Mukesh Ambani’s plan to move a part of Reliance Industries’ retail division into the e-commerce space has been known for a long time. The first sector of RIL to tap into India’s huge online retail space will be grocery. It plans to offer express deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to homes in Mumbai, making it the first such bid to bridge the last-mile connect by a large retailer. This is just the first step by India’s largest private sector company to expand into a highly competitive space that’s been dominated by a couple of entities for a long time. The potential of e-commerce combined with the network of physical store locations will therefore offer choice and convenience at a great value to the consumers
The idea to start an online store in not new; in fact, Reliance had been testing out this exact thing at its corporate office in Navi Mumbai for some time. Over the past year or so, its 10,000 employees there have been buying home care, personal and pharmaceutical products along with food through the Reliance Fresh-Project Direct website. Over the course of time, Reliance will start selling consumer electronics including mobile phones online.
Mukesh Ambani’s Grand Plan:
Mukesh Ambani has set some ambitious goals for Reliance during his latest annual general meeting address. First off, his highly awaited 4G venture, Reliance Jio is undergoing intensive testing to ensure flawless performance when it’s launched in 2015. As such, he wants Reliance Jio to be at the intersection of telecom, web and digital commerce.
“RIL is working on a few specialised e-commerce ventures and a comprehensive marketplace model. Grocery, electronics and apparel will be the specialised sites,” said the person cited above. Separate online teams are working on specialised verticals in close tandem with those who look after brick-and-mortar stores, said the person cited above. Reliance will be one of the few large corporate houses to venture into the $2 billion annual online retail market, which is expected to quadruple in the next four years. The Reliance strategy is to open with a full range of food and grocery products at competitive prices to stand out amid the clutter. While grocery sales will be rolled out in urban markets one at a time, electronics will be launched nationwide, the person said.
Also on the radar is the quest to make the company’s consumer electronics and IT (CDIT) inventory distinct and exhaustive. In his address, Ambani was quoted as saying, “Organised retail in India is witnessing a new surge of optimism. Having invested in retail talent development and state-of the-art retail infrastructure, we are in a unique position to capitalise on the growing opportunity in India.”