Competition watchdog launches in-depth probe into e-commerce

Competition watchdog launches in-depth probe into e-commerce

Aysel Alp - ANKARA
Competition watchdog launches in-depth probe into e-commerce

Turkey’s Competition Authority has initiated a wide-scale investigation into online commerce platforms in a bid to prevent unfair practices in a rapidly growing economic area.

“Understanding [probable] competitive and anti-competitive effects of e-marketplaces, and creating effective policies based on facts will constitute a significant step in providing a healthy competitive order for the new economy,” said the watchdog’s main body, the Competition Board, in a statement on July 16.

Managements of e-marketplaces, consumers and suppliers selling goods online will be surveyed to achieve in-depth data during the investigation that started on July 11, the board said.

Leading e-commerce platforms operating in Turkey are Amazon, Hepsiburada, Gittigidiyor, N11 and Trendyol. About 70,000 companies continue their e-commerce activities.

“Online shopping trend has increased particularly during the pandemic. E-marketplaces are vital for less-known small businesses in accessing more customers. The competition on the sellers’ side provides product and price variety benefits to consumers. The duty of making these achievements sustainable in the long term falls on us,” Hatice Yavuz, the team leader of the investigation, told daily Hürriyet.

They will specially focus on pricing behaviors of the platform operators and claims of possible exclusionary and exploitative actions by platforms, which are service providers and sellers at the same time, she added.

The volume of e-commerce amounted to 136 billion Turkish Liras (nearly $23.9 billion) in 2019, when the average dollar/lira exchange rate was 5.68, according to the Trade Ministry. Air travel led other categories with 15.3 billion liras, followed by clothing and shoes and home appliances with 13.8 billion liras and 13.3 billion liras, respectively.

Last month, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said that the volume of e-commerce in Turkey posted an increase of 48 percent year-on-year from January through May this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In general, e-commerce in Turkey was already rising even before COVID-19 and has performed a strong growth in the country in recent years. Online retail sales recorded 43 percent of value growth in 2019, compared to the previous year.

Coming to 2020, e-commerce on fast moving consumer goods category grew 57 percent in the pre-COVID-19 period, according to CEO of market research company Nielsen Turkey, Didem Şekerel Erdoğan.

“It tripled to 183 percent in the first eight weeks of the pandemic,” she told Hürriyet Daily News on July 1.

“Actually, COVID-19 is an accelerator for the e-commerce transformation. We see these in personal care, home care, especially in baby food but also for tea and coffee categories,” she said.