News & Analysis

ONDC now sets its Sight on non-Digital Traders

The government is exhorting start-ups to build apps on top of the platform to help digitize India's small business community



The government’s efforts to provide a level playing field to all businesses in the fast growing eCommerce market appears to be taking strong root. While seven companies, including one buyer app and sevel seller apps and a logistics provider have adopted the ONDC protocols, the sustained interest is making the ministry set its sights on a bigger goal now. 

Chairing the Advisory Committee Meeting of the ONDC, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal commended the progress made post the April 29 pilot program and asked those involved to take a step towards bringing the undigitized segment of India’s business community into the network. 

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is an initiative to promote open networks for all aspects of exchange of goods and services over digital networks whereby enterprises can create their own storefront and join the eCommerce bandwagon to sell across the country. 

An official press release from the Commerce Ministry says seven companies – one buyer side app, five seller side apps and one logistics service provider app – have adopted ONDC protocols and built their own ONDC compatible apps. These apps have been able to successfully complete cascaded transactions across the ONDC network during the pilot phase in five designated cities- Bengaluru, New Delhi, Bhopal, Shillong and Coimbatore – in grocery and food and beverages segments. 

The ONDC advisory council comprises Nandan Nilekani, Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman QCI, Anurag Jain, Secretary, DPIIT, R S Sharma, CEO, NHA, Suresh Sethi, CEO NSDL e-Gov, Dilip Asbe, CEO, NPCI, Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders, K Rajgopalan, CEO RAI, Arvind Gupta and Anjali Bansal of Avaana Capital and Anil Agrawal, Additional secretary, DPIIT.

Piyush Goyal told the members that post the success of the pilot, there has been growing interest in many new companies and a large number of companies on buyer side, seller side and logistics side are now building their own apps and are in advanced stages of integration with ONDC.

The Minister also noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the view that the ONDC will open up new opportunities for small traders, MSMEs and businesses. While the pilot phase of ONDC has given promising results with traders who were already digitally present, ONDC must prioritize strategies towards inclusion of non-digital traders, handicrafts and artisans so that the benefits of e-commerce may be availed by these sections. 

He asked the department to launch a pilot with focus on non-digital traders from one single market. He said the local trader associations should be involved in the exercise and necessary measures for awareness generation and capacity building of various stakeholders be taken.

Meanwhile, ONDC and NABARD have now joined hands on a program to bring the agriculture sector to ONDC and as a first step, a hackathon is being organized on 1-3 July to build innovative solutions for FPOs (Farmer Producer Organizations). The Minister said that ONDC may prove to be an invaluable tool to assist farmers find the right prices for their produce.

Moreover, the Uttar Pradesh government was also actively involved with ONDC to get all the products under its One District One Product (ODOP) plan into the network. Goyal said this effort could be replicated for Khadi, handicrafts and tribal products as well and exhorted the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to work with other ministries and state governments to get more traction on such ideas. 

Since the ONDC architecture removes entry barriers to eCommerce, Goyal said the government must leverage the strengths of Startup India to build more ONDC-based applications as it makes it more feasible for entrepreneurs to create sustainable business with the ONDC framework in place. “The network of Startup India Seed Funded incubators may be leveraged for this purpose. Creation of apps in regional languages should be promoted for catering to the diverse needs of citizens living in various towns and villages across the country,” he added. 


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