The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the pan-India association of traditional brick-and-mortar trading entities, on Monday launched its own e-commerce platform, called ''e-Lala,'' as they take on the challenge of e-commerce companies.
The platform, www.e-lala.biz formally inaugurated by urban development minister Venkiah Naidu, targets to have 50,000 trading members in 100 cities by March 2016.
CAIT has tied up with MasterCard for the payment services on the platform, which accepts card and netbanking payments. The cash-on-delivery option is not available at present.
Calling the platform revolutionary, useful, constructive and a step towards Digital India, Naidu said, ''When we are moving towards digitalisation and computerisation, nobody can lag.''
The e-Lala platform will enable small businesses, including artisans, to display their products online through virtual stores. The portal will promote unique products of the city where it operates and consumers can post enquiries.
Inaugurating the event, Naidu said the portal will enable small traders with outreach and help them devise marketing strategies to counter the growing competition from e-commerce platforms.
The e-commerce portal, which will promote business-to-business and trader-to-customer transactions within a city, will help cut costs and move transactions online, helping around 57 million small businesses across the country.
The number of online-shoppers in India is expected to reach 100 million by the end of this year, compared to 35 million last year, while the value of online sales is estimated to reach Rs5,300 crore from Rs3,600 crore in 2011, according to CAIT data.
''We will have strict norms for KYC (know your customer), with Aadhar, VAT registration number and PAN card number, to make sure that only genuine traders participate on the platform,'' said Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT secretary-general.
CAIT has also partnered with MasterCard for an ambitious education and training programme to promote digitisation of payments among Indian traders, under which 1,000 traders have been trained in seven cities so far.
It is expected that this move would help MasterCard expand its base among the country's 58-million strong trading community, said Ari Sarker, Asia Pacific co-president of MasterCard.
''We bring safety and security to the payment system. With CAIT we will be able to scale up our merchant business.''
The portal's launch is in line with the central government's Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, launched in April, which aims to reduce borrowing costs for small businesses by providing refinancing at a relatively low 7 per cent rate of interest.
The government has asked banks to lend Rs122,000 crore under the scheme by the end of the current fiscal to small-scale entrepreneurs. These businesses account for nearly 45 per cent of the country's gross domestic product across manufacturing, services and trade.