“Indian e-commerce is governed by certain basic fundamentals. Those are: no predatory pricing, no deep discounting, and no preferential seller treatment. If an entity follows these fundamentals, in letter and spirit, we won’t have any problem with them,” said Praveen Khandelwal, national general secretary of traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), in response to MediaNama’s question about the Facebook-Jio deal, and JioMart beginning operations subsequently. He was speaking at the launch of BharatEMarket today — an e-commerce platform for offline retailers to sell things online. It is worth noting that the platform is currently not operational (it doesn’t even have a logo yet) and will only begin operations next month. CAIT has been at the forefront of the pushback against Amazon and Flipkart, including petitioning against Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart, and holding a nationwide protest during Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ trip to India earlier this year.
Khandelwal’s comments come after the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) along with CAIT invited solutions including e-commerce solutions, messaging platforms, logistics solutions, digital payment gateways, and app development, among other things, to help kirana stores, as mom-and-pop retail stores are called in India, in taking and delivering online orders. Khandelwal clarified to us that the role of the DPIIT is limited to bringing in these solutions, but the complete ownership of the portal will remain with CAIT, and that there will be “100% data localisation”.
Won’t charge commission from sellers: Khandelwal
Khandelwal claimed that traders selling goods using CAIT’s marketplace will not have to pay any commissions on sales, or any transaction charges for payments. He did not mention how exactly CAIT would shore up the capital to keep the marketplace up and running if it doesn’t charge any commission from sellers.
The platform, in some fragmented form, is currently operational in 90 cities, with about 6,300 onboarded traders. However, these operations are not happening over the BharatEMarket platform, but on platforms created using KiranaLinker and GlobalBox. Khandelwal claimed that as soon as the marketplace is ready, these sellers will be onboarded to one central platform. For new sellers, CAIT will provide them with 2 email IDs, using which they can submit a request to be onboarded, Khandelwal said in response to a question we raised.
BharatEMarket will allow users to order goods and get them delivered from their nearby stores, Khandelwal said. When we probed further, Khandelwal said that for each product search, a user will be shown about 4-6 options from their vicinity. He did not specify whether a particular seller would be shown as default to users when they search for a product, or if they’ll always be shown all seller options before choosing who to place the order with.
Sameer Vakil, co-founder and CEO of GlobalLinker, a business networking platform solution which has offered the “core technology” for CAIT’s marketplace, said that it would be equipped with all payment options including UPI, wallets, debit/credit cards, RTGS, and NEFT. CAIT has partnered with the All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) for delivering orders.