The virtual retail battleground is about to heat up as Mukesh Ambani gets ready to venture into the realm of online shopping portals hitherto dominated by Amazon and Flipkart, writes Devashish Chakraborty.
Following the success of Reliane Jio, which radically transformed the telecom industry in home nation India and almost decimated the market presence of all other formidable telecom giants, Reliance industries, headed by Asia’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani, is now ready to take the arena of Indian e-commerce by storm. The tycoon, who is always on the lookout to expand the conglomerate’s operating zone, has now decided to carve a niche for the Reliance Group, whose mainstay is oil refining, by fortifying a dominant position in India’s rapidly burgeoning online consumer goods and services business.
Streamlining the door-step delivery of groceries
In a bid to capture the grocery and other household consumables market, RIL recently launched the virtual shopping platform, Jiomart. In fact, two of its subsidiaries, Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio, have commenced the process of inviting people to register online for the new online grocery delivery service. The platform is still in its experimental stage, and it has currently been launched on a small scale with its services presently restricted to online shoppers residing in three suburban areas of Mumbai. It goes without saying that if this online B2C service achieves popularity, then its reach will be widened to encompass the complete geographical confines of India.
This platform, instead of providing and delivering the goods itself, will instead only serve as a common virtual meeting ground for offline grocery sellers and the customers seeking the most suitable shops selling the grocery items they need. This would ensure the express delivery of grocery items to customers’ doorstep. The company is confident about the success of this platform, whose app version is compatible with both iphones and android phones, for it is planning to tap its wide mobile phone customer base.
Monopoly in grocery delivery system
The grocery delivery system in India is still in the nascent stage of development, so there are hardly any worthy contenders to be taken into account. Moreover, it is being predicted that in the near future this is going to be a lucrative business prospect, and retailers having astute commercial foresight will be vying for the leading position in the market.
Although online retail behemoths, such as Walmart, Amazon and Flipkart having robust channels of distribution, will be on the lookout to claim the lion’s share of the potential profits, Ambani’s Reliance is bound to have an edge over its rivals for it already possesses millions of subscribers to its telecom networks. Coupled with this, it already has a chain of its own grocery stores and retail outlets selling a wide array of goods of international brands.
Another prominent factor in Reliance’s favour is that Amazon and Walmart being foreign companies are being halted from expanding freely by government laws providing protection to domestic business. Similarly, despite the presence of other Indian grocery delivery service providers, such as Big Basket, Reliance does not have much to be apprehensive about as the former are grappling with issues such as weak infrastructure, flawed mobile networks and stringent labour laws.
Ambani’s business acumen has proved to be flawless in the past, and Reliance Industries has always gained acclaim for usurping the lead position of any business that it enters and thus, it is expected to replicate its success once again.