It was in 2016, Mukesh Ambani the Indian business tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited launched Jio in Indian telecom market. Within three and half years, Jio Infocomm became the biggest telecom service provider in India with 388 million susbcribers, bagging 32 percent of the market share way ahead of rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea. Now the Jio platform is expanding to the E-commerce market of India with a companion, Facebook – largest social media platform.
JioMart is the online to offline business platform under Reliance Industries Limited where customers can place orders online but purchases products offline, from their nearest local retail stores. It was launched in early January 2020 and company described it as “Desh ki Nayi Dukaan”.During the Covid-19 lockdown it started its operation in some parts of Mumbai.
Jio and JioMart became a buzzing word during the lockdown time when Facebook the social media behemoth invested $5.7 billion (RS.43,574) in the Jio Platform which accounts for about 9.99 percent of the stake. Soon after the Facebook’s investment, American private equity giant Silver Lake Partners bought 1% of the stake for $750million and Vista Equity Partners picked up a 2.3% stake for $1.5 billion. Jio Platform announced investments worth $8 billion in the last week of April. The new initiative by Mukesh Ambani is to make the Reliance industries Limited completely debt free by next year 2021.
JioMart works in India along with the famous social media platform of Facebook ‘WhatsApp’. India is the biggest market of WhatsApp and Reliance Retail is the largest retail player in the country. The combination of both these along with the brick and mortar stores in each corner of the country change the entire look of E-commerce business in India. E-commerce business in India started in 2007 with the launch of Flipkart, India’s first E-commerce website. Later Snapdeal entered in 2010 and Amazon enteredthe Indian market in 2013 and the E-commerce business in India saw competition between Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. Also, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has announced that it will launch ‘Bharat Market’– a new e-commerce platform for all retail traders in the Country. JioMart will be a game changer in e-commerce business and may dominate the market within limited amount of time as what we saw in telecom industry in the last three years.
Corona pandemic has already initiated the extensive use of digital services across the world. Government is also favouring digital economy and initiating the infrastructure developments for it. E-commerce is an important part of digital services but on comparing with other developed nations, India is still behind in it. The launch of JioMart may bring in e-commerce revolution in India and change the buying behaviour of Indian citizens within years but is this trend going to continue is a big question. Cash on delivery is the most preferred payment method in India on e-commerce activities but the use of digital wallets are increasing day-by-day .Facebook may launch WhatsApp pay in 2020 and this increases the use of contactless payments in JioMart. ‘JioMart is focusing on the 60 million micro, small, medium businesses, 120 million farmers, 30 million small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises in the informal sector in the nation’ Jio said in a statement.
‘Data is the new oil’, Mukesh Ambani had said during the launch of Jio in 2016 and now Jio is the biggest player in telecom industry. Will JioMart become a key player in post pandemic Indian consumer market? This remains to be seen.