SA's competition watchdog has demanded that Google, Uber Eats, Takealot and Apple take a range of steps to encourage competition from smaller companies.

This includes that Google must provide R330m in advertising credits and other support to local small businesses, while Takealot must change its site to increase competition from small suppliers. 

The Competition Commission has also targeted online property platforms which have secured multi-year contracts with large real estate agencies. Trade, Industry & Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said the findings affect any consumer who buys food, clothing or more expensive products such as air fryers and solar panels online, notes a Business Day report.

‘If you book a hotel, or you get a cooked meal delivered to your home or you sell or buy a house or you use apps for banking, for work, for communication or for entertainment, or you search for products or services through Google, then this report speaks to you,’ Patel said.

The commission yesterday released its final report into the dominance of online retail platforms in the country.

Fin24 reports that the inquiry was launched more than two years ago. The commission found that Google must provide R180m in advertising credits for smaller businesses, as well as allowing greater prominence for smaller online platforms on the tech giant's search engine. Google will also have to provide a further R150m in training, product support and other measures for SMEs and black-owned online companies to ‘offset the competitive disadvantages faced on Google Search’.

Google must also introduce a South African flag identifier in its search results so that consumers who want to use local retailers can easily identify them.

Google Play and Apple Store Online must stop preventing smaller app stores from directing consumers to pay directly on their own sites.

The commission further said Takealot must separate its retail division from its online marketplace because of a perceived conflict of interest.

According to the Fin24 report, the commission says this will prevent its retail services from ‘accessing seller data and unilaterally stopping sellers from competing for certain brands’.

Takealot will also have to introduce a 60-day dispute resolution process for marketplace sellers complaints on returns and stock loss, which ‘will be deemed resolved in favour of the seller if not resolved within 60 days’.

To encourage greater participation of disadvantaged businesses in ecommerce, Takealot will also have to implement a programme aimed at historically disadvantaged persons that will introduce personalised onboarding for them, the waiver of subscription fees for the first three months and at least R2 000 advertising credit for use in the first three months.

The new requirements are immediately binding but will be implemented in phases, the commission said.

Full Fin24 report

Full Business Day report