Backed by multi-billion-dollar investments from global tech giants, India’s richest man is ready to rumble with Amazon and Walmart for the country’s huge e-commerce market through his conglomerate Reliance.
But it is far from certain that Mukesh Ambani’s latest gamble will pay off in a crowded market where many suppliers are not well-versed in digital business.
The mogul has long trumpeted his ambition to revolutionize retail in the country of 1.3 billion by convincing farmers and shopkeepers to sell their goods on his new JioMart platform launched this year.
But modernizing India’s creaky, inefficient supply chains will not be easy, even for Reliance, the nation’s largest retailer by revenue with a portfolio including supermarkets, electronics stores and fast-fashion outlets.
Google on Wednesday became the latest Silicon Valley player to invest in the digital unit of the Indian oil-to-telecoms juggernaut, following in the footsteps of Facebook and Intel.
These votes of confidence notwithstanding, Ambani’s success will depend on India’s mom-and-pop stores and their ability to adapt to the demands of an online business, analysts say.
Keeping bargain-hungry consumers satisfied in a fiercely contested market may be even harder.
Early signs have not been promising for JioMart since its roll-out in 200 Indian cities in May.
Customers have complained about everything from rotting vegetables to missing deliveries and delayed refunds.
An avid online shopper who buys electronics from Amazon and clothing from Walmart-owned retailer Myntra, Mehul Shah is the kind of customer much sought after by Ambani and his rivals.
The 22-year-old placed his first JioMart order soon after the platform’s hotly-anticipated launch.