INDIA – Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is planning to embed its ecommerce app JioMart into WhatsApp to allow users to order products without having to leave the app.
JioMart was launched in May last year with plans to be operational across 200 cities in India.
The e-commerce venture of Reliance’s retail arm offers free express grocery delivery from neighborhood mom-and-pop stores.
Last year, Reliance raised about US$26 billion from investors like Google and Facebook for its digital and retail arms as it takes on Amazon.com Inc and Walmart-backed Flipkart in India.
Facebook, the American technology conglomerate, which also owns invested US$5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms last year.
Despite Facebook’s stake in Jio Patforms, industry executives say that JioMart wouldn’t have special access to WhatsApp’s ordering system.
Industry executives also opined that WhatsApp is unlikely to have an exclusive partnership with any JioMart or any retailer for that matter.
The social media app that is has over 400 million users in India is already in similar partnerships with several retailers such as Spencer’s Retail and Sangeetha Mobiles.
Currently JioMart runs a customer support service through the WhatsApp platform.
As per plans, JioMart may launch a nationwide WhatsApp ordering system whereby the orders would be sent to the nearest kirana who would partner with JioMart and do the final fulfilment.
JioMart, like other organisations using WhatsApp commercially, is expected to have a number which consumers will have to save on their mobile phone and then connect through WhatsApp to place orders.
The executives said that the e-commerce app already completed such a pilot last year in Mumbai where consumers ordered products using WhatsApp.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said, “through our investment with Jio, we are going to bring millions of small businesses and the customers they serve into the digital economy.
“This will make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers and close sales,” the person said.
Two senior executives with leading e-commerce marketplaces have however, flagged privacy concerns on closer integration with WhatsApp apart from the fact that it is now their competitor due to stake in Jio.
The social media app has also been in the news recently over changes in their privacy policies on sharing user data.
Widespread concern among members of the public may have however caught the eyes of facebook which has since delayed the implementation of the policies by three months to May.
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