Addressing the challenges in new- age digital commerce

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Addressing the challenges in new- age digital commerce

  • India’s consumer behaviour has experienced a radical transformation: the rise in smartphone use fuelled by affordable data plans has catalysed an online revolution in the country. The novel coronavirus pandemic has further accelerated the process of digital inclusion.
  • These realisations have given India the opportunity to disrupt the status quo with its innovative abilities. Systems such as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Aadhaar, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission have reengineered markets.

Centralisation of e-commerce: plight of small sellers:

  • Driven mostly by big players.
  • Small enterprises such as local kirana stores have not gained from this growth in digital commerce because, to sell on numerous platforms, sellers must maintain a separate infrastructure, which only adds costs and limits participation.
  • The distinct terms and conditions of each platform further limit the sellers’ flexibility.
  • Consequently, small and medium sized businesses have lost their freedom to choose and participate in the country’s e-commerce system at their will and on their terms.
  • The platforms (like amazon, flipkart, big basket, myntra etc) have become more powerful than the actual supplier of goods.

Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC)

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has now established the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to level the playing field by developing open e-commerce and enabling access to small businesses and dealers.
  • The ONDC network makes it possible for products and services from all participating ecommerce platforms to be displayed in search results across all network apps.
  • This achieves the dual objective of wider choice for consumers on the one hand and access to a wider consumer base for sellers on the other.

Dispute resolution mechanism:

  • It is imperative to support the ONDC initiative with a modern day, cost effective, timely and high speed dispute resolution system.
  • The framework must adequately and efficiently cater to facets such as participants residing or operating in different geographic regions and the mass prevalence of low value online transactions.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR):

  • It has the propensity to work alongside the incumbent setup and deliver quick, affordable and enforceable outcomes.
  • The ODR is not restricted to the use of legal mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration in an online environment but can be tailor made for the specific use case keeping the participants in mind.

Benefits of ODR:

  • Making dispute resolution simple
  • Handling complex multi party disputes
  • 24x7 accessibility from the remotest regions
  • Availability in regional languages
  • Enabling a safe and secure online infrastructure
  • Ensuring minimal touchpoints
  • An enhanced user experience- building trust, confidence and brand loyalty among consumers
  • Mitigate litigation risk: The courts and consumer forums can do away with matters which do not warrant their intervention, thus easing the judicial logjam.
  • Provide valuable insights into problems faced by consumers
  • Consumers provided with another choice for effective redress of their grievances


  • Online dispute resolution (ODR), along with policy measures on digital/ electronic commerce, can help India tap the potential of this sunrise sector, and help us move towards $ 5 trillion economy.