According to official statistics, the portal under the Commerce and Industry Ministry has 259,000 sellers and service providers combined. Three years and Rs. 28,710 cr worth of transactions after the Indian Government’s e-commerce platform, government e-marketplace (GeM), was launched in 2016, it has more than double the number of sellers than Flipkart,

Flipkart, the second-largest e-marketplace by gross sales now, doesn’t sell services. But its advertisement claims 100,000 sellers showcase their goods on the platform. However, GeM is yet to catch up on its basic task of digitising government transactions, estimated at an annual Rs. 5.5 tr. The official target remains Rs. 50,000 cr in 2019-20, ultimately hitting Rs. 1 trn worth of procurements by 2021.

More than 2.1 mn separate orders have been placed on the GeM portal till now, with 1.7 mn orders in 2018-19 itself, up from 300,000 orders in the preceding year, according to a report. All public sector agencies are mandated to directly purchase common-use goods and services through the online portal. While most states have signed a memorandum of understanding with the GeM authority, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh remain the largest buyers.

Many of these services and products have now been open to the more than 15,000 start-ups recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), and other start-ups keen to be a part of this ecosystem. More than 2,500 start-ups are reportedly on board. Interested start-ups had been asked to provide their products and services free of charge for a fixed period of about two-three months. Response from buyers on the platform will determine their long-term approval on the platform. According to DPIIT officials, the move favours smaller start-ups rather than the ones which have been in the news for their marquee fund-raising. Expanding the outreach of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) on the platform remained the first priority, according to a senior GeM official.

Seen as a step to woo small firms, the government has started offering credit facility to MSMEs on GeM through the Trade Receivables Electronic Discounting System (TReDS). It is a bill discounting service supported by Small Industries Development Bank of India for pre- and post-shipment of products. As small enterprises find it difficult to deal with payment delays, GeM is ensuring that this issue will be resolved for MSMEs, which can now avail the TReDs facility. The GeM platform is also being used to place orders for World Bank projects. MoUs have also been signed with 12 banks to facilitate payments.