Takealot’s dominance in South Africa investigated — all the companies joining

The Online Intermediation Platforms Market Inquiry (OIPMI) at the Competition Commission has released the schedule of participants for the public hearings to be on 2–19 November 2021.

The Competition Commission announced its inquiry in February, stating that it would encompass companies such as Takealot, Uber Eats, and Airbnb.

It specifically singled out Takealot as an important focus of its investigation because of its share of the local ecommerce sector and the dual role played by the company as an online marketplace and a seller of products.

The Competition Commission raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest when a platform operator offers a marketplace for sellers while also being a merchant itself.

It said that this may provide companies with the incentive to favour themselves and squeeze out competitors.

Takealot is also much bigger than any other online retailer in South Africa, which the Commission stated warrants concern over its potential dominance of the market.

“In ecommerce, Takealot (including Superbalist) is substantially larger than other online platforms and operates a marketplace on which many business users are now dependent as a route to market,” it said.

The Commission stated that the following sectors would be investigated as part of the inquiry:

  • Ecommerce marketplaces
  • Online classifieds
  • Travel and accommodation aggregators
  • Short term accommodation intermediation
  • Food delivery
  • App stores
  • Other platforms identified in the course of the inquiry

Other platforms named explicitly in the document included Airbnb, Mr D Food, Uber Eats, TravelStart, Autotrader, Cars.co.za, Property24, Private Property, the Google Play Store, and the Apple App Store.

It later clarified that the inquiry would not be limited to South African ecommerce businesses and would include international players like Amazon.

UberEATS vs Mr D Food ordering
Uber Eats (left) and Mr D (right)

While most of the slots for its upcoming hearings have been allocated, the Commission said it is still confirming time slots with a few participants and the final schedule will be published on 27 October.

Any online platforms, business users or industry organisations that still wish to participate may approach the Commission prior to this date through email — [email protected]

The public hearings will be virtual and the public can watch the hearings on the Competition Commission’s YouTube channel.

The following companies have confirmed presentation slots during the public hearings:

App stores

  • Huawei
  • Interactive Entertainment South Africa (IESA)
  • App Developer Studio
  • Devon Software
  • Naspers
  • Google and Google Play

Travel accommodation platforms

  • Tripco
  • SA Venues
  • Flightsite
  • Avis
  • Xtreme Car Rental
  • Google search, travel and shopping
  • AKTV
  • Travelstart
  • Expedia

Ecommerce platforms

  • BidorBuy
  • Adeo
  • Red puppy
  • Elite Shopper
  • Makro
  • Takealot
  • Price Check

Delivery platforms

  • Dryver
  • Buzz Delivery
  • Sisters on the Move
  • UberEats
  • Quench
  • Paarl Eats
  • We Dash
  • Restaurant Association of South Africa
  • MrD
  • Famous Brands
  • Bolt Food

Online classifieds

  • MyProperty
  • Private Property
  • 0800Properties
  • Property24
  • Autotrader
  • Carfind
  • Cars.co.za
  • Sandown Motor Holdings
  • eDreams

The Competition Commission said the inquiry completed its first phase of information gathering and the insights from that exercise resulted in the release of a Further Statement of Issues which identified market dynamics and practices that may have the potential to hinder competition or result in the unfair treatment of businesses using the popular online platforms.

Among the issues identified were:

  • The extensive and growing use of sponsored ranking (i.e. payments to appear higher up on consumer search results), and its impact on consumer choice and the discoverability of small or historically disadvantaged businesses on these platforms
  • The rationale for, and impact of, higher commissions and listing fees charged to small restaurants, auto dealers and estate agents relative to larger national chains on food delivery platforms and online classifieds (automotive and property)
  • The necessity for businesses to discount or offer promotions on the platforms in order to get consumer visibility, and the pressure from platforms to do so
  • The fairness of platform terms and conditions, including payment terms, liability for loss and termination on the platform
  • The general lack of platform initiatives to support the transformation of the online economy and the increased involvement by SA businesses on global platforms
  • The rationale for, and impact of, price-parity clauses imposed on businesses (i.e. a requirement to price no less favourably on a platform relative to other platforms & channels) in eCommerce, delivery and travel & accommodation platforms
  • The impact of massive search engine marketing and consumer promotions by leading platforms on the ability of emerging platforms and individual businesses to get consumer visibility online
  • The reticence of prominent brands or larger business chains to support emerging platforms and the impact of this on consumer adoption and platform growth

These issues as well as the general functioning of the online economy will be the subject of the virtual public hearings from 2-19 November this year.

Now read: Takealot dethroned — Best online shopping prices in South Africa

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Takealot’s dominance in South Africa investigated — all the companies joining