'Vocal for Local' – the clarion call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pave the way for a self-reliant India is slowly becoming the driving force behind a host of technological initiatives aimed at alleviating woes of the marginalised sections of the business community.
Lokacart is one such initiative. The e-commerce platform, developed jointly by Professor Ganesh Ramakrishnan (Department of CSE, IIT Bombay) and Ashvin Gami (IIT-B alumni and MD, StrategicERP), looks to address inventory management woes of small businesses and farmers.
The app has been developed for Android and iOS platforms.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, Ramakrishnan said the app has been developed after gathering feedback through various meetings and discussions with farmers and farmer groups.
"This app is tailor-made for small enterprises. The idea behind Lokacart was to complement the existing arrangements in the MSME market place. We did not want to disrupt existing arrangements of customers with their suppliers. Many other e-commerce platforms take the discount model. But we realise that every seller has an USP and therefore, we have stayed away from that model. There are a lot of hidden costs in the discount model and we don't want to overload the customer with these comparisons," he told Moneycontrol.
In a country where adoption of digital payment methods among citizens is a work in progress, Ramakrishnan said Lokacart will draw upon the grassroot organisational strength of StrategicERP, who have field agents.
"They are already operating in other areas and have channel partners. Lokacart will be leveraging that avenue as it is very robust. They will be able to guide the sellers on how to use the app," he said.
Lokacart, which has over 200 vendors on board, is working on a model in which one percentage charge is levied on every transaction made from the seller's end. There is also a wallet feature which sellers can use.
Lokacart is also planning to collaborate with government agencies. Ramakrishnan reiterated that the idea behind the app was to avoid adding another layer of middle-man and gradually progress toward eradicating the middleman menace.
"Lokacart is a no-middleman kind of platform and I don't see any other platform offering the same service," he said.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here