How the Meta-ONDC Partnership Will Enhance Small Businesses

How the Meta-ONDC Partnership Will Enhance Small Businesses
How the Meta-ONDC Partnership Will Enhance Small Businesses

India's burgeoning digital landscape has witnessed a tectonic shift with the formation of social media giant Meta and the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) partnership. This strategic alliance aims to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by leveraging the strengths of both platforms: Meta's user-friendly communication tools and ONDC's open network for digital commerce. In a nation where over 60 million businesses fall under the MSME category, this collaboration holds immense potential to bridge the digital divide and propel their growth.

Both Meta and ONDC are set to collaborate on comprehensive capacity-building initiatives, integrating social media expertise, AI-driven tools, and an open technology network architecture. The goal is to create an equitable platform for the multitude of MSMEs engaged in digital commerce.

Thampy Koshy, the Managing Director and CEO of ONDC, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, deeming it transformative for small businesses in India. He anticipates that this collaboration will furnish them with essential tools and resources, enabling them to compete effectively in the digital economy and expand their customer base.

Elevating Conversational Experiences on WhatsApp
Digital Upskilling for MSMEs
Impact and Potential
Perceptions, Challenges, and Opportunities
Guidance for Small Enterprises

Elevating Conversational Experiences on WhatsApp

Sandhya Devanathan, vice president of Meta India, highlighted the organization's commitment to skill-building for small businesses within the ONDC network. She emphasized Meta's dedication to training up to five million small businesses in the next two years through the Small Business Academy. The focus is on imparting digital marketing skills to foster their growth. Additionally, Meta plans to offer engineering support to business solution providers to create seamless buyer-seller experiences on WhatsApp integrated with ONDC. Devanathan also disclosed an ongoing collaboration with ONDC on refining their Sahayak Chatbot to streamline seller onboarding processes.

The ubiquity of WhatsApp, with over 500 million users in India, presents a unique opportunity for MSMEs to engage directly with customers. The partnership envisions building seamless conversational experiences within the app, blurring the lines between browsing and buying.

  • Streamlined Order Placement: Imagine ordering groceries or booking a service through a WhatsApp chat. Meta will equip businesses with tools to manage inventory, accept payments, and track orders seamlessly within the app. This eliminates the need for customers to switch between platforms, fostering a more intuitive and convenient shopping experience.
  • Personalized Customer Interaction: The partnership aims to leverage AI-powered chatbots to personalize interactions with customers. These chatbots can answer queries, provide product recommendations, and even process orders, offering round-the-clock assistance and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Building Trust and Community: WhatsApp groups offer a platform for MSMEs to connect with their target audience directly. Sharing product updates, running promotions, and hosting interactive sessions can foster a sense of community and trust, ultimately driving customer loyalty.

Digital Upskilling for MSMEs

The Meta-ONDC partnership goes beyond facilitating transactions. It recognizes the need for equipping MSMEs with the necessary digital skills to thrive in the online marketplace.

  • Meta Small Business Academy: This online platform offers a comprehensive curriculum tailored to the needs of small businesses. Courses on digital marketing, social media management, and e-commerce basics will empower MSMEs to navigate the digital landscape effectively.
  • ONDC's Onboarding and Technical Support: ONDC will provide technical assistance and support to MSMEs in integrating their businesses onto the open network. This includes guidance on cataloguing products, setting up payment gateways, and complying with regulations.
  • Collaboration with Local Solution Providers: Meta and ONDC plan to collaborate with local solution providers who can offer customized training and support to MSMEs in specific regions and industries. This ensures that the upskilling initiatives cater to the diverse needs of businesses across the country.
States with the Highest Share of MSMEs in India as of February 2023
States with the Highest Share of MSMEs in India as of February 2023

Impact and Potential

The combined reach of Meta and ONDC has the potential to revolutionize e-commerce for MSMEs in India. Experts estimate that the partnership could digitally upskill over 5 lakh MSMEs within the next two years, significantly boosting their online presence and unlocking new avenues for growth.

  • Increased Revenue and Customer Base: By eliminating friction in the shopping experience and fostering deeper customer engagement, the partnership can lead to increased sales and customer retention for MSMEs.
  • Level Playing Field: ONDC's open network allows MSMEs to compete with larger players on a level playing field. This democratizes access to online markets, paving the way for inclusive and sustainable growth.
  • Job Creation: As MSMEs expand their online presence, the demand for skilled digital professionals will rise. This will create new job opportunities in fields like e-commerce management, content creation, and data analysis, further boosting the economy.

Perceptions, Challenges, and Opportunities

Despite its immense potential, the Meta-ONDC partnership faces its share of challenges. These include:

  • Bridging the Digital Divide: A significant portion of MSMEs, particularly in rural areas, lack basic digital literacy. Addressing this gap requires concerted efforts from both public and private players.
  • Cybersecurity Concerns: As more businesses move online, cybersecurity threats become increasingly prevalent. Building robust security measures and educating MSMEs on cyber hygiene is crucial.
  • Evolving Regulatory Landscape: The Indian e-commerce landscape is constantly evolving, with new regulations and policies emerging frequently. Ensuring that MSMEs comply with these regulations will be critical for their long-term success.

ONDC: Transforming the Face of Indian eCommerce
In this article, we take a closer look at how ONDC is expected to transform the shopping experience and what room for improvement some participants see within the ONDC universe.

Guidance for Small Enterprises

When addressing recent trends in the Indian digital realm, Devanthan highlighted the unprecedented and sophisticated growth of the Indian internet, particularly through UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and digital public infrastructure. She also underscored the increasing presence of creators using platforms for self-expression, emphasizing India's potential as a global technology innovation and internet applications leader. Her counsel for small business proprietors venturing into digital commerce involves a continuous process of "Testing and Iterating" to adapt to the swiftly changing landscape. Additionally, she recommends making use of diverse skills, training opportunities, and policy initiatives while leveraging platforms to connect with global audiences.

Similarly, Thampy Koshy pointed out that Indian entrepreneurs are actively creating "Homegrown, Original Solutions" designed for both domestic and international markets, surpassing the mere replication of existing models. He stressed the significance of tapping into the potential offered by ONDC and Meta's resources for small businesses, enabling them to expand their customer bases. Koshy advised small businesses to view digital integration as an essential element for long-term success. He believes that ONDC and Meta's solutions will expedite capability-building efforts, empowering enterprises to cater to both national and global customers effectively.

What is MSME?


What advice do industry leaders offer to small businesses venturing into digital commerce?

The advice that industry leaders offer to small businesses includes continuously testing and iterating, embracing learning, going global, and integrating digital solutions.

How will the Meta-ONDC partnership benefit MSMEs?

The Meta-ONDC Partnership can benefit MSMEs in several ways:

  • Streamlined transactions
  • Personalized customer interaction
  • Building trust and community
  • Digital upskilling

What are the goals of the Meta-ONDC partnership?

The Meta-ONDC partnership aims to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India by leveraging the strengths of both platforms.

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