Facebook-Backed Reliance Launches Powerful Online Grocery Service In India

Reliance Industries has now launched its JioMart online grocery service across cities in India, with their new JioMart website also going live.

The service is a tie-up between Reliance Retail, India’s largest retailer in terms of revenue, and telecom venture Reliance Jio Platform which boasts 388M subscribers.

“Big town or small, JioMart delivers in over 200 towns, starting today” tweeted Damodar Mall, head of the company’s grocery retail unit, late on Saturday.

He also took the opportunity to add: “Never waste a crisis, they say! A wise colleague mentioned today, ‘Alibaba also flourished starting from the SARS crisis.’” Customers will have to pay a fee of Rs 25, but only if the order value is less than Rs 750.

The move will place JioMart in direct competition with Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart’s (WMT) Indian grocery service, Flipkart.

Last month Reliance initiated a pilot grocery service in three suburbs of Mumbai, with a special WhatsApp ordering system. The announcement followed the news that social media giant Facebook (FB) had snapped up a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7B.

“You can browse shops and talk to the shop owner. And ultimately, where we do want to take this flow is for you to be able to place your orders,” Ajit Mohan, a Facebook VP, told TechCrunch at the time. WhatsApp has 400M users in India, making it a powerful tool for the grocery market, especially as it grows closer to launching its own in-chat payment feature.

Facebook currently scores a bullish Strong Buy Street consensus, with 33 recent buy ratings and only 3 hold ratings. Meanwhile the average analyst price target stands at $240 (2% upside potential), with shares up 14% year-to-date. (See FB stock analysis on TipRanks).

“Fundamentally, there’s a lot to look forward to – the increase in engagement across FB’s platforms potentially enabling an acceleration in Revenue growth, signs of path to WhatsApp monetization (in part with JioMart integration in India), Instagram commerce/Checkout, and Payments & AR/VR (Oculus)” RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney wrote recently. He has a buy rating on the stock and $271 price target.

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