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ONDC to go live in Delhi next month, Mumbai to follow

The beta launches will focus on hyperlocal grocery and food deliveries in select pin codes in Delhi and Mumbai.

Sowmya Ramasubramanian

Ishan Patra

ONDC to go live in Delhi next month, Mumbai to follow

Friday October 07, 2022 , 5 min Read

The Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC) is set to go live in select pin codes in Delhi as early as next month, followed by Mumbai shortly after, according to two people privy to the plans.

Buyers will initially be able to place orders for groceries and food in Delhi starting in November as part of ONDC's gradual rollout of its services across the country. The government-backed digital commerce protocol was launched in beta mode across 16 pincodes in Bengaluru last week, the first public rollout after months of testing with select users across cities.

Users would also be able to order electronics, fashion products, and home decoration items by the end of the year, according to the people familiar with ONDC's plans.

"The speed of scaling depends on the capabilities of the logistics firms to carry out inter-city deliveries," said one of them. They added that logistics partners Ecom Express, Ekart, and Grab will also be operational in these cities starting in November. At present, LoadShare and Dunzo are helping fulfil hyperlocal deliveries in Bengaluru.

Meanwhile, in Bengaluru, sellers are cautiously trying to understand the new system.

Around 10:30 am last Friday, Deepak Kumar R, who runs a 10-year-old supermarket in Bengaluru’s Murgeshpalya area, received his first ONDC order through Paytm. A client two kilometres away ordered a packet of biscuits costing Rs 50.

He changed the status of the order from ‘received’ to ‘pending’ and instructed his staff to pack the order. Within 30 minutes, a delivery executive from logistics service LoadShare arrived at the store to pick it up and the biscuits were delivered to the customer in the next 15 minutes. Deepak then changed the order status to ‘completed’.

So far, the novel ecommerce effort has largely been a hit. The total number of orders is increasing by up to 30% day on day, according to one of the persons quoted above. Close to 170 orders were logged on the first day itself, this person said. So far, at least 60% are for groceries and the rest for food.

ONDC has not responded to official queries at the time of publication.

While daily orders are said to be on the rise, owners of small stores (kiranas) are still trying to navigate the new system. Jaya Prakashan, the owner of Aashirvaad Home Needs in Domlur, said that his store has been receiving less than five orders a day. Two other kirana stores in the area reported similar numbers.

Order values remain at Rs 100-200 in most stores likely because access to ONDC’s service through buyer-side apps like Paytm and Mystore is limited to select users at the moment. The feature is expected to be rolled out to all users in a phased manner.

But awareness among buyers has certainly increased. P. B. Rosbin, who runs Green Mart in Indiranagar, said that several buyers from outside the 16 pincodes have approached him to understand how they can place orders through ONDC. “I am expecting a greater number of orders once all users can access the feature,” he said, noting that he received most of the orders from within a three-kilometre radius.

The average time taken to deliver grocery orders is anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, according to Brij Purohit, Co-founder of ecommerce enablement firm Sellerapp.

ONDC interface

ONDC's interface on Paytm

The story is similar for sellers. Rosbin noted that several neighbouring shop owners, who have been reluctant to go digital, are also curious about ONDC. Many of them have enquired about how to get on the platform. 

Sellers are also making note of glitches and difficulties. Deepak Kumar R, who has been running a supermarket for the last 10 years, says that the interface has a basic build at present and is missing some crucial features.

For instance, the shop owner has to match the delivery code linked to a particular order with the code on the package while handing it over to the delivery executive. This is sometimes difficult as the code often gets hidden in the myriad of numbers displayed on the interface and delays deliveries.

“It has taken me a week to get used to the process but I’m hoping the interface will be made easier to use with time,” Deepak said.

“Orders haven’t increased daily but there is increased visibility for the stores using ONDC,” he said. Seller-side apps like SellerApp are helping partner stores market their presence on ONDC by putting up hoardings outside the stores.

There also seems to be increased interest from both big and small stores that want to make a digital footprint for the first time. Jaya Prakashan of Aashirvaad Home Needs said he was always reluctant to tie up with delivery platforms like Dunzo and Swiggy Instamart as he wasn’t digitally savvy.

But the backing of the government in the ONDC initiative is creating trust in many sellers like him. Although Jaya Prakashan still requires assistance from the younger staff in operating the web-based system, he is open to trying the feature for at least another few months.

All in all, ONDC's first week seems to have had a decent start. Sellers, especially, remain hopeful that the next few months will bring several changes to how ecommerce is conducted in the city. Buyers too are curious about how they can try their hands at the novel experience.

Edited by Feroze Jamal and Saheli Sen Gupta