The boom of ecommerce has brought a major change in how commercial transactions are carried out today. Ecommerce platforms are blooming and everyone is embracing this approach because of its smart and widespread reach to consumers. The Government does not want to lag behind and in its attempt to catch up with the ongoing trend; is considering going the ecommerce way to sell authentic Geographical Indication (GI) products.
GI registration gives the registered proprietor and its authorized users, the right to the exclusive use of the GI and also the right to obtain relief in case of its infringement. Exclusion of unauthorized persons from misusing GI would ensure that genuine products of the rightful producers are marketed.
People are aware of the famous GI products associated with a particular region. But they are unable to buy the genuine products because of its unavailability. The GI products which are available either have a high chance of not being genuine or being very costly. The producers of these GI products are also unable to reach out to a large number of people.
“The study, conducted by the Centre for WTO Studies at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, is in line with the Foreign Trade Policy for 2015-2020 that identified GI as a key area for policy initiatives within one year”. With the backdrop of Foreign Trade Policy for 2015-2020, the Department of Commerce had also conducted a study for GI. The study suggested “e-commerce as a means to increase the reach of India’s GI products. This initiative will also reduce the involvement of middlemen, thereby making it easier for producers to sell directly through their own portals, with support from the government and tie-ups with other online retailers”.
The study indicated that the after GI registration, the registered proprietors and authorized users do not carry out any post-registration activities for marketing and brand building of their products, which is very essential. The study identified factors such as “lack of producer or artisan database, proper monitoring of quality and compliance and low level of online presence or e-marketing initiatives as reasons for inadequate marketing and branding of these products”.
If the ecommerce initiative is carried out, then one crucial aspect that has to be taken care of is ensuring production of sufficient inventory of the GI products which might be a big challenge considering the limited production capacity and working capital, which the registered proprietors normally have.
Ecommerce seems to be a very efficient way to popularize and bring commercial gains for the GI producers. We have to thus wait and see if the initiative by the Government can bring in the winds of change for GI products.
Authored by Sambhabi Patnaik.