, those who indicated that MRP was found displayed online for all packaged products they bought has risen from 22% in 2018, to 35% in 2021 and now to 47% which is an encouraging sign. Similarly, it is encouraging that those who were able to find “best before” or expiry date displayed online for packaged human consumption products has risen to 21% as against 13% in 2018 and 10% in 2021. Similarly, those who were not able to find this information online before taking a decision to buy has dipped from 34% in 2018 to 26% in 2021 and now to 5%. Consumer complaints and feedback indicates that established platforms and their sellers are more compliant than newer platforms as they have been at it for 5 years now. Consumers have reported violations by platforms like Tata Cliq, BlinkIt, Lenskart, Meesho, Purplle, Dunzo, Patanjali and others that LocalCircles has escalated to the Legal Metrology Division, Department of Consumer Affairs for corrective action.
The survey received over 23,000 responses from consumers located in 307 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.
LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com
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