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LCommerce - The Panacea for AtmaNirbhar Bharat

Grassroot change is required to meet India's lofty economic growth targets
PUBLISHED Jun 12, 2021
Anup Pai
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Commerce, or the conduct of trade between two or more partners, has from time immemorial been based on information. The lowest common denominator of such information would be an assessment of supply and demand. Which is probably how the early sea-farers from Europe set the trend of a globalized world - basing their journeys on their monopoly over data and logistics. 

In other words, their access to the what, where, when, who and how much (data) coupled with the how (logistics) was what drove these sea-farers to their destinations. Much of pre-digital age commerce was also driven by this  network of human associations that connected producers to the customers. Once computers and the internet arrived, the dynamics changed completely. A third category arrived in the form of retailers who interacted initially with the traders from whom they purchased the goods that originally came from the producers. 

During the 1970s 1980s, the retailers ruled the roost, letting loose a wave of consumerism in the United States. The manner that the retailers won the battle is instructive for future commerce in the digital age. The advent of the barcode was astep that ensured their hegemony. Within a few quick years, the balance of power moved from large manufacturers to the retailers by the 1990s. Even the mid-sized retailers had the clout to reject products with faulty barcodes. Earlier, the salesperson from large brands told retailers exactly what to stock and how much. 

Enterprises that controlled the market for most of the last three decades, the big corporations in the United States boasted of the best access to consumer preference data. They found a way to use this information to competitive advantage. With the arrival of the internet and eCommerce, a new type of retailer arrived to take this advantage way beyond to a level that is getting further accentuated by the developments in the field of IoT, Deep Learning and Cloud Computing. 

You may ask me what all of this data from the past has to do with eSamudaay, which is seeking to connect businesses in small cities and towns with their customers? No prizes for guessing! It is once again data that would be driving local trade to compete with eCommerce. Of course, for this transformation to happen, local businesses need to collaborate and compete. 

These businesses need to act in unison and get onto a Digital Commons powered by a digital public infrastructure like IndiaStack. Lo and behold! LCommerce is born. Doing so creates a new vector of growth for the local economy through creation of jobs in data analytics, AR/VR, artificial intelligence, and blockchain among others. Jobs would stay put in the smaller cities and not migrate to the usual locations of Bangalore or Hyderabad. 

Of course, you may ask why LCommerce and how would India benefit? The trick is to achieve digital parity between big cities and smaller ones and towns. LCommerce would enable use of local data and the catalysing of synergies through network-based peer to peer organization. In other words, we would see decentralized eCommerce platforms optimized for local sustainable living. A model that could help the world transition into more resilient circular local economies from the existing linear global supply chain model. 

What do I mean by that? LCommerce is an online presence for sellers and producers of all kinds and optimized for logistics in the local area. This will lead to true portability. Just like my mother can call my Airtel number from her Jio connection, a buyer on Amazon should be able to reach a product/merchant on LCommerce. 

The eCommerce race then goes from “Winner takes all” to “Everyone wins”. LCommerce is then a locally rendered Digital service that aims to facilitate better leverage of the local information.

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