Touchpoint Highlights – What ONDC means for Small Businesses

The fourth session in the SKI Touchpoint series was conducted by the Digital Platforms Practice Area, on the theme of Digital Pathways with ONDC for Nano & Small Businesses’. Abhishek Modi, Lead – Digital Platforms at SKI (, moderated this session, featuring Nandita Sharma, the Social Impact Lead for ONDC.

ONDC, a digital infrastructure comparable to highways, serves as a conduit for goods and services, and empowers diverse applications and platforms for various use cases. The government plays a crucial role in the development and operation of the ONDC infrastructure. Just as private establishments coexist alongside highways, e-commerce platforms operate on the ONDC, leveraging a shared infrastructure – with guidelines for selling goods digitally, ensuring transparency and inclusion – while adhering to their unique rules and operations. 

ONDC focuses on bringing unorganised sectors and small, rural entrepreneurs into the digital fold, by embracing unbundling and interoperability. Unbundling involves separating buyer-side, seller-side, and logistics-side applications, enabling targeted problem-solving and innovation within each segment. Interoperability ensures seamless communication and collaboration among third party applications, solutions, platforms,  resulting in a more efficient and cohesive ecosystem.

ONDC’s approach to digital commerce significantly prioritises the autonomy of both buyers and sellers. Sellers benefit from a transparent and affordable onboarding process, and can set their own terms, conditions, logistics providers, and commission charges. The multicasting of onboarded products to all buyer applications particularly benefits smaller or rural businesses. Additionally, ONDC supports sellers by providing digital skills training, as seen in their successful collaboration with Kanchipuram Weavers. Through the network’s unbundled nature, buyers can customise their orders by choosing from multiple sellers, products, and logistics providers. While potential challenges in data privacy may exist, the network places significant emphasis on implementing robust security measures. User data and privacy is safeguarded with the ONDC’s data retention and exchange policies. 

ONDC ensures non-discriminatory product listing and implements a decentralised reputation ledger system. Unlike conventional platforms, where sellers often have to start anew when switching to a different platform, ONDC allows sellers to carry their established reputation when transitioning between network participants. This continuity ensures that sellers’ reputation remains intact, aligning with the global trend of blockchain-based systems for transparency and fairness.

Foundations, NGOs and CSRs organisations can play a catalytic role in strengthening the digital public infrastructure. They can not only enhance digital literacy and readiness for artisans and weavers but also utilise ONDC for market linkage capabilities, invest catalytic capital to onboard sellers, and provide subsidies to lower the onboarding costs for small businesses.  

If you missed the session, you can catch the discussion here:

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