Over a month after JioMart went live on WhatsApp, a shortage of delivery personnel at local kiranas in the Mumbai suburbs of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan has stalled the ambitious pilot run of Reliance Industries Ltd’s online grocery business to connect millions of small provision stores to customers across India.
Confirming the development, owners of several kirana stores, which were roped in by JioMart for the project, said the services have been suspended as they were unable to deliver orders. “JioMart told us the orders will be stopped for a few weeks. Therefore, we have stopped taking orders," said the owner of a supermarket in Mumbai’s Kharghar, which is part of the pilot. Reliance Retail, the retail arm of Reliance Industries Ltd, meanwhile, is servicing customers through its own stores, the person added. On 23 May, the firm launched its own website, jiomart.com, with an aim to service 200 cities. Reliance Retail runs neighbourhood stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesale, specialty and online stores. It sells staples, food, home and personal care, besides general merchandize.
To order on WhatsApp, customers need to first add the JioMart number to receive a link on the chat window, which is valid for 30 minutes. The user will then have to follow the directions to access the products catalogue. Once the order is placed, the list is shared with the local stores for doorstep delivery. Reliance Retail did not reply to an email sent this morning.
“Key challenge has been around delivery as covid-19 has created issues on delivery fulfilment as well as timeline," said Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd in a report on 8 June.
Jefferies’ channel checks indicated that JioMart ordering via Whatsapp stopped in the past two weeks.
Jefferies said Reliance Retail has informed most retailers that the shutdown is temporary and operations will resume soon. Reliance Retail operates 11,784 stores across 6,600-plus towns and cities, more than two-thirds of them in tier-2, 3 and 4 towns. It had launched the online venture at a time when online grocers were seeing explosive demand following the curbs on movement during the nationwide lockdown. The B2B business, however, continues to service retailers.