Faced with the shortage of workers, Reliance Jio’s ambitious plan of delivering groceries through WhatsApp seems to be on hold for now, according to retailers which were earlier selling through the platform.
In April, JioMart went live on WhatsApp, a few days after the mega Facebook-Jio deal announcement. The grocery ordering facility was available in three areas in three suburbs near Mumbai — Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan.
For using the service, a user needs to save JioMart’s number 8850008000 on the smartphone and send a ‘Hi’ on WhatsApp. JioMart then used to send a link which redirects the users to an online marketplace. Currently, however, a ‘Hi’ on this number is replied with a message that JioMart’s website is active now and the users can buy directly from the online marketplace.
Jio had launched the JioMart website on May 23. The company is aiming to deliver grocery in around 200 cities across the country. For this, the company is opening up Reliance Points, small retail stores which can help the company to ramp up the omnichannel presence. The company is selling staples, food, home and personal care and general merchandise on the online marketplace.
On the JioMart website, users can place their orders which are usually delivered within a day. However, retailers, which were earlier active on the WhatsApp network of JioMart, had alleged that the company is now facilitating the orders through its own chain of Reliance Fresh, Reliance Point and other self-owned stores.
According to a report by Livemint, several retailers said the services have been suspended as they were unable to deliver orders. Most of the delivery partners and workers employed with the retailers have left the city due to the lockdown.
Due to this, JioMart reportedly told the retailers that the company is temporarily suspending the delivery of groceries through WhatsApp. According to Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd, there are key challenges faced by the company around delivery as Covid-19 has created issues on delivery fulfilment as well as timeline. Jefferies said that Reliance Retail has conveyed to the retailers that the shutdown is temporary and the operations are going to resume soon.
Currently, Reliance Retail is operating around 11,784 stores across more than 6600 towns and cities. Notably, more than two-thirds of the stores owned by the company are in Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities.