CAIT, which represents 70 million traders, will launch is ecommerce portal Bharat e-Market by August 15, according to its general secretary Praveen Khandelwal
The onboarding of CAIT’s seller community on ONDC will be crucial to the network’s initiative of reaching out to small sellers
Despite reservations about the presence of Flipkart and Amazon on ONDC, Khandelwal said that CAIT members will join the platform by the end of 2022
The Confederation of All India Traders, a representative body of small retailers which claims to have 70 million traders as members, is likely to join the government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce by the end of 2022.
CAIT’s members will join ONDC after the launch of the body’s own ecommerce platform, Bharat e-Market, CAIT General Secretary Praveen Khandelwal told Inc42 in an exclusive interaction.
Bharat e-Market is most likely to be launched by August 15, CAIT’s Khandelwal added.
Khandelwal said that its members will join ONDC through Bharat e-Market. The traders’ body had earlier said that its ecommerce platform will enable small retailers/ sellers to digitise their businesses, and it will follow the guidelines stipulated by the laws of the land.
CAIT is targeting to onboard 7 Lakh retailers on Bharat e-Market at the time of its launch, and to increase the number to 1 Cr traders from across the country by February 2023.
In March this year, CAIT launched its vendor onboarding mobile application for registration of businesses on Bharat e-Market and created its own “e-dukaan”.
Although CAIT has some reservations regarding ONDC as ecommerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon will also join the platform, the government-backed network will provide a fillip to the country’s trade, Khandelwal said.
“We are in talks with the Union Commerce Ministry as well as top ONDC executives and have expressed our concerns on issues including transparency, anti-competitive market practices by the existing big players. We, of course, seek redressal to those challenges,” Khandelwal said.
CAIT has been fighting a high-pitched battle against Amazon and Flipkart and has also moved to courts as well as the Competition Commission of India, alleging that the ecommerce companies have been violating FDI norms and following anti-competitive practices.
The competition watchdog is reportedly probing the linkages between Amazon and Flipkart and their preferred sellers.
Will CAIT Coexist With Amazon, Flipkart On ONDC?
ONDC Chief Business Officer Shireesh Joshi recently told Inc42 that the network should not be seen as a challenger to Amazon and Flipkart, but as an ecommerce enabler which will reach out to millions of small retailers and sellers from various parts of the country and widen the market access to them by bringing the sellers and buyers together.
“One has to understand that at its core we are enabling the small retailers (unorganised market) to reach out to the buyers in a seamless manner. So for instance, if companies like Amazon, Flipkart are being onboarded, this also translates into their user base (buyers) having access to our network, and besides the sellers on these marketplaces, they will also view the products from the sellers who are outside Amazon, Flipkart. Hence, it is a win-win situation,” the top ONDC executive explained.
He addressed challenges like deep discounting, flash sales, and seller exclusivity (flagged by CAIT) by stating that only an open network like ONDC can solve these issues, unlike closed marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon.
“An open network where buyers and sellers have access to everyone and everything will bring more transparency which is required,” Joshi added.
Khandelwal expressed concerns about the cash burn by the ecommerce giants over the past few years to gain market share, and said it remains to be seen if the small sellers would be able to compete even while being on a network like ONDC.
“That being said, we are committed to being onboarded on ONDC,” Khandelwal, who resigned from ONDC’s advisory council earlier this year, said.
“I had resigned from the advisory council purely on the grounds of conflict of interest since I am heading a retailers’ body and the network was in talks with many of our competitors as well as the parties we are fighting legally,” he added.
ONDC aims to provide a level-playing field to small sellers and tap the flourishing Indian ecommerce market, which is expected to reach a size of $400 Bn by 2030.
ONDC, which was launched on April 29 this year, began on a pilot basis in five cities – Delhi, Bengaluru, Shillong, Coimbatore and Bhopal. It has now been expanded to Lucknow and 12 other Indian cities and is targeted to cover 100 cities by the end of 2022.