E-commerce platforms will need to voluntarily disclose paid customer reviews of products and services as part of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms that will be implemented from 25 November, the Union government said, states a report from PTI.
Rohit Kumar Singh, the secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, has said that regulations are aimed at protecting consumers from “fake and deceptive reviews”.
The standard, IS 19000:2022, will apply to all organisations that publish consumer reviews online. These will include suppliers of products and services which collect reviews from their customers, third parties contracted by suppliers or independent third parties.
The official says that the government will frame a conformity assessment scheme for the standard within 15 days. E-commerce platforms can apply to the Bureau of Indian Standards for the certification, he adds.
Welcoming the move, brands and online platforms say that they will comply with the government norms on disclosing paid reviews.
Social commerce platform Meesho says that it is committed to delivering great user experience and fostering an environment of trust. “We have built algorithmic models that help assess the veracity of user reviews, ensuring users see genuine reviews. We look forward to working with the government to boost transparency in the e-commerce ecosystem," Meesho spokesperson tells Storyboard18 in a written response to Storyboard18’s query.
Nykaa and Myntra declined to comment. Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer (D2C) firms, which rely heavily on consumer reviews and word-of-mouth, also pledged their full support to curb the menace of fake reviews. Wellbeing Nutrition, a plant-based nutrition D2C company that sells across its own and third-party e-commerce platforms, believes that the government norms will bring the much needed transparency in the online commerce. "It will allow more transparency for consumers in terms of making the right choice with honest customer reviews who’ve experienced the products. This shall definitely be appreciated and enforced by everyone to offer what actually is the best. The winner in this will be the consumer and the product,” says Saurabh Kapoor, co-founder & chief business officer, Wellbeing Nutrition. Evocus, a product by AV Organics, popularly known as black alkaline water is another D2C firm that this regulation will give online shoppers the transparency to shop online with confidence. “We are selling globally in the west and the middle east but we haven’t seen such a wise regulation by any government so far. Our website also has reviews but all of them are verified customer reviews who have either bought from us on our website drinkevocus or amazon. We are in total support of this initiative and proud to be part of the ethical selling practices,” notes Zulkarnain Shaikh, head of digital marketing, Global E-Commerce, and PR, Evocus.