KOLKATA: Reliance Retail is reported to be preparing to move into e-commerce with the aim of overtaking the current market leaders within a few years.

“Reliance Retail has plans to compete with Amazon and Flipkart by offering a wide selection of products, (with the promise of) same or next day delivery even in small towns where aspiration level is high but availability is a problem,” according to one of three industry executives who spoke to the Economic Times.

Central to Reliance’s strategy will be how it combines its existing 136m Jio phone subscribers with its retail store network and more-than-one million shops selling Jio connections to act as fulfilment centres.

“The target is to become the country’s largest e-commerce firm by 2020 and be profitable in months and not years,” the executive said.

The product range on offer may be more narrowly focused than its pure-play rivals, with mobile phones, consumer electronics and fast-moving consumer items among the categories covered.

Reliance is also understood to be targeting food and grocery sales in towns with at least 50,000 residents, where it believes its e-commerce platform could account for half of consumers’ monthly purchases.

“The differentiation will lie in wider selection and sales of fruits and vegetables that no other ecommerce venture in this segment has been able to crack successfully,” one of the executives said.

“Apart from utilising the brick-and-mortar store network, additional fulfilment centres will be set up for food and grocery,” he added.

A Bloomberg analysis suggested that the current figure of 60m online shoppers (out of a total of 432m internet users) could rise to 475m by 2027 (out of an estimated 915m internet users) and argued that half the market was open to Reliance’s “online-offline hybrid strategy”.

“Jio … will merely be giving its customers a digital key into an offline shopping world that already has the rich variety they want,” it said.

Sourced from Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff