We like to think we can foretell developments in the industries we study. I can recall meeting a Jio operative at Abu Saeed Khan’s home in Dhaka before they launched and chatting about what was to come. We all agreed that Reliance would disrupt the market. All I could come up with was that voice would most likely be free, or very cheap. That was nothing very insightful, because that was where the technology was at that time.
I never thought Jio would get Internet startup valuations, or that it would become the e commerce leader in India. What next?
At the end of May, Reliance announced the launch of e-commerce arm JioMart in 200 cities. Taking advantage of market changes driven by the pandemic, JioMart began by selling groceries, the most in-demand category of goods. The company relied on its own network of retail stores and the multiple kirana (or mom and pop) stores it had spent the past year signing up for JioMart. JioMart already has some 250,000 daily orders, beating both Amazon and BigBasket, which was until recently the country’s largest e-grocer.
During the July shareholder meeting, Ambani indicated that strategic and financial partners have expressed interest in investing in Reliance’s retail arm. It is already being reported that Amazon is considering acquiring a stake. Reliance’s next chapter is likely to be focused on using the infrastructure of Jio to power its ambitions in digital retail. This chapter is just beginning.