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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Shopee said to poach Lazada sellers with RM3,000 offer


According to an unconfirmed chat message, Shopee appeared to be offering incentives to close down shops on Lazada. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Online shopping market Shopee is alleged to have offered RM3,000 in vouchers to entice sellers to ditch its principal competitor Lazada, but an industry insider says the practice should come as no surprise.

The offer was contained in an alleged WhatsApp conversation between a seller and Shopee which recently surfaced on tech portal Tech in Asia. Shopee appeared to be poaching sellers from their biggest competitor by offering them incentives to close their Lazada store.

“Shopee is looking to sponsor RM3,000 (worth of) vouchers to selected sellers. The only condition is to shut down your Lazada store for 9/9 (a popular Lazada sale),” reads the WhatsApp text, which was supposedly sent last year to a Shopee seller.

The vouchers provide sellers discounts on service fees. It is understood that apart from forfeiting these vouchers if the exclusivity agreement is breached, other penalties include the withdrawal of participation in free shipping programmes and having items not featured in marketing campaigns temporarily.

While Shopee declined to comment for this article, an industry expert told FMT that the practice of providing marketing support and discounts on service fees to sellers who prioritise one retail channel over another is not new.

“All platforms have such programmes and the practice has been around in e-commerce for decades. This has also been a practice among traditional retailers for years and years,” said the insider.

“Such programems are not compulsory and the sellers can opt out at any time. If they choose not to participate, they are still free to operate as a seller on the platform with full access to the same set of services.”

While FMT has learnt that Lazada has an exclusivity programmme which offers RM1,000 for vendors to sell their products solely through its online platform, it is uncertain whether the policy is still being implemented.

FMT has also been unable to find any evidence that Lazada, or any other e-commerce platform, employs tactics as per the alleged WhatsApp conversation between Shopee and the seller to secure exclusivity rights. - FMT

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