The ONDC has immense potential to democratise access to e-commerce for sellers of diverse products, ranging from groceries to handicrafts. The technology’s principles of interoperability and unbundling will be instrumental in encouraging entrepreneurial growth and innovation, as was observed in the computer software and recorded video content industries in other parts of the world. In short, the ONDC’s unbundled, open and interoperable architecture will favour the entry of specialised entrepreneurs across the value chain.
By making e-commerce inclusive and democratic, the ONDC will fuel key trends in India’s e-commerce landscape. Each of the trends that will contribute to the emergence of new business opportunities, enriching the landscape with numerous, diverse players at three levels: end-sellers (erstwhile non-digital sellers commencing their e-commerce journey), core enablers (such as logistics service providers, warehousing services and last-mile delivery agents) and facilitators (for smoother digital onboarding and access, such as app developers and compliance assistance agents).
However, some risks can come up on the network for buyers and sellers, which can impede the growth of entrepreneurship and prevent inclusive adoption of the network. Protection of buyer and seller interests, improving awareness, building digital skills, ensuring data privacy and network maintenance are some of the areas of concern. The not-for-profit sector can play a role in mitigating some of the risks around awareness, skills, cybersecurity and network upkeep, by mobilising funds and talent. Multiple stakeholders, including the government and technocrats, can contribute immensely in encouraging widespread adoption of the ONDC and enabling a robust monitoring and governance framework, to help the network thrive.
Authors: Parul Gupta and Abhishek Modi, with support from Shruti Mehta