Traders' Body Launches National E-Commerce Portal
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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Friday said it was launching a national ecommerce marketplace for all retailers across the country. Named 'Bharatemarket', it would be in collaboration with several technology partners, the traders' body said in a statement.
In a video press conference, CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that the portal was a by-product of experiences gained by the traders' body while working with the Department of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to ensure supply of essential goods in containment zones during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak-enforced lockdown.
Being done with the initial handholding of the DPIIT, the statement referred to the platform as being democratic where each trader on board would be a shareholder.
“We have already started this program as a pilot, initially with a limited number of essential commodities, in six cities – Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Bengaluru with tremendous response from retailers, distributors and even consumers," said Khandelwal.
He added that the pilot had grown to over 90 cities in two weeks and that the learnings will allow them to scale across more locations and categories beyond grocery.
This push towards digital comes at an opportune time, with consumer behavior expected to change drastically even after the lockdown is lifted.
"While the Coronavirus problem may persist for a while, it is an opportunity to recognize both short- and long-term changes in consumer behavior which were unknown till now," Prashant Mehta, partner at venture capital firm Lightbox, said during a webinar on hyperlocal, organized by Entrepreneur India.
Major Critic of Ecommerce Giants
CAIT has been a long standing critic of the likes of Flipkart, which is owned by US retail giant Walmart, and Amazon, accusing them of predatory policies and hurting small and medium retailers.
"The distinctive feature of the portal is that all value created through the platform will be captured onshore. The platform will strictly adhere to the letter and spirit of the law," said CAIT national president BC Bhartia.
Bhartia added that the mission was to digitize the end-to-end supply chain for India's traditional and self-organized chain of traders, and bridge the current digital divide that exists between "Bharat and India".
CAIT aims to enroll about 10 million retailers on the platform in quick time and create the world's largest online marketplace.
"Consumers shopping here will get the benefit of receiving goods from trusted neighbourhood stores and the assurance of service support close at hand," said Bhartia.