Commerce and Information have a long history together. A chokehold of Information and Logistics in supply chains have sparked great changes in society including triggering the sea-faring ways of the European countries which is singularly responsible for the current Globalized world.
History of commerce
Information (where, what, who, when, how much) and Logistics (how) are interwoven. Commerce in the pre-computer age was driven by a network of human relationships oiling the chain from producer to consumer. The advent of the computer completely changed the dynamics between the Producers, Traders, and Retailers.
One battle that was fought in the 1970s and ’80s in the USA and won by the retailers is instructive to the future of commerce in the Digital Age. Retailers started insisting that all products have a standardized barcode. Over just a few years, the balance of power shifted from the large manufacturers to the retailers to the point that by the 1990s, even medium-sized retailers could reject products with faulty barcodes. Before that, the salesman of the large brand told you exactly how much of what product to buy and store on your shelves if you were a retailer and the retailer had no option but to comply.
Empowering Local Trade
Modern Trade that emerged from this battle became the largest corporations in the USA in the ’80s since they had the best access to consumer preference information and had found a way to use it for their competitive advantage. Then came the Internet and eCommerce who took the Information advantage to an altogether new level further accelerated by advances in IoT, Deep Learning, and Cloud Computing in the recent past.
What does this history have to do with Local Trade-in small towns like Udupi and many other places with populations of 1L or more across India? That’s because the answer to how Local Trade can compete with Modern Trade and eCommerce lies in the effective capture and use of Information.
To do this, Local Trade needs to act as one united force and bring themselves together on a Digital Commons powered by Digital Public Infrastructure like IndiaStack. This is what LCommerce is all about. Doing this also enables a new vector of growth for the Local Economy. That is the creation of high-quality jobs enabled by Data analytics, AR/VR, AI, and Blockchain in the local area rather than these jobs being shipped away to cities like Bangalore. This has a trickle-down effect into jolting other parts of the local economy into innovation too.
What is LCommerce and Why Should India Adopt this Model?
Once digital parity is achieved through LCommerce, effective use of local data and the catalysing of synergies through network-based peer to peer organizing can result in LCommerce (Definition of LCommerce: Decentralized eCommerce Platforms optimized for Local Sustainable Living) becoming a Global best practice for the world transitioning into resilient circular local economies from the current linear global supply chain model.
LCommerce is essentially interconnected Open Commerce Marketplaces that are locally run for the benefit of local communities. An online presence for sellers and producers of all kinds and optimized for logistics in the local area. This will lead to true portability. Just like my mother can call my Airtel number from her Jio connection, a buyer on Amazon should be able to reach a product/merchant on LCommerce. The eCommerce race then goes from “Winner takes all” to “Everyone wins”. LCommerce is then a locally rendered Digital service that aims to facilitate better leverage of the local information. LCommerce is Digital and behaves like eCommerce but is not eCommerce in a fundamental way. LCommerce doesn’t alter data ownership whereas eCommerce owns all the information that it touches.
LCommerce is an implementation of Decentralization that not just makes business sense in the post-pandemic world, but also provides a pathway to a more equitable, distributive, circular, high-velocity economic system.
The post-pandemic world has woken us up to the inherent frailties in our Global supply chain and the need for local action. Inventing a new Producer win, Trader win, Consumer win model for the rapidly digitizing world and creating sustainable development opportunities in the over 500+ locations with India with populations greater than 1L people is a very achievable goal with LCommerce.