Tuesday 16 June 2015

How Ambani’s Reliance can shake up e-commerce in India

"With the advanced internet infrastructure built by Jio, and a robust physical retail built by Reliance Retail, we will create a differentiated e-commerce model for India. This model will see seamless integration of online and offline while innovating across superior customer experience, delivery services and payment ecosystem."

When India's biggest taxpayer in the Private Sector says this, eyes turn, jaws drop and calculators click into action. As of now Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart have been market leaders in the Indian e-commerce labyrinth. Reliance with its multi-channel integrated e-commerce strategy dares to challenge that. After all, nobody in India has that kind of a reach or money power.

The end of year would see the launch of Reliance Trends website, and with the Jio service available in around 18,000 cities and towns, payment gateways and wallets would be accessible on smartphones.

That's all cool, but are the Ambanis catching up a little too late now that the Flipkarts are off to a flying start with overseas investors pouring in serious moolah?

Experts beg to differ. "Reliance is in a far stronger position to retain the interests of the consumers in terms of the products and services they offer", Arvind Singhal, Chairman, Technopak says.

There have also been concerns that the Ambanis with their 3 quarters of a billion dollars investment might squelch the lower rung for good. After all, how do you compete with a giant that claims to have grown 30% in the last 5 years and sprouts 5 new stores every 2 days that sell 1, 50, 000 garments per day on an average?

"Reliance will further expand the market for e-commerce and create new opportunities in the country. It will not kill the small players unless they're looking to set up online marketplaces as well. In the current scenario there is no shortage of funding even for the smaller players", Singhal says.

The seeds of e-commerce have just been sown in the country's fertile ground of $550 billion. While most players have bought chips worth a couple of billion dollars, there is no doubt Reliance would be a formidable player when the wheel spins.

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