Developments In The E-Commerce Sector And Assessment Of The Problems Arising With Consumers In The Scope Of The Covid-19 Outbreak
With technological developments, electronic commerce (“E-Commerce”), which has become one of the cornerstones of the economy, has become one of the ecosystems that direct the trade sector during the new type of corona virus (“Covid-19”) epidemic. Especially with the measures taken within the scope of Covid-19 and digital transformations in recent months; It has caused some changes in the operation and infrastructure demands of the e-commerce sector. Thus, it has been stated in the researches that the digital transformation of the E-Commerce sector which is expected to be completed in the coming years, has been completed in the last few months due to Covid-19, therefore necessary software updates have been made to improve the performance of E-Commerce actors operating both domestically and abroad. Although Covid-19 has brought new digital adaptations to the commerce sector, problems related to some legal, technical, operational and infrastructure problems persist in E-Commerce sites. In this study, the reflections of the Covid-19 epidemic to the E-Commerce sector, the developments in E-Commerce and the legal evaluations regarding the problems experienced by consumers due to the operational / logistics transactions of E-Commerce companies are included.
II. DEVELOPMENTS IN THE E-COMMERCE SECTOR
The curfews, quarantine and isolation practices imposed in many countries due to Covid-19 led to the change in shopping methods, in this way, significant changes in consumer behavior and resulted in the restructuring of the E-Commerce sector. After Covid-19 was accepted as a global epidemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th 2020, it was clearly seen that new and active user activity increased in the field of E-Commerce. Thus, according to surveys, especially Turkey after March 11, the increase in the volume of e-commerce is not observed up to 200%. In addition to these changes, COVID-19 has significantly changed consumer behavior and brought a different dimension to the E-Commerce industry in terms of product volume and consumer demands. For example, a product group that had a wide marketing and sales volume before Covid-19 (food and beverage industry, travel-accommodation-tourism, service sales, etc.) decreased significantly after Covid-19, while other product groups (personal care , decoration, hobby-entertainment, etc.) important leaps have occurred. Although the developments in both Covid-19 and the E-Commerce sector have re-established new consumer behaviors, they have also brought many legal problems.
III. SOME LEGAL PROBLEMS WITH CONSUMERS ACCORDING TO THE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE E-COMMERCE SECTOR
Although some isolation practices introduced during the Covid-19 process and the E-Commerce sector, which has grown rapidly in the world and in our country in recent years, has become one of the new capital dynamics, it has also brought many legal problems. Especially during the epidemic period, consumers gained new shopping habits and quickly turned to online sales platforms, causing some problems in the operational network of companies operating in the E-Commerce sector. As is known, there are many legal regulations regarding platforms that sell to consumers in our country. For E-Commerce companies working with the B2C model, there are some obligations to be followed before and after the distance sales contract.
Distance contract in the 48th article titled “Distance Contracts” of the Law on the Protection of Consumers No 6502 (“LPC”) which entered into force after being published in the Official Gazette dated 28.11.2013 and numbered 28835; “These are contracts established between the parties using remote communication tools, including the moment of conclusion of the contract, within the framework of a system established for the remote marketing of goods or services without the simultaneous physical presence of the seller or the supplier and the consumer.” ıt was defined as.
Based on this definition, distance sales contracts are basically accepted as a contract that the parties do not establish simultaneously, that is established in electronic environment and does not give the consumer any right to change the contract. This agreement on E-Commerce sites; It is set up by clicking the “I accept” option presented to the attention of consumers on E-Commerce sites. With the “health” and generally accepted understanding of “practicality, time and energy saving” adopted recently by e-commerce users, most consumers tend to accept distance contracts without reading.
Thus, the widespread trend accepted by consumers was taken into consideration by the legislator long ago and certain regulations were made for the protection of the consumer in distance contracts. In this context, in distance contracts submitted to the approval of consumers through E-Commerce sites; records that put the consumer under unfair responsibility even though the seller or provider did not fulfill his debt, records that the seller or provider is not liable despite an act that harms the consumer, records that the seller or provider may terminate the contract for no reason, records that require a disproportionate sanction if the consumer does not fulfill his debt and it is forbidden to add statements on the records that the terms of the contract may be changed by the seller or the supplier. This issue is stated in the Article 77 of the LPC titled “Penal Provisions”, that administrative fines will be imposed on those who use these phrases.For this reason, consumers who shop from E-Commerce sites must first carefully read the distance sales contracts. Otherwise, the right of withdrawal of the consumers may come to the fore with some problems about the return of the purchased product.
In addition to all these, due to the intensity and interest in the E-Commerce sector due to the epidemic, there are some problems in the delivery of the product in practice and especially in the delivery-based operational processes of E-Commerce companies. Especially while delivery times are an important competitive factor for E-Commerce companies, they shape shopping habits for consumers. Undoubtedly, delivery times have gained great importance in this period when Covid-19 significantly affects the E-Commerce ecosystem. Because of the excessive burden placed on the shoulders of E-Commerce and logistics companies, the delivery of some orders may take 2-3 weeks and this situation leads consumers to search for different companies.
