The new service will offer free express delivery from India’s local mom ‘n’ pop grocery stores, which will help at a time when India is still seeing a spate of coronavirus cases. JioMart will service around 200 towns across India, according to Damodar Mall, Reliance’s chief executive of grocery retail, in a Tweet on Saturday (May 23).
Mall appeared jubilant about the prospects.
“Never waste a crisis, they say!” Mall said on Twitter. “A wise colleague mentioned today, ‘Alibaba also flourished starting from the SARS crisis.’”
The offering will pose a strong rivalry for the big international retailers, who are also looking to the local grocery stores as ways to make headway in the Indian market.
Reliance Industries is rolling out the service after making a partnership with Facebook, which bought a 9.99 percent stake in Jio Platforms, the company’s digital unit, for $5.7 billion. With that partnership, Reliance is poised to reap the benefits of the 400 million users of Facebook’s WhatsApp in the country.
JioMart is owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who said last month that the introduction of a more remote way of ordering food could aid in the pandemic as people tend to stay indoors more often.
The moves toward opening the new platform aren’t without strategy — estimates see India’s eCommerce market blossoming by $200 billion by 2027.
Last month, Reliance launched a small pilot version of the program in select markets of Mumbai, the Indian financial capital.
Reliance has also recently announced it is selling $7 billion in new shares. And the company has been on a fundraising spree as of late, with telecoms sector JioPlatforms winning a funding round of $10 million from investors including Facebook, KKR and General Atlantic over a period of a month.