Retail's WhatsApp moment: Indian ecommerce on the cusp of a great disruption

The Open Network for Digital Commerce will enable buyers and sellers to be visible to each other. The timing of the launch is significant because India is poised to digitally onboard the next half-a-billion. Almost all of them will do so through mobile phone.

After ONDC, a buyer and seller will be use separate platforms and yet transact with each other. Anil Padmanabhan Last week, on April 30, India undertook the soft launch of its audacious plan to democratise the business of retail. It is riding the technological rails provided by the Open Network for Digital Commerce ( ONDC ) – the newly created private, not-for-profit company under Section 8 of the Companies Act – to inspire a disruption in ecommerce , like what Unified Payments Interface ( UPI ) did for payments.

The ONDC network proposes to connect buyers and sellers, including those at the bottom of the food chain – the kirana and the small buyer. The ONDC network is such that it will allow interoperability between ecommerce platforms. If successful, it will, in one stroke, have solved the prevailing asymmetry of information and access – a revenue model for existing ecommerce platforms – something that also creates inefficiencies and distorts price discovery.

Toll-Free Expressway
The ONDC is not a rival platform. Instead, it is an open network protocol developed on open digital ecosystems (ODE) that will amplify the power of these otherwise fragmented platforms by linking them. Consequently, a buyer and seller can use separate platforms and yet transact with each other. It does so by eliminating the need for a central intermediary with proprietary rights – which is what closed platforms do. Implicit in this is the thought that no single platform like a ‘super-app’ can solve for all digital commerce.

The underlying concept is very […]

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