Gandhinagar/Mumbai: India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani on Friday said his company Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) will roll out its e-commerce platform to as many as 1.2 million retailers and store owners in Gujarat, as part of a massive nationwide plan that analysts said could pose a challenge to Walmart Inc.-controlled Flipkart, Amazon.com Inc., and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd-funded Paytm Mall.

Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail will launch a unique new commerce platform to empower and enrich our 12 lakh small retailers and shopkeepers in Gujarat, which are part of the over 3 crore community in India," Ambani said at the inaugural function of the Vibrant Gujarat Global summit in Gandhinagar.

Gujarat will kick off the pan-India Reliance e-commerce plans, Ambani said.

Ambani’s statement comes days after the government updated its regulations on foreign direct investment (FDI) in e-commerce, two of which have the potential to change the e-commerce play in India. First, FDI-funded online marketplaces can only act as technology platforms that connect independent sellers and buyers. They cannot sell, own or control inventory. Second, and more importantly, the guidelines that come into effect on 1 February prohibit such e-commerce platforms from entering into exclusive merchandise deals.

Reliance Industries, India’s largest company by market capitalization, wants to adopt an innovative online-to-offline (O2O) model, where a consumer is drawn into making online searches for purchases that are made in a physical store. RIL’s plan is to consolidate merchants under an e-commerce platform. These merchants, in turn, will cater to the demand from untapped markets. This will help the company save on costs by avoiding the discounting game and penetrate areas currently outside the traditional purview of e-commerce companies.

Reliance Industries, India’s largest company by market capitalization, wants to adopt an innovative online-to-offline (O2O) model, where a consumer is drawn into making online searches for purchases that are made in a physical store. RIL’s plan is to consolidate merchants under an e-commerce platform. These merchants, in turn, will cater to the demand from untapped markets. This will help the company save on costs by avoiding the discounting game and penetrate areas currently outside the traditional purview of e-commerce companies.

RIL has a formidable physical presence in the country with 4,000 Reliance Retail stores, about 50 warehouses and 4,000 Reliance Jio outlets, which will be scaled up to 10,000 over a period of time.

“In this new world, data is the new oil. Data is the new wealth. India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations," Ambani said. “For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India, in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian," he said.

“In this new world, data is the new oil. Data is the new wealth. India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations," Ambani said. “For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India, in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian," he said.

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The matter has led to intense lobbying. While Indian companies want data stored locally, foreign firms such as Google and Facebook are against this.

The matter has led to intense lobbying. While Indian companies want data stored locally, foreign firms such as Google and Facebook are against this.

“E-commerce is not about products. If you look at Amazon’s success, it is more about B2B than B2C. Using Reliance Jio, RIL has already created a super highway. Now they have to ride on this to create online e-commerce," said Piyush Kumar Sinha, a retail expert and director of CRI Advisory and Research.

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