Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body of over 40,000 trade associations with a cumulative membership strength of eight crore traders, will launch its own e-commerce portal to compete with the likes of Amazon and Flipkart, next month.

The e-commerce platform Bharat eMarket (BeM) will have at least 75,000 sellers to begin with. It will offer products from 35 verticals of trade, including FMCG and consumer electronics verticals in the first phase.

The CAIT leadership is to meet on January 22 to finalise the launch plans, Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general at CAIT, said. The organisation is betting on the pan-India reach of its members to compete with the two well-established players. Together, Amazon and Flipkart have a network of 10 to 15 lakh sellers across India.

Khandewal says the idea to bring together CAIT's members on a digital platform has been there for several years now. "We have been closely observing the nitty-gritty and intricacies of e-commerce, the loopholes which are being exploited by the existing players, since 2011. In the last two years alone, we have done more than one dozen surveys within the trading community and also among the consumers to understand what the trader wants, and what the consumer wants. Bharat eMarket is being set up on the basis of this learning. We have analytics, data security in place," Khandelwal says.

CAIT, which has a long history of fight against the way existing online marketplaces get funded and operate through discounts, will not have any kind of foreign investment in Bharat eMarket. "Few trade leaders who are in the frontline of CAIT have put in money to support this initiative. Once it succeeds, we will ask the general traders to contribute in a way which will be decided later on," Khandelwal says. "We will be 100% compliant with the law. Whatever that is currently traded or serviced through online platforms in the country will be an integral part of the Bharat eMarket. Our tagline "mere liye, mere desh ke liye" reveals the intent of the traders of the country. This is going to be something different from what is seen across the globe as we will be operating with complete transparency, without charging any fee," he adds.

We have carried so many pilots, this portal would have been launched two years before if there was no Covid-19. We are giving it a final shape. That is why we will be launching it anytime in February.

Meanwhile, CAIT has called for a joint meeting of offline and online stakeholders of the e-commerce trade on January 27 at New Delhi to thrash out the issues related to e-commerce and submit its recommendations to the Ministry of Commerce to be considered while finalising the national e-commerce policy. "As a responsible trade organisation of the country, we have invited leading associations and prominent companies of all sectors connected with e-commerce to air their views and try to bring hygiene and transparency in the e-commerce landscape of India," CAIT leader says.

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