Reliance starts WhatsApp-based online portal

MUMBAI • Reliance Industries Ltd started testing its online shopping portal three days after Facebook Inc said it will invest US$5.7 billion (RM24.85 billion) in digital assets controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani.

JioMart — an e-commerce venture of Reliance Retail Ltd — went live in three neighbourhoods surrounding Mumbai, leveraging a deal that gives it access to WhatsApp’s 400 million users in India currently under the world’s most expansive lockdown.

The starting of the portal takes Asia’s richest man a step closer to his goal of setting up a digital platform to take on Inc and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart Online Services Pte Ltd for a slice of India’s e-commerce market that KPMG International Cooperative said is set to grow to US$200 billion by 2027. Facebook hopes a partnership with JioMart will help make WhatsApp the primary way small businesses connect with customers.

“The roll out is happening during the toughest of times considering the supply chain constraints,” said Vikraman PN, founder of Finnoviti Consulting Pte Ltd.

Customers need to add JioMart’s WhatsApp number 8850008000 on their phones. JioMart provides a link to place the order. Once the order is placed, it is shared with a grocery store on Whats- App. The customer is notified with the order and the store details on his number, according to JioMartLite’s website. — Bloomberg