News & Analysis

ONDC Gets Support from Big Tech Investors

Top notch venture capital companies are now asking its portfolio firms to take the government initiative seriously and join up

Despite some doomsday predictions from armchair researchers on how ONDC could be a tougher kettle of fish for the government to successfully implement, there is enough evidence to suggest that big businesses do actually believe that decentralization as a tool would go a long way towards broadening India’s eCommerce footprint. 

The first big name in eCommerce to announce that it was hooked to ONDC was Snapdeal which confirmed that over 2500 cities and towns would be enabled when it joins the network from August. It also confirmed inter and intra city logistics via its third-party providers when it opens with three categories, viz., fashion, home and beauty and personal care. 

However, in what should be music to the ears for the folks over at ONDC, reports are now coming in that big tech investors like SoftBank and Sequoia Capital are advising their portfolio companies to join the network. This is the outcome of multiple discussions that ONDC executives have had with these companies. 

On its part, the ONDC has sought to clarify that the initiative isn’t aimed at breaking the monopoly of Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart. “We are not here to challenge them. We are essentially eCommerce enablers helping the small retailers leverage the digitization of commerce through our network,” ONDC chief business officer Shireesh Joshi had said. 

Given this clarity, it isn’t surprising that senior executives at VC funds appear confident now that ONDC would only enhance the footprint of their portfolio companies in the eCommerce space. ONDC chief executive T Koshy had clarified recently that “the entities readying themselves for this new reality will reap the benefit and the others will pay the price.”

Meanwhile a report published in the Economic Times says fund managers had discussions to get clarity around exactly how things would work out with ONDC and the scope of its work. Post these discussions, the investors such as SoftBank, which boasts of some of the big companies in its eCommerce portfolio were convinced enough to suggest that they join up. 

In fact, the report also claimed that the Indian Venture Capital Association (IVCA) recently held discussions with the ONDC team to get a grip on how various startups could collaborate on the network. Meanwhile a clutch of startups such as eSamudaay have already partnered with ONDC to help small businesses digitize themselves. 

Other startups that have already made their presence felt on the delivery landscape appear to be in discussions. The report said logistics aggregator Shiprocket is in the final stages of joining the network that could simply inter-city delivery of goods purchased from vendors who are on board the ONDC network. 

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