Prices on ONDC will Remain Consumer Friendly in the Long Run, Says CBO Shireesh Joshi

ONDC CBO Shireesh Joshi said in an interaction with Outlook Business that the platform is looking to onboard new categories and forge partnerships with new players in the coming months
Prices on ONDC will Remain Consumer Friendly in the Long Run, Says CBO Shireesh Joshi

Launched in December 2022, ONDC has seen a sharp uptick in orders. The fact that this could be achieved without a great deal of advertising shows that the platform has actually come up with a solution for consumers and sellers, the platform’s CBO Shireesh Joshi says. 

The prices of goods and services on Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) will remain consumer-friendly in the long run, the platform’s chief business officer (CBO) Shireesh Joshi told Outlook Business during a recent interaction. According to Joshi, ONDC expects firms to pass on pricing benefits to consumers.

“It (ONDC) is a lower cost way of doing ecommerce. As the work and cost structure is distributed, no one party must do all the activities, which helps to keep prices low. The fact that the network is price competitive is inherent in the network itself,” Joshi says. 

Launched in December 2022, ONDC onboards sellers across categories including food, fashion and groceries. The firm has seen a rapid rise in orders on the platform from just 1,000 in January 2023 to more than 7.5 million in March 2024. 

“The growth in transactions was achieved without any serious amount of advertising. The fact that we have reached this scale organically suggests we have been able to provide a solution to consumers and sellers,” says Joshi.

Breaking down the number of transactions on the network, Joshi says around 50 per cent of orders on the platform are mobility-based. The network has on boarded several ride hailing services which includes the Bengaluru-based Namma Yatri. Recently, the platform also signed an agreement with Uber.

In the non-mobility category, the top three categories in terms of transactions are food, grocery and fashion. Talking about growth of these trajectories, Joshi says it is too early to judge the categories individually. 

“As we are at an early stage, a lot depends on individual players. The growth rates are impacted by the kind of resources an individual player had while joining the network. We will have to achieve a lot more scale before we are able to individually judge the momentum,” he says.

When ONDC launched, it was seen as a competitor to ecommerce giants Amazon and Flipkart. But later, Economic Times reported that the Indian government has asked the two giants to integrate ONDC on their platforms. Speaking about this potential partnership, Joshi says the platform will welcome everyone. “Whenever these two organisations are ready, we would welcome partnerships with them equally,” he adds.

ONDC recorded over 21.5 million transactions between January and March, 2024, according to a report in Mint. Notably, this was the same quarter in which Paytm, a prominent buyer app facilitating ONDC’s transactions, faced the brunt of Reserve Bank of India’s action on its payments bank arm. 

While Paytm’s business is expected to suffer, Joshi says the ONDC platform will continue to grow and there are no headwinds to its prospects. “In the near future, our goal is to continue our outreach programme and onboard more sellers. The goal is to add more categories which we have not explored so far,” he says.  

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