Mumbai: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani took the first step to challenge global e-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart in India’s fast-growing market with the soft launch of his “new commerce" venture.
Reliance Retail Ltd, the retail arm of Reliance Industries Ltd, on Monday began sending invites to Jio telecom users for registering on the new venture named JioMart. Calling itself “Desh Ki Nayi Dukaan", JioMart will currently cater to online shoppers in the suburban Mumbai areas of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan.
A Reliance Retail official confirmed the launch, adding that the company would gradually scale up its presence.
“Yes, we have soft-launched our operations. All Jio users are sent invites to register to avail of preliminary discounts. Though it is currently only in three regions, we would be scaling it up further. The JioMart app will be launched soon," the official said on condition of anonymity.
JioMart is offering its users options to shop from 50,000-plus grocery products, free home delivery with no minimum order value, no-questions-asked return policy and an express delivery promise.
A spokesperson for Reliance Retail did not respond to emailed queries till press time.
New commerce is Reliance Retail’s offline-to-online initiative, which would link producers, traders, small merchants, brands and consumers through technology. The company has been working on its new commerce plan for nearly two years and currently runs neighbourhood stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesale, speciality and online stores.
The company official cited earlier said Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is currently looking at the consumption basket, which includes daily staples, soaps, shampoos and other household items.
The company is signing up local merchants offering them an online-to-offline (O20) marketplace, a business model pioneered by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Under the O2O model, a consumer searches for the product or service online but buys it from a physical store.
This allows the company to consolidate merchants, who in turn, will cater to local demand, but also help Reliance Retail save costs and enter areas outside the purview of online retailers.
Reliance Retail aims to connect as many as 30 million neighbourhood stores through the venture, Ambani said at the company’s annual general meeting on 12 August.