In the early days of E Commerce development, the undersigned had been a great fan of the “Brick and Click” strategy for business development. The idea was to leverage the strength of the physical presence of a business with the business potential in the cyber society . It was also considered that this strategy would insulate the business from emerging competition in any one of these two domains and forces the challenger to also come up with a multi domain expertise. Some of services proposed by Naavi such as the CEAC, Cyber-Notice.com, etc are all trying to build themselves on this principle.
One of the developments that catches my eye now is the emergence of a mobile App named “Zopper”. This is an app which tries to challenge the hold that pure e-commerce players such as Flipkart have established in certain markets. It is an idea to leverage the “Reputation of Physical Presence” with the “Convenience of E-Presence”.
In simple terms, it is an aggregation service that enables the local stores find a presence on the e-space. Just as Practo gets doctors into the e-fold, Ola Auto gets the Autorikshaw drivers on the band wagon of mobile space, Zopper has the declared objective of bringing the local stores into the e-wagon. It is a good service to these less tech savvy retailers who otherwise need the assistance of an elaborate technical team to get onto the e/m-space.
(Disclaimer: This is not a promotion of Zopper app).
After the recent debacle of BJP in Bihar, I recall the number of times I have raised the issue of Chandrababu Naidu’s earlier experience of losing an electoral battle despite wonderful contribution in the IT space in Hyderabad. Even in future Modi’s Digital India dream will continue to face these challenges. The Land Acquisition Bill has already been grounded. The GST bill is unable to make progress. Congress will continue to oppose every progressive step that the Government initiates and soon the Congress will start attacking Modi’s Digital India project.
I have been warning the Government that if there is any large scale information security breach and losses to the common people through aadhar misuse or credit/debit/ATM card misuse, then the blame will be placed on this Government. I will not be surprised if the opposition parties arrange a major hacking attack of the JanDhan scheme beneficiaries just before 2019 Loksabha elections to discredit this program on which Modi places repeated emphasis.
Hence I feel that not focussing on proper strategies for the Digital India will be harmful to the future of Mr Modi and for the development of India. Such strategies will be both on the aspect of “Security” which I have been highlighting on “Secure Digital India” concept but also on what kind of business/Governance can be run on e-commerce/e-Governance platform and how.
I find Zopper type of Apps as a tool to ensure that the “FDI policy in retail” will not harm the local retailers. Similarly, the price rise of Rice and Dhal which was one of the factors that affected BJP along with Caste equations can also be tackled by a proper E-PDS policy implemented through Zopper type of network of retailers who can distribute Dhal and Rice at reasonable prices to the public (Including the middle class).
If properly implemented, the Government can implement a Public Distribution System for Middle Class (PDS-MC) as a separate system at fraction of the cost of the current Public Distribution System for BPL families which can continue in its present form. The PDS-MC can focus on such goods as the Middle Class families may require and offer it at a reasonable price with assurance of quality and reliability. It could be like the old concept of Janata Bazaar. The SMEs and Public Sector enterprises may use this platform for marketing their products in direct competition with the Flipkarts, Snapdeals, Amazons as well as the Big Baskets, Pepperfrys or Peppertaps. Once the network of the local stores on the e/m-space gets established, Government can even think of FDI in multi brand retail without any backlash from the market or the political adversaries.
Just as there is a disruption in the finance sector with the mobile wallets, let there be a revolutionary disruption in the retailing segment through the e-Janata Bazaars.
I am confident that if properly handled, these e-Janata Bazaars can work towards reducing the consumer price of essential commodities to the levels of 2014 when Mr Modi took over and restore the lost confidence in the Modi Government in part of the electorate.