CAIT backs Indian e-tailers conforming to local laws, benefitting Kiranas

NEW DELHI: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a traders’ body that represents millions of local Kirana stores, on Wednesday backed Indian e-commerce companies that help digitize local grocery stores as well as comply with Indian rules and regulations.

The body, which had in the past bitterly opposed foreign e-tailers such as Amazon, accusing them of killing small businesses with deep discounts, said it has never opposed e-commerce and had only propagated adoption of e-commerce by traders as an additional business avenue.

The statement comes days after Facebook invested Rs 43,574 crore (USD 5.7 billion) in Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms Ltd. The investment would lead to Reliance teaming up with the US giant to accelerate the launch of its JioMart e-commerce platform on Facebook’s WhatsApp application.

“India’s e-commerce is a vast market having a large potential for digitalization and as such entry of any entity including Reliance of having the vision to remain fairly competitive, complying with laws, rules, and regulations, not burning cash to capture the market and empowering small traders with digital technology, keeping data within the country” are welcome, CAIT said.

The body, which claims to represent 7 crore traders in the country, in an e-mailed response to questions sent by on its stand on Facebook-Reliance deal, said there is enough scope for any entity which follows these standards.

JioMart, an e-commerce venture of Reliance Retail, has already started interacting with customers on WhatsApp for grocery orders in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan on a trial basis. The customer initiates the interaction on WhatsApp, checks out the grocery order on the JioMart webpage, gets connected with a retail store on WhatsApp, and then the customer picks up the order from Kirana store.

” CAIT is committed to removing greatly vitiated business model of e-commerce in the country,” its national secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.

CAIT “expressed its happiness that some Indian entities are entering into India’s e-commerce landscape with a vision of inclusion and empowerment of millions of small merchants and Kirana shops through their technology platforms,” the statement said.

Commitment to work towards enabling the consumers to access the nearest Kirana shop who can provide products and services to their homes by transacting through e-commerce portals will be a game-changer which will not only keep the small Kirana shops relevant but increase their sales and enable them to effectively compete with e-commerce giants, it said.

CAIT, he said, has never opposed e-commerce but always propagated adoption of e-commerce by traders as an additional avenue for their business besides physical stores.

“However, the CAIT strongly stands against malpractices being adopted by e-tailers and flouting rules and regulations in order to kill the small businesses of India,” he said adding the traders’ body stands for digitization, up-gradation and modernisation of local grocery stores and anyone who can help do that is welcome.

CAIT said India is one of the largest consumer markets of the world and up-gradation and modernisation of existing retail trade of India has always been the mission of CAIT.

For the same, CAIT is all set to launch its “national e-commerce portal very soon which will be of the traders, by the traders, and for the traders.”

“In its pursuit of “Bhartiyakaran” (Indianisation) of Indian e-commerce business with a vision of focusing on India’s 7 crore micro, small and medium businesses, 12 crore farmers, 3 crore small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises, 1 crore transporters in the informal sector, CAIT welcomes every e-tailer in the country,” the statement said.

CAIT said it has always held the view that data of India captured by anyone should remain onshore and there should not be any compromise with data sharing.

Reliance’s billionaire owner Mukesh Ambani too has in past favoured data being stored locally.

“Fair competition has always been the essence of any business and obtaining the best products at competitive prices is the right of every consumer in the country. Enabling the traders particularly small merchants, Kirana stores, micro-businesses, farmers and logistic chain is always welcome,” CAIT said.

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