India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is reportedly planning to foray into B2B ecommerce focusing on retailers and kirana stores. An economic times report claims that Reliance Retail – the retail unit of Reliance Industries – is planning to disrupt the digital wholesale marketplace on the same level as Alibaba has done in China. The company will be mainly offering smartphones, televisions, garments, spices and soap to retailers at wholesale rates.
According to reports, Reliance Retail has already initiated a trail operation in Bengaluru by partnering with Ajio Business to sell apparels to nearly 50K vendors. In further it plans to expand the trail operation to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in next phase. This will be followed with trail operation in Mumbai scheduled for next month initially focusing on fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and grocery.
After these trail operations are phased out, Reliance Retail plans to offer wholesale services to approximately 12 Mn Kirana outlets. The company at a broader level is planning to bind together large distributors and suppliers and the small kiranas to facilitate seamless B2B e-commerce. The company has labeled this e –commerce, according to reports, as new e-commerce.
Last year, Reliance Retail did announce its foray into the ecommerce sector with plans to sell smartphones and electronic goods in the B2C space.
Ambani lately has been pretty outspoken about his e-commerce ambition. At Reliance’s AGM last year, he spoke about bigger opportunity that lies in the hybrid online-offline model.
Earlier this year while speaking at Vibrant Gujarat summit, the business tycoon had said that Reliance Retail will extensively leverage 5,100 Jio points to implement the e-commerce strategy.
Reliance’s seriousness about e-commerce can also be gauged from the fact that it had recently acquired logistic firm Grab for Rs 146 crore ($20.58 million).
Ambani’s plan to step into B2B space is least surprising given that India’s wholesale market is enormously huge. The size of the Indian wholesale market in food and grocery alone is estimated to be whopping $600 billion.
But only time will tell whether Ambani can create the same level of disruption in e-commerce as he managed to do it in the telecom sector.