Technology for MSMEs: The open-source e-commerce ecosystem – Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which was announced by the Ministry of Commerce last month, would encourage easy digital adoption by small businesses that are yet to get onboard online commerce networks, said Minister of State for Commerce and Industry ministry Som Parkash. Out of roughly 6.33 crore MSMEs in India, only a handful of enterprises sell goods and services online. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had announced ONDC to cater to the challenge of digital monopolies and “digitize the entire value chain, standardize operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for consumers,” an official statement had said last month. Currently, e-commerce in India, which is likely to be worth $188 billion market by 2025 as per Grant Thornton, is led by Walmart’s Flipkart and Amazon India.
“Small businesses would be able to use any ONDC compatible applications instead of being governed by specific platform-centric policies. This will provide multiple options to small businesses to be discoverable over network and conduct business. It would also encourage easy adoption of digital means by those currently not on digital commerce networks,” Parkash said on Wednesday in Lok Sabha. This decentralisation aspect, he added, would come from standardised operations like cataloguing, inventory management, order management, and order fulfillment.
“The concept is great and it would be of huge advantage if its implementation is well thought off and if it serves what it talks about in an easily navigated way. The government should look at the ease of operations and ease of getting on board for businesses. In fact, there should be a helpline, which MSME Ministry can look at, to help MSMEs for support. If a seller is able to sell goods online beyond his region by being discoverable across networks particularly amid Covid, then such a programme should be endorsed,” Harjinder Kaur Talwar, Vice President, FICCI CMSME told Financial Express Online. Talwar is also the MD and CEO of road traffic management solutions company Comvision India.
ONDC is likely to make e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for consumers who can potentially discover any seller, product, or service by using any ONDC compatible application or platform, thus increasing freedom of choice for consumers, Parkash added. The platform will also enable the consumers to match demand with the nearest available supply of goods of his/her choice. The initiative to integrate e-commerce platforms through a network based on open-source technology independent of any single or unique e-commerce platform has been tasked to the Quality Council of India.
The government had last month also announced a nine-member advisory council constituted for advice on how to design and accelerate the adoption of ONDC. The members included R.S. Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority; Nandan Nilekani, Non-executive Chairman, Infosys; Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary-General, CAIT; Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, QCI and Capacity Building Commission; Anjali Bansal, Founder & Chairperson, Avaana Capital; Arvind Gupta, Co-founder & Head, Digital India Foundation; Dilip Asbe, MD & CEO, NPCI; Suresh Sethi, MD & CEO, NSDL; and Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.