Mukesh Ambani Eyes India’s E-Commerce Race As ‘Biggest Opportunity’

Reliance Industries. Ltd. will rope in mom-and-pop stores for its e-commerce services, taking on Inc and and Walmart-backed Flipkart in India’s online retail market.

India currently has more than three crore small merchants and shopkeepers who provide the last-mile physical connectivity, Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said at the company’s annual general meeting. The biggest opportunity lies in creating a hybrid e-commerce platform that brings Reliance Retail Ltd. and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. together, he said. Dubbing it the ‘Bharat-India Jodo’ programme, Ambani said the platform will leverage mom-and-pop stores as fulfillment points.

That comes when global retail giant Walmart Inc. entered India’s e-commerce race by acquiring a majority stake in Flipkart as it takes on Amazon in India. They have a network of warehouses and fulfillment centres across India to deliver everything from mobile phones to soaps. Offline retailers like Avenue Supermarts Ltd., the parent of DMart, and now Reliance Retail are betting on the network of kirana stores to increase their delivery reach.

These shopkeepers will be able to manage inventory, keep digital records and file returns, improve working capital management, access new customers, run promotion and loyalty programs, and link to Reliance Industries’ supply chain, Ambani said. The duality of the platform will lie in a customer’s ability to use it both online and offline, he said.

“We shall create this by integrating and synergising the power of Reliance Retail’s physical marketplace with the fabulous strengths of Jio’s digital infrastructure and services,” Ambani said.

The platform will bring together 35 crore and growing customer footfalls at Reliance Retail stores and the 21.5 crore and growing Jio users, he said.

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