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JioMart goes live, marking a huge step on Reliance’s digital ambitions

Reliance Industries’s home delivery service JioMart went live on May 23, CNBC TV18 reported. Damodar Mall, Chief Executive Officer of Reliance Retail’s grocery business confirmed the rollout on Twitter, saying the service was now available in over 200 towns. JioMart is owned and operated by Reliance Retail. The explosion in scale is somewhat sudden for a service that was only piloting in some Mumbai suburbs up until last week. JioMart doesn’t even have an app yet, and seems to be rolled out quickly in response to the increased demand for home-delivered groceries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mall dispelled any doubt on the timing when he tweeted, “A wise colleague mentioned today, ‘Alibaba also flourished starting from the SARS crisis.’”

The service seems to be available across most major cities, like Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Dall said it’s also available in smaller towns and cities like Nagercoil, Darjeeling and Nokha. The service is sourcing orders via Reliance’s own networks as well as through kirana stores, with no pickup option. We have reached out to Jio for more details on the service’s availability.

The release happened on the same day that investment firm KKR announced announced a ₹11,367 crore (~$1.5 billion) investment in Jio Platforms, which owns Reliance Jio. Starting with Facebook, Jio Platforms has raised investments to the tune of $10 billion so far, with more potentially in the offing. JioMart is a key part of Reliance’s strategy to capture the digital market in India.

No WhatsApp integration, scheduling

JioMart is currently web-only, and doesn’t have an app out on the Play Store yet; the service is instead requesting users to pin a shortcut to the JioMart website on their homepage when visiting the website on mobile:

JioMart’s mobile website.

The much-touted WhatsApp integration, a key selling point for JioMart, doesn’t seem to be active yet for most parts of the country. Even in Navi Mumbai, where the service is already operating, the WhatsApp integration just links users to the JioMart website to place their order there instead. At least in Chennai, deliveries seem to have a standard price of Rs 25 for the moment, with that fee waived off for large purchases.

In urban centres, Jio competes with established hyperlocal delivery companies like Bigbasket, Grofers, Flipkart Supermarket, and soon Amazon. Unlike some of those services, JioMart doesn’t currently allow for delivery scheduling, and orders can take days to be fulfilled. In smaller towns, where these companies may not be well established, Reliance might have a first-mover advantage.

Update (13:25): A previous version of this article stated that Jio Platforms owned JioMart. The service is owned and operated by Reliance Retail. We regret the error.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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