Indian ecommerce is about to change forever. Reliance to take on Amazon, Flipkart, start operations in the summer
In Gujarat over the weekend, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani made an announcement that put to rest the speculation around when the group would step into one of the most fiercely fought turfs in the country. The idea is simple: to combine the offline retail network of Reliance Retail and the online reach of Reliance Jio to 12 lakh retailers to begin with (and that’s just in Gujarat).
One media report said that operations would be launched in April-May of this year.
The number of customer touchpoints is already huge: Jio has 280 million subscribers while Reliance Retail reportedly has over 10,000 points of sale. In addition, the company reportedly plans to use the lakhs of shops that sell Jio connections to fulfil orders in small towns.
If the Reliance Chairman’s plans are to be believed, this will not be the run-of-the-mill ecommerce. Earlier in the year, Ambani had outlined plans of using “augmented reality, holographic technology and VR devices”, creating what he described as a “personalised immersive shopping experience”.
The animated presentation behind him called it a “commerce platform to create shared prosperity”.
Earlier, on Friday, Ambani had announced plans to invest Rs 3 lakh crore in various projects in the next 10 years in Gujarat, that may range from energy and petrochemical to new technology and digital business.
For the past few months, media reports have talked about Reliance getting into ecommerce, specifically to take on Amazon India and the Walmart-owned Flipkart.
In December, the government had changed the rules to stop ecommerce players owned by foreign entities from selling via companies in which they owned the stake. The rules also say that these sellers cannot sell exclusively on the parent platform. The move affects both Flipkart and Amazon. Soon after, Flipkart’s Singapore based parent company, Flipkart Private Ltd Singapore, pumped in Rs 1,431 crore (about $201 million) into its Indian wholesale entity, Flipkart India Private Ltd, according to documents filed with Registrar of Companies (RoC).
Earlier on Friday, at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Ambani had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians. Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.