ONDC: A Rural-Based Approach In E-Commerce With Vision of Stronger Economy – News18


India’s economic foundation still resides in its villages, with over 60 per cent of the population living in rural areas and tier IV-VI cities. These regions possess numerous unique crafts, skills, and traditional treasures, apart from agriculture, forest produce, and livestock products. For decades, these communities have faced challenges in bringing their products to the market, despite recent logistics and delivery advancements led by Indian startups connecting even the most remote corners.

Until now, villages and small towns were seen as contributors to India’s consumption story alone. However, better supply chain connectivity has created the right opportunity for real India to gain from the huge cities-based consumption story, and the Indian government has introduced ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) to seize this opportunity. As a government-backed e-commerce interoperability program, ONDC aims to democratise the e-commerce space in India, offering significant opportunities for all players.

Empowering E-Commerce Through Innovation and Fair Competition

ONDC is set to revolutionise the e-commerce sector by levelling the playing field for e-commerce platforms and sellers, while also expanding digital market access for millions of small businesses and traders in the country. By serving as an open-source e-commerce platform, ONDC allows buyers and sellers to transact regardless of the platform they are registered on, thereby enabling sellers from smaller platforms to reach millions of potential buyers.

The integration of various State platforms with ONDC will have a positive snowball effect on internal trade, as many State governments have already established state handicraft and art promotion platforms.

Unlocking Digital Opportunities for Farmers and Agribusinesses

ONDC is working closely with NABARD to activate e-commerce in the agriculture domain, with two-fold objectives: integrating existing agri-tech e-commerce players into the ONDC network and developing innovative solutions that accelerate the network’s adoption. Market linkage has long been a concern for the agricultural sector, as it lacks the resources to create a comprehensive supply value chain.

ONDC has the potential to address this challenge effectively. The platform enables Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs) to sell their produce online, while separate agencies handle other aspects such as payment processing, supply chain logistics, and the technology platform. With approximately 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture and related activities, ONDC can be a significant catalyst for rural-led GDP growth in India.

Empowering Indian Artisans and Craftsmen

Handicraft, one of the most important Indian economy contributors, with unique woodware, art metal wares, handprinted textiles, embroidered goods, imitation jewelry, sculptures, pottery, and glassware crafts, has huge market potential, The handicraft industry in India is dominated by female artisans, with over 56% of the total artisan, and most of these manufacturing units are in rural and small towns.

However, despite the high demand for these products in Indian cities, their full potential remains untapped due to low or no online visibility. While several portals exist to sell these products, it is challenging for customers to be aware of multiple platforms and visit each one. ONDC’s interoperable platform consolidates these sellers onto a single platform, providing consumers with a wider choice while expanding the consumer base for sellers.

The Power of Standardised Processes and Protocols Under ONDC

Traditionally, small merchants faced numerous challenges when attempting to establish an online presence. The lack of technical expertise, high upfront costs, and complex processes often deterred them. However, ONDC addresses these hurdles by offering standardized process flows and protocols that streamline the entire onboarding journey. The standardised process flows provide a clear roadmap, ensuring that small merchants can efficiently establish and manage their online presence.

In conclusion, the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is a visionary government initiative with the potential to reshape the e-commerce landscape in India. ADIF spokespersons believe that ONDC is spearheading the transformation of India’s digital economy by creating equal opportunities for businesses, and fostering standardisation, with the potential of reviving Indian rural economy-led growth.

This groundbreaking initiative not only empowers businesses of all sizes but also enhances customer experiences and fosters sustainable growth. As ONDC continues to evolve and gain momentum, it will empower farmers, craftsmen, and micro-enterprises, giving a significant boost to the Indian rural economy and contributing to India’s goal of reaching a $5-rillion GDP, thereby creating a stronger nation.

(The author is the executive director of Alliance of Digital India Foundation)


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