Game changer in India’s e-com biz: Reliance bet on FMCG firms for doorstep delivery

By Jit Kumar
Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries

Reliance Industries, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is in talks with some fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in this country to deliver daily use domestic essentials at the doorsteps of consumers, The Indian Sun has learned.

The development comes in the wake of Facebook’s decision to invest USD 5.7 billion in Reliance Jio, the telecom unit of the conglomerate, days after the social networking site’s chat service WhatsApp’s tie-up with Reliance’s e-commerce venture JioMart to make consumers connect with local groceries to buy products.

Sources say Reliance has initiated talks with a few FMCG companies so as to persuade them to list on JioMart’s webpage, given the fact that the e-retailer has already started connecting with customers on WhatsApp for grocery orders from local shops in various places on the outskirts of Mumbai.

If the talks with these FMCG companies fructify, experts believe, the entire move will change the face of India’s e-commerce space for ever, given the country’s e-commerce market is estimated to touch USD 200 billion by 2027. This also assumes significance given WhatsApp is about to launch an e-payments service in India, they say.

“The deal with WhatsApp gives JioMart access to 400 million users of the social media platform. Now, if the company can rope in some FMCG companies, then it will give a new shape to consumers’ choice post-Covid-19 lockdown when many people may not like to visit shops and supermarkets for essentials and would like them to be delivered at doorsteps, that too, at reasonable prices,” says Prof B.K. Dasgupta, a consumer behaviour analyst based in Delhi.

Launched in 2016 Jio has till date attracted some 370 million subscribers to its network. Moreover, according to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the number of internet users in India is likely to grow to 850 million in 2022.

“Reliance aims to be debt-free by 2021 and this foray into consumer business on Jio’s base, moving from its core oil exploration and refining sector, will be a big step forward for the company. Reliance aims to rule the India’s consumer market of the future, taking on giants like Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart in the e-commerce space. This will also help many small cap FMCG companies to survive the post-Covid onslaught when consumer demand is likely to fall,” adds Dasgupta.

Last week, Facebook announced its deal to invest USD 5.7 billion in Jio, which will make it Reliance’s largest minority shareholder, with a 9.99% stake.

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