To leverage the country’s fast growing e-commerce space, the West Bengal circle of the postal department has approached various industrial bodies with a plan to create an online marketplace for the local traders.
A senior official of India Post at Kolkata GPO told PTI that since e-commerce is a sunrise industry, it is trying to earn higher revenue in the region by involving local traders and business houses.
“For that we are planning to take the help of chambers of commerce present in Kolkata as well as Howrah and other districts,” the official said.
India Post has already written to the Bengal Chambers of Commerce requesting it to arrange for an interaction between the Postal officials and local traders, official sources said.
“We have send a proposal to the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry basically to arrange an interactive session with traders and financial houses here. We will also seek help from other chambers in the city and those in Howrah and other districts,” a source said.
The source said that though the aim was to rope in local traders irrespective of their business volumes, big business houses are also welcome.
“We want everybody to join us in our venture in the e-commerce market. At the moment most of the e-commerce companies neglect the moffusil areas, villages and distant parts of the country. India Post’s wide reach to any corner can bring dramatic changes to the whole e-commerce industry,” he pointed out.
India Post is creating a special cell to cater to this need, the source said.
“Immediately we are not looking for any profit. But we know that revenues will grow with time. We have plans for free pick-ups. Because consumers don’t want to make an upfront payment, there will be added capabilities like Cash On Delivery and reverse logistics. We are working on a software to start the COD service,” one of the sources said. On developing infrastructure for the project a senior officials at Kolkata GPO said, “India Post aims to be the centre of the country’s ongoing e-commerce revolution with an investment plan of around Rs 100 crore in the next couple of years to set up warehouses for the packaging purpose.”
The department currently enjoys an 89 per cent penetration in rural areas across the country.
“At the moment we are not thinking of competition, but we are focusing on rural areas where we have the best reach compared to any other entity,” an official said.
He pointed out that though India Post is likely to face competition in metro cities, in small towns, suburban and rural areas it would be better placed because of the department’s maximum presence.
“A small trader in Nadia with a customer in Andamans need not to worry about delivering orders. Now, he can take orders without any hesitation because India Post will deliver the product, be it the Andamans or the Himalayas. We will be aggressively doing this business,” he added.
Welcoming the move, Bengal Chamber of Commerce President Alok Roy said: “I think its a very good idea and a brilliant move by India Post. It should be good for the local traders and they must take advantage of this. And this will definitely bring in new life for India Post.”
“Chambers act as an interface between traders and organisations and we will be happy to help them interact with India Post. We would ensure that the message reaches the traders and the initiative works out successfully,” Roy said.
India Post, has already entered into a partnership with Amazon India and launched a pilot project.