Reliance India launches online shopping service JioMart, challenging Amazon, Flipkart

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS) launched an online shopping service, said JioMart, the head of its food retail business, in a move that aims to rival Amazon.com (AMZN.O) local unit and Walmart Inc (WMT.N) Flipkart in the huge Indian market.

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A woman checks her cell phone while passing a furniture store at Reliance Industries' Jio telecommunications unit in Mumbai, India on July 11, 2017. REUTERS / Shailesh Andrade

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JioMart will deliver groceries to more than 200 cities across the country, Damodar Mall, executive director of food retailing for the Indian conglomerate, said on Twitter on Saturday.

Mumbai-based Reliance did not announce the launch of JioMart at the time it is selling $ 7 billion in new shares.

Reliance launched a small JioMart delivery pilot in selected areas of the Indian financial capital Mumbai late last month, days after announcing that Facebook Inc (FB.O) would spend $ 5.7 billion in a 9.99% stake in the company's digital unit, Jio Platforms.

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This partnership will help Reliance to deploy the service to India's grocery stores and small businesses, capitalizing on India's 400 million user base for Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service.

JioMart, the e-commerce venture of Reliance's retail arm, offers free express delivery from the supermarket to neighborhood mom-and-pop stores. This will represent a formidable challenge for local rivals, who are also betting heavily on supplies for their growth.

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The launch comes when India is witnessing an increase in coronavirus cases. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that the product catalog on the JioMart website will be expanded after blocking restrictions designed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus are eased.

"Never waste a crisis, they say!" Mall said in his tweet. "A wise colleague mentioned today, & # 39; Alibaba also flourished from the SARS crisis & # 39;".

Telecommunications oil giant, controlled by India's wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani, did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment on the launch.

Reliance is on a wave of fundraising with Jio Platforms, which houses Jio Infocomm telecommunications ventures, earning a massive $ 10 billion from investors like Facebook, KKR & Co Inc (KKR.N) and General Atlantic in one month.

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Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Edition by William Mallard

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