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WhatsApp and JioMart commence e-commerce rollout

Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries has partnered with Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service to pilot its new online food and grocery channel JioMart in an attempt to redesign Indian retail.

Last month, Facebook invested US$5.7 billion in Jiomart, to take a 9.99 per cent interest in the digital platform and set a foundation for a joint venture with Reliance. 

JioMart, which has its own dedicated user base, will use WhatsApp’s extensive social reach to allow consumers to access the store’s e-commerce channel via web links shared on the platform. The service assigns any orders made to a nearby store, connecting small offline retailers and enabling them to expand digitally – a critical sales function during the coronavirus pandemic.

JioMart plans to onboard 30 million offline retailers to Indian consumers’ smartphones.

Data and analytics firm GlobalData has estimated the service to achieve ₹678 billion (US$8.9 billion) within three years. 

“Recently, JioMart tested its grocery ordering system through WhatsApp in the suburban areas of Mumbai, India,” said GlobalData retail analyst Hrishabh Kashyap. “That gave a glimpse of one of the many services Jio and Facebook can offer. The two popular communication platforms will work together to enable their consumers to interact with nearby stores online to place an order, allowing the retailer to retain its customers through digital association.

“The pandemic might just have given the necessary push to the massive physical retailer network in India by forcing the retailers to go digital in order to sustain their businesses and thereby insulating them from the even more rapid shift online.”

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