JM Financial Institutional Securities Ltd. has released its report on Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) terming the company a population-scale initiative to democratise e-commerce, the detailed report concludes that it has the potential to create a win-win scenario for incumbents as well as new entrants. The report also terms extreme operational complexity as the roadblocks for ONDC.
"With its primary focus of enabling e-commerce for small retailers and MSMEs, ONDC has the potential to enhance retail digital penetration in the country at an even faster pace than what was seen during the COVID lockdowns. The network will enable a wider customer catchment to small retailers and direct customer access to MSMEs, creating millions of million-dollar businesses," said the report.
Using an open source protocol, ONDC switches the approach from closed platforms to a network that creates interoperability across all on boarded applications, says the report.
"This interoperability enables unbundling, which allows all participants to play to their strengths -- a banking app with millions of consumers focuses on boarding/engaging consumers while a SaaS provider for online sellers handholds the sellers. Further, the buyers get to stick to their app of choice for accessing a broad selection while sellers do not need to spend time and capital in working with multiple platforms in silos. Overall, this can drive capital efficiency for the players, helping them achieve profitability," said the report.
As per the report, the roadblocks to success of ONDC include solving the chicken and egg situation between supplier and buyer on boarding, customer complaints redressal (as a fragmented process also creates gaps for the process to fall through), competition issues in case the large incumbents or massive brands are on boarded as well as those related to data privacy and ownership.
"Looking at UPI evolution, ONDC might also need to decide on its positioning as a non-regulatory authority or becoming a rule-setting body in order to ensure that the network remains fairly attuned for the small retailer to not get marginalised," said the report.
Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) has been incubated with the primary purpose of supporting grassroots-level entrepreneurship and digitising small, local retailers by making them a participant in India's e-commerce revolution.
ONDC is pursuing an open protocol approach that drives interoperability between all onboarded platforms and, hence, lowering the entry barrier for a retailer to sell online. This allows a consumer on any app of his/her choice to buy from any seller across the network even if the seller might not be onboarded on the app that the customer is using.
"We appreciate this move by the Indian government to take the digital revolution across the nook and corner of the country and believe that this could be a massive driver in taking India's digital penetration in retail from the current 5-7 per cent to almost 20 per cent in the next 5 years (current IBEF estimate is of 19 per cent by 2030)," said the report.