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Reliance Retail Set to Disrupt Amazon, Walmart-Flipkart

The eCommerce competition in India remains fierce

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Reliance Jio office. Source: www.reliancejio.website

Reliance Retail’s upcoming entry into the online retail sector is the biggest challenge for Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart as the Mukesh Ambani-led behemoth is well positioned to create massive disruption in the market, a new report has stressed.

According to the global market research firm Forrester, the online retail sales in India will grow at a five-year CAGR of 25.8 per cent to reach $85 billion by 2023, despite the hiccups of demonetization in 2016, GST in 2017 and the governmental changes in eCommerce policy announced last December.

The time is ripe for Reliance Retail, which operates 10,415 stores in more than 6,600 cities, with 500 million annual footfalls – giving the company the kind of scale required to swiftly launch India-based operations.

“One of the things that will trouble Amazon and Flipkart is Reliance’s history of launching operations via massive discounts,” Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research, said on Tuesday.

Reliance entered the telecom sector in 2003 with the Monsoon Hungama tariff plan, which brought tariffs for voice calls down to just Rs 0.40 a minute from the existing rate of Rs 2 a minute, followed by the launch of Jio 4G plan in 2016 that dropped data rates from Rs 250 per GB to Rs 50 per GB.

“This kind of discounting can disrupt any market, and we expect something similar to happen in the grocery space during Reliancea¿s launch,” Meena added.

Reliance is fast working on creating the world’s largest online-to-offline New Commerce Platform, according to Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries.

“Due to the recent changes in eCommerce policy and the restrictions on an inventory-led model for marketplaces with FDI, Reliance Retail is finding a favourable policy environment to launch operations where it can use its existing retail infrastructure to deliver goods to customers,” the Forrester report noted.

Reliance launched the food and grocery app among its employees in April 2019 to prepare for the commercial launch later in the year.

Reliance Retail is the largest retailer in India, with $18.7 billion in revenue during financial year 2019, and it grew at a CAGR of 55 per cent in the last five years.

Reliance Retail had $81 billion in revenue and $9.4 billion in profit during 2019.

e-commerce
Security guards stand at the reception desk of the Amazon India office in Bengaluru, India, Aug. 14, 2015. VOA

“This gives Reliance Retail access to long-term capital from the conglomerate, which has a presence in energy, petrochemicals, telecom, textiles, retail, and natural resources,” said Forrester.

Reliance Retail also has a portfolio of over 40 brands, from the midmarket to premium segments and including Hamleys (which the company has acquired for Rs 620 crore) and Marks & Spencer.

“These can provide a boost to the fashion and lifestyle segment, which will be the largest category by online spending in the coming years,” said the report.

Reliance launched its mobile business at the end of 2015, and by April 2019, it had over 300 million mobile subscribers a” making it the third-largest player in a short span of time.

Jio is building on these mobile subscribers by investing in related services to create an ecosystem that gives customers access to rich content and payments options.

This ecosystem will be available for Reliance Retail to build on.

To compete with Amazon and Flipkart, Reliance will have to significantly improve the customer experience, both in stores and on its online channel, because discounts and cashbacks will not generate loyalty for online customers a” as we saw in the Paytm Mall case.

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“Removal of discounts may lead to a significant loss of buyers from the platform. The positioning of the Reliance platform and its fulfilment will play a critical role in the fight against Amazon and Flipkart,” emphasised the Forrester report.

The eCommerce competition in India remains fierce.

Amazon has been the most popular online retailer since it surpassed Flipkart in 2016, although Flipkart is still the single-largest online retailer, with 31.9 per cent market share in 2018 (38.4 per cent if you include Myntra and Jabong), closely followed by Amazon at 31 per cent. (IANS)

Next Story

DPIIT Sends Questionnaire to Amazon, Flipkart on FDI Norms Adherence: Report

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail

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Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

After repeated complaints by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) over alleged violation of FDI norms by e-commerce majors, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sent a questionnaire to Amazon and Flipkart over their adherence to the norms for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The questions are concerned with their fund flow, business model and inventory management, people in the know of things said, adding that it also asks the names of their respective top five sellers and price list of vendors on these platforms.

Official sources said that the department would look into their replies and then decide whether more clarification is required or any action needs to be taken.

“It is basically related to the complaints of small retailers, and a series of questions have been sent to them which are relevant to understand the allegations which small retailers make about these online platforms which are under FDI,” a source told IANS.

Questions sent to Amazon and Flipkart by IANS, however, were not immediately replied.

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Traders’ body CAIT has time and again approached the government for its intervention regarding the “deep” discounts offered by these platforms during festival sales. CAIT recently sought an independent audit of the business models of both Amazon and Flipkart on the charges of predatory pricing and deep discounting, among others.

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An Amazon Prime Truck is on the Road in Virginia, transporting thousands of items ordered from online giant Amazon. (D Bekheet/VOA)

The move by DPIIT comes after Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal last week warned of strict action against e-commerce companies if they were found violating India’s e-commerce policy.

In a related development, CAIT on Sunday alleged that not only the e-commerce companies, but even large number of brands in mobile, FMCG, electronics, electrical appliances, footwear, garments, gift articles, watches and other segments as well as several banks are also responsible for distortion of prices of different products on online portals.

“It is apparent that these brand-owning companies are also exploiting the offline market being hand in glove with e-commerce companies having separate price policy for both online and offline markets which is a clear violation of the Competition Act,” CAIT said in a statement.

It also criticised the banks which give cash back and different types of discounts for purchasing goods from e-commerce portals by making payments through their respective credit or debit cards.

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail. (IANS)