beckn at its heart is a decentralized open protocol, a way to reimagine digital commerce from the first principles. as the world’s first commerce protocol, beckn enables businesses to undertake e-commerce with ease and at their own command. today, small businesses, be it a local retail store or a mobility operator, are struggling to become internet-friendly. beckn is an effort to make the internet ‘small-business-friendly’. beckn allows for open and inclusive commerce sans the big gatekeepers, thereby democratising digital commerce.
beckn is an idea, a vision, which cannot be described as a tangible entity. it upholds the concept of democratizing an otherwise closed-up digital commerce system.
digital commerce today is built on the fundamental premise that for a buyer and a seller to interact with each other online, they need to be brought onto a central marketplace platform of a third-party intermediary. this platform-centric marketplace model works on an inherent assumption that the incentives of the platform intermediary (or a capitalist third-party) are aligned to those of the participating buyers and sellers. it also brings in the constraint of sellers and buyers being available only on a few big platforms. in all countries across sectors, be it e-commerce, urban mobility, logistics, telemedicine/e-healthcare or travel and hospitality, this conventional model of digital commerce is coming under review from participants, civil society and policy makers.
beckn protocol, is built as a set of lightweight, open, interoperable specifications that allows buyers and sellers to have the freedom to choose any digital application at their respective end to undertake commerce transactions between each other, with no platform in the middle. the beckn protocol is akin to the popular email protocol smtp (simple mail transfer protocol) which allows the sender and recipient of emails to use email systems/providers of their own choice with no actor in between to influence or control the email communication. the beckn protocol, built as a digital public good by a philanthropic organisation, enables creating a similar open and inclusive network of sellers and buyers allowing them to execute e-commerce orders over the network.
in very simple terms:
let’s take the example of an every day consumer product brand.
if colgate aimed to sell a lot of its toothpaste, would colgate open separate exclusive stores – a lot of them, and in almost every street? no! it instead makes sure its products are available on others’ stores where people come to shop, not just toothpaste but many other things.
similarly, beckn is a way for an online business to make its products and services available on other stores (popular daily use consumer apps) instead of setting up its own store (own consumer app) and waiting for customers to come, and expecting them to come in droves!
beckn aims to give an opportunity to small, medium and large businesses to truly take advantage of the openness of the internet.
beckn is setting out to render the inclusivity and democracy that was originally envisioned for the world wide web. a decentralized open-protocol system for digital commerce, much like https is for the internet. https is the digital grid of the internet.
smes need beckn so that they can have a fair chance at visibility to the masses, so that their products and services do not die a slow death, because the mass buyers have knowledge and exposure to only the bigger players in the market.
for small businesses:
imagine for example, if you are a local business owner, with a grocery store in the neighborhood block, which is accessible by a few hundred people living nearby, as they are the only ones with access and information about the kinds of goods you store and offer.
you can use beckn enabled software application to help you publish your catalogue, which can be shared online on an open network with millions of customers on any app consumer chooses to use for searching for stores like you, without them having to use your app or an app prescribed by you, looking for the specific goods available at your store. now, since you are only a store owner and lack the infrastructure to actually deliver these goods manually or through courier, you can use beckn enabled applications to connect you to the open network for specific service delivery partners who can ensure that your goods are delivered in good condition.
every single party involved in these transactions could be a beckn-enabled partner, who is benefitting from the network, just as much as you are.
for the buyers:
buyers can enjoy a lot more convenience, as they no longer need multiple apps for different requirements. with an application of their choice, they are provided with the most time-efficient solutions, granular information, about the availability and delivery time of goods and services, so that they can choose the most optimized solution for their needs.
for young entrepreneurs looking to establish e-commerce businesses:
the beckn protocol will allow such budding entrepreneurs to get access to millions of users, without having to spend marketing dollars in acquiring them. any one looking for a product like theirs, will be able to find them with ease, thus opening up opportunities for them.
beckn is not yet another e-commerce platform with the business model to maximize revenue and sales. beckn is not a platform or an app or a service provider or a digital directory or classifieds of any kind. beckn is a more open ended alternative to dependence on one or few platforms that brings buyers and sellers onto their platform. beckn as a way of common and open specifications wishes to give options to buyers and sellers to consider to taking charge of their own business online and discover each other on their command across wider network than from the confines of one mutual platform.
beckn is not an aggregator, it does not store any user information. instead, it allows your choice of software application to produce commands to access sellers or service providers as a customer and for the sellers to produce commands to receive and accept customer orders against your product catalog. as a customer, you are able to make informed decisions based on information that can help you make purchase decisions and the ability to discover options you didn’t know even existed!
once scaled, such an open commerce network enabled by beckn will allow any local commercial operation — from fleet operators to last-mile delivery services, from large department stores to your neighbourhood grocers — to leverage the power of the open internet for outcomes that are advantageous to all involved.