Will India’s ‘Buy Local’ Push Impact eCommerce?

The pandemic has spurred any number of efforts across various countries to restart economies as they emerge from lockdown.

For India, in particular, the coronavirus has exposed some challenges for eCommerce giants such as Flipkart and Amazon – and now, there’s a new initiative to spur consumers to “buy local.”

As noted in this space back in March, soon after a nationwide lockdown became official in India, district- and state-level restrictions tied to curfews (which hindered staffers from going out and making deliveries) closed fulfillment centers. The end result was that the delivery of even essential items became logistically difficult for these major players.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India’s consumers should be “vocal about local” goods and brands, and should consider buying items made within the country. The Economic Times estimates that global brands via multinationals are dominant in the country, with relatively few local alternatives. The Times cited examples where global firms accounted for more than 90 percent of India’s market in smartphones and televisions and 80 percent in washing machines, with a majority share of consumer staples such as skin creams and soaps.

And in one push to connect Indian consumers to “buy local” through online platforms, the website Inc42 reports that Patanjali Ayurved Ltd.’s website, known as OrderMe, seeks to get fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to consumers within a few hours.

Patanjali Managing Director and CEO Acharya Balkrishna told Inc42 that the efforts are in line with Modi’s “vocal for local” initiative. He said the platform will supply and endorse products made only by Indian companies.

In another salvo against Walmart and Amazon, earlier this month, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it would launch Bharatemarket, an eCommerce portal, in June.

As reported in The New Indian Express, the portal will focus on local retailers and grocery stores.

The push to “go local” comes as Modi has pushed an economic relief package worth $277 billion. One notable tenet of the package has been that, as Bloomberg reports, there is a $72 billion liquidity boost for small businesses and “shadow banks.” These firms employ more than 110 million people. The logic follows that keeping smaller firms in business provides consumers with steady paychecks, which then are used to buy goods and services. The lockdown has been extended for a third time, until the end of the month. The new platforms coming to market, with a distinctly local focus, may get a tryout – and, perhaps, may engage eCommerce giants on a new competitive front.



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