So much so, according to the E-commerce report prepared by Adobe Analytics before Covid-19, it was stated that many consumers preferred to receive the products they purchased online from a nearby store due to the disruptions in the delivery of online orders. Although this situation has been minimized for now, establishing a logistics network that is compatible with the delivery times specified in distance sales contracts is among the main duties of all E-Commerce actors. In particular, in the past months, when Covid-19 quickly took its effects, E-Commerce companies have used various methods to limit the number of shipments.
Although Covid-19 has negatively affected the product delivery times of the companies, the cargo companies with which E-Commerce companies are contracted will receive 2 (two) days at the latest from the day they receive the product they will deliver in accordance with the Road Transport Regulation, article 43 (fortythree), It is obliged to transport it within 3 (three) days at the latest in domestic shipments and within 15 (fifteen) days at the latest in international shipments and to deliver it to its recipient within these periods in accordance with the delivery method. For this reason, whether it is from cargo companies or from other operational operations of E-Commerce companies, this does not mean that late delivery of products to consumers is acceptable.
In the light of this information, another important factor that should be considered in distance sales contracts brought to the attention of consumers; whether there is a period committed by the company for the delivery of the product in distance sales contracts. It should be noted that the promised period in terms of product sales is limited to 30 (thirty) days in accordance with the 3rd paragraph of the 48th article titled “Distance Contracts” of the LPC. In this context, if the product is not delivered to the consumer within the specified period, the consumer can always terminate the contract and in case of termination, the seller will be able to demand the sales price from the relevant company. In this context, if the product is not delivered to the consumer within the specified period, the consumer can always terminate the contract and in case of termination, the seller will be able to demand the sales price from the relevant company.
It cannot be denied that the burden undertaken by cargo companies in this temporary period will affect the activities of e-commerce companies. This may lie behind the companies imposing a certain amount of basket requirement in order to limit the number of shipments. Certainly, as we are in an extraordinary period, the consumer currently has no chance to choose an e-commerce site that delivers faster. However, in the next period, we can say that fast deliveries will be extremely critical, especially if we take into account online grocery shopping. Because when it comes to grocery shopping, the basic needs of the consumer are in question, and the consumer wants these products to be in their hands immediately, so companies that offer online grocery services try to keep the consumer with fast deliveries. Otherwise, it is quite possible for the consumer to physically go to the market and buy the products they need. In the upcoming period, we can expect fast deliveries, which are important in online grocery shopping, to become a standard across e-commerce. Currently, large e-commerce companies such as Amazon – Hepsiburada in our country – are offering the option of “same day delivery” in certain product categories by establishing their own logistics networks, but it is highly possible that we will see this spread across the industry and to more product categories in the future.  Another change brought about by Covid-19 in the E-Commerce sector is undoubtedly that it creates new consumer behaviors and consequently, consumers tend to different product categories. However, this situation has led to an increase in demand for some products and severe increases in product prices. Namely, in the first wave of the epidemic, some suppliers and / or sellers decided to determine their own price policy and to gain unfair profit by pricing well above market conditions, depending on the demand for various products, especially health products.
Under the circumstances, ın order to prevent unfair competition in the E-Commerce sector and to prevent unfair competition in the E-Commerce sector, some studies have been carried out by the Revenue Administration (“RA”) within the scope of combating unfair price increases, and various notification and notification by the Tax Communication Center and the General Directorate of Consumer Protection and Market Surveillance line is available to consumers.
In addition to these measures taken by public authorities, in addition to a complaint mechanism for consumers on this issue, the Regulation on Amendment to the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices (“Regulation”) published in the Official Gazette dated 31.08.2018 and numbered 30521 to make an increase in the sales price of the goods or services offered to the consumer without a justifiable reason, by acting as if it is not affected by price changes such as input cost and exchange rate increase The phrase “has been added and has been subject to various sanctions in this context. However, consumers for E-Commerce companies that apply exorbitant prices during the epidemic process always have the right to complain within the scope of the Regulation and the measures taken by the RA.
Due to the rapid digitalization caused by the Covid-19 epidemic and the reflection of this change on consumer behavior, traditional shopping methods have been replaced by fast and practical E-Commerce. The rapid developments in the E-Commerce sector, which steers the global economy, have brought along many problems related to logistics, unfair prices and distance sales contracts. The awareness of the addressees of this sector, which consumers are rapidly adapting to and expected to eliminate traditional shopping in the future, inform them about the rights they have in the relevant legislation, and companies operating in the E-Commerce sector carry out logistics, delivery and other operation processes with legal processes, providing medium and long-term consumer satisfaction maturity will contribute to creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. It will be inevitable for both consumers and company owners to comply with the legal regulations that we have mentioned in detail in our study, the increase in the investments made by many companies in E-Commerce, and the replacement of physical stores by E-Commerce by spreading the digitalization plans spread over the next few years in a shorter period.
 Digital 2020: Global Digital Overview.(Avrasya Sosyal ve Ekonomi Araştırmaları Dergisi- Dr. Hüseyin GÜVEN)
 Digital 2020: Global Digital Overview