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Exclusive | ITC, Unilever, Dabur in talks with ONDC; Shopify may join too

The Indian open network for e-commerce is also exploring ways to build a system that will help the FMCG companies offer separate deals and price points to distributors, retailers and individual consumers

June 01, 2022 / 02:00 PM IST
Representatative image

Representatative image

Major FMCG players like ITC, Unilever, Dabur and Nivea are in talks with ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce), which is building technology to enable interoperability among e-commerce platforms, to join the network, according to sources familiar with developments.

The Indian open network for e-commerce is also exploring ways to build a system that will help the FMCG companies offer separate deals and price points to distributors, retailers and individual consumers.

“Discussions are on with Shopify also. If it comes on board, then all the sellers on Shopify will come on board automatically,” said an official working with ONDC.

Moneycontrol reached out to ITC, Unilever and Dabur for a confirmation, but didn’t get any response till the time of publishing. Nivea and Shopify could not be reached.

"There are also talks going on with several banks and not just the ones who have invested in ONDC", the official said, without specifying which ones.

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Some of the banks who have funded the open network are State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank, among others.

News agency Reuters reported last week that Alphabet Inc’s Google is also in talks with the Indian government to integrate its shopping services with the country’s open e-commerce network ONDC.

The ONDC programme aims to join 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants online, and cover at least 100 cities and towns by August, when it is planning to schedule a grand launch.

In April, the network piloted a soft launch in five cities – Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, Shillong, Bhopal and Coimbatore.  

Dynamic pricing, inventory management and optimisation of delivery cost are the three important things in ONDC which will help reduce the cost of doing business for everybody, including retailers.

The government has set up a nine-member advisory council, including Nandan Nilekani from Infosys and National Health Authority CEO R S Sharma, to ascertain steps required to design and accelerate adoption of ONDC.

The foundations of ONDC are to be open protocols for all aspects in the entire chain of activities in exchange of goods and services, similar to hypertext transfer protocol for information exchange over internet, simple mail transfer protocol for exchange of emails and unified payments interface for payments.

These open protocols would be used for establishing public digital infrastructure in the form of open registries and open network gateways to enable exchange of information between providers and consumers. Providers and consumers would be able to use any compatible application of their choice for exchange of information and carrying out transactions over ONDC.
Deepsekhar Choudhury
first published: Jun 1, 2022 01:39 pm
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