Apart from 5G offerings to a strategic deal with Google and ambitious plans ahead for the three business verticals (telecom, retail and oil & gas), Jio Platforms played a key role at the recently concluded Annual General Meeting by Reliance Industries, with JioMart taking up the majority of RIL’s biggest announcements.
With debut project being already piloted in 200 select cities, JioMart is now set to proliferate in India’s hyperlocal retail space and will leverage its strategic partnership with Facebook to use WhatsApp as a medium to bring kirana stores online.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing director of RIL, stated that WhatsApp’s reach of over 400 million users in India will enable JioMart to expand to various corners. Jio will utilise Reliance’s existing retail expertise and network to further promote the onboarding of offline, small kirana stores on to a digital platform, which will further enable them to expand their businesses.
JioMart’s primary focus right now will be confined to expanding its presence in the groceries segment, and will look to include more industries in the future,including electronics.
JioMart will offer a free Covid-19 care kit to all new users for their first order on JioMart. The grocery delivery platform will focus on bringing offline businesses online, and it has been stated that it takes only 40 minutes to convert a traditional, offline kirana store into updated, hyperlocal online stores. This will facilitate individuals into ordering all their requirements from local shops, which can improve customer experience and also reduce order delivery wait times.
JioMart’s entry may spark consolidation talk
Investors and founders believe that JioMart’s entry into multiple categories across the technology spectrum will spark more consolidation talk in the Indian startup ecosystem.
“As the market consolidates, we will see increased M&A and buyout activity by the three players — Flipkart, Amazon, and Jio — to strengthen their capabilities in certain niches, or to catch up with competition,” said Ashish Sharma, managing director at InnoVen Capital. “We may also see more strategic partnerships like what we saw with Facebook and Jio.”
An uptick in Mergers and Acquisitions expected
A significant rise in mergers and acquisitions is expected in India’s start-up ecosystem due to companies and investors grappling with dip in capital and revenue owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Jio’s announcement of the way it will support and grow the startup ecosystem is just the stimulus that India needed. Finally, we have intent and commitment from a player of scale that can take other home-grown brands to the world.”~Girish Shivani, Executive Director at YourNest Venture Capital
Separately, JioMart, plans to expand beyond grocery into segments such as fashion and electronics, which will further heighten competition with ecommerce giants Amazon and Flipkart.
Reliance has been voraciously either outrightly acquiring, or investing in, at least 20 home-grown startups, including educational technology platform Embibe, conversational AI platform Haptik, and O2O commerce platform Fynd, among others,over the last few years. It has also associated itself with NetMeds for the delivery of medicines.
“Jio has shown its commitment to Indian startups in the last couple of years and partnered with almost 6-7 startups. This is the start of an era wherein a large domestic player is creating a local ecosystem benefitting a whole range of startups, from financial services to internet-only businesses.”~Jitendra Gupta, CEO, Jupiter Money
Strategic Google deal
Ambani revealed that search engine giant Google will invest Rs 33,737 crore in Jio Platforms for a 7.73 per cent stake. This investment by Google values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.36 lakh crore, 11.20 per cent lower than the Rs 4.91 lakh crore valuation at which Qualcomm Ventures bought a smaller stake in the telecom business just two days ago.
With Google as partner, Ambani said RIL was looking to design an entry-level 4G or even a 5G smartphone at a price that could be a fraction of current cost. The recent deal with US chipmaker Qualcomm emerges as a strategic one.
The move may set to hit China’s Huawei’s 5G plans in India amid the already escalated India-China tensions due to the border skirmish.