Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani could launch the offline-to-online ecommerce venture around Diwali, this year, according to a news report. The new ecommerce platform would link producers, traders, small merchants, brands and consumers with an O2O or hybrid sales model.
Reliance announced its ecommerce plans at last year’s annual general meeting and this year, the company is preparing for the launch with various acquisitions as well as expansion in the retail space.
The company plans to launch the ecommerce platform in two phases. First, a soft launch around Diwali, which would be followed by a full launch by December-January. Special Diwali discounts may also be offered to users, which seems to Reliance’s go-to strategy for new services as seen in the launch of Reliance Jio and JioFiber.
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According to the report in Mint, Reliance will list out the products and services online, but the customer has the option to pay for and pick up products from physical stores. This will enable the company to consolidate merchants to cater to the local demand, and eliminate some last-mile delivery challenges.
Reliance is looking at categories which have a consumption rate among users, which includes daily staples, grocery, household items and hygiene products. A key part of this equation would be tying up with Kirana stores as distribution points, which would enable hyperlocal deliveries and quick service time. “If you want grocery in 10 minutes, only your local kirana store can deliver that and Reliance Retail wants to be that for you,” one of the sources was quoted as saying in the report.
The company had also claimed Reliance Retail had crossed INR 1.3 Lakh Cr in revenue last year from its stores largely in Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns, which would be the primary target for the ecommerce business.
Under its pilot run for ecommerce, Reliance has activated delivery and product experience through its network of jio stores. Here, a customer can place an order online, and visit the local jio store to collect or return orders, or to experience the product in person.
The company aims to connect 30 Mn neighbourhood stores through its platform, Ambani said at this year’s annual general meeting on August 12, where the company officially launched JioFiber and a slew of digital services allied to the broadband service.
Reliance is likely to control the entire supply chain and hold inventory of products, which would allow it to have a price advantage over foreign-funded rivals Amazon and Flipkart, which are barred from controlling inventory under foreign direct investment (FDI) rules. With no foreign investors, Reliance does not have any such regulations to follow, and this could be its biggest competitive advantage in ecommerce.