Reliance Retail has started the pilot phase of its new commerce initiative, according to the company’s latest shareholder presentation. The differentiated business model will provide a technology platform for millions of small merchants across India to strengthen and grow their business, the company added.
The new tech platform is said to drive efficiency and value creation for all players in India’s retail market — particularly producers, brand owners, supply chain players, merchants and customers.
In 2018, Reliance had announced its foray into the ecommerce space with a hybrid online-offline model. Under this plan, the company had claimed to bring together 350 Mn customer footfalls at Reliance Retail stores, 307 Mn Jio connectivity customers and 30 Mn small merchants all over India who provide the last-mile physical market connectivity.
Reliance’s Hybrid Ecommerce Plans
Later, Reliance Retail was also reportedly planning to use over 5.1K Jio point stores located across 5K cities and towns as delivery and collection points for its ecommerce venture.
In order to reach the 95% of the Indian population, the company was said to be setting up ecommerce kiosks at Jio point stores to allow potential buyers to place orders online with the help of the store executives. This initiative was earlier expected to begin in April 2019.
These kiosks are said to be similar to the government’s egovernance kiosks that help citizens pay bills online and avail other services. The Jio point stores were launched in 2017 with an aim to expand the company’s retail services to rural areas including Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns.
While speaking at the 41st annual general meeting (AGM) last year, Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani had also said that Reliance Retail will have a bigger opportunity in the ecommerce market by creating a hybrid online-offline model.
“Our new commerce platform will redefine retail in India by enabling all customers ─ rich or poor, whether at home or on mobile ─ to transition from simple shopping to personalised Immersive shopping experience,” he added.
Reliance Goes On An Acquisition Spree
Ambani had then also shared plans of leveraging Reliance Retail’s deep insights into Indian customers, large local presence, and best-in-class supply chain for the development of this new commerce platform. The company will invest in the best data analytics engines using artificial intelligence to bring a powerful offering to all consumers, merchants and small businesses, he added.
Earlier this year, Reliance has also been aggressively acquiring new-age technology startups such as personal assistant chatbot Haptik, logistics startup Grab, software firm C-Square, vernacular language-as-a-service platform Reverie Language Technologies, Indian government schemes/services aggregator EasyGov, and a multiphysics simulation service SankhyaSutra Labs. It was also speculated to be investing or acquiring Fynd.
According to the latest company announcement, Reliance Retail has a turnover of over 100K Cr in FY2019 and has more than 10K stores across India. The company attributed this growth in revenue to be primarily driven by aggressive store addition and spurt in same-store sales.
The company claimed to be growing at a rate of nearly 10 stores per day in the last two years. Reliance Retail is said to have added a total of 2.8K stores to its tally during FY 2018-19. As on March 31, 2019, Reliance Retail recorded 10,415 operational retail stores in over 6.6K Indian towns and cities.