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HomeEconomyMukesh Ambani's RIL takes on Amazon, Walmart in e-commerce battle

Mukesh Ambani’s RIL takes on Amazon, Walmart in e-commerce battle

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Outlining the plan at RIL AGM, Mukesh Ambani says the effort will involve the group’s Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio.

Reliance Industries Ltd plans to take on the likes of Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd in retail by creating a platform that combines online and conventional shopping.

Billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani outlined the plan Thursday at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Mumbai. The effort will involve the group’s Reliance Retail Ltd and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd businesses, he said. The latter will also introduce a fiber-based broadband service 15 August.

Global retail powerhouses like Amazon and Walmart have been investing in India’s retail industry, where e-commerce sales could more than double to $72 billion by 2022 from $32.7 billion in 2018, research firm eMarketer estimated. The retail-to-refining conglomerate is looking for growth in e-commerce after spending as much as 2.5 trillion rupees ($36.3 billion) in setting up mobile and fiber broadband infrastructure, Ambani said.

The platform will use augmented reality, holographs and virtual reality to create an “immersive shopping experience,” Ambani said, without giving a timeline or financial targets. The service will be available to small merchants as well, enabling them to “do everything that large enterprises and large e-commerce players are able to do.”

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said in May it will acquire a 77 percent stake in Flipkart Group for $16 billion, leaving the remainder to Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and other shareholders.

Other news from the shareholder meeting:

*Jio aims to introduce fiber broadband in 1,100 cities nationwide

* The e-commerce venture will leverage 350 million footfalls in Reliance Retail stores, 215 million Jio subscribers, and the target of 50 million fiber broadband homes and 30 million small merchants

*Carrier has introduced JioPhone2, an upgraded version of the feature phone offered for an initial price of 2,999 rupees. The upgrade allows access to Youtube, Whatsapp and Facebook

Read more about Walmart pipped Amazon to snag the Flipkart deal

Reliance shares fell 2.6 percent to 964.50 rupees in Mumbai.

Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd., a provider of cable television and broadband services, plunged 15 percent, its biggest decline since 2010, while DEN Networks Ltd. dropped 10 percent on expectations Ambani’s Jio will intensify competition. The carrier may look to gain fiber broadband subscribers by offering lower prices and some free services, a strategy that worked for Jio’s phone services. -Bloomberg

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