You may not have heard of the Indian telcom brand Jio but investors certainly have. The company has recently gathered $20bn from investors that include Google and Facebook.
Jio is a company with lots of latent e-commerce potential. It has about a 45% share of Indian mobile phone users and via parent company Reliance has access to a major physical retail presence and supply chain. Reliance operates 10,000 retail stores in over 6,600 cities across India.
With Google as a partner Jio will be able to develop affordable phones to move Indian consumers to 4 and 5g networks increasing use of services such as Google Pay. With Facebook it can access 1.5 billion active users including 400 million via WhatsApp.
More use of payment and other services is good for partners, but the bigger prize is, perhaps, being part of Jio’s disruptive e-commerce business model.
Google and Facebook users combined with retail network / supply chain assets supports an e-commerce platform proposition designed to attract small Kirana stores to partner with the company. JioMart aims to be the interface that allows local customers to shop online with their local store.
Kirana stores, numbering around 12 million, are embedded in their communities and could account for about 90% of India’s grocery sales today. Via the JioMart platform the scope of what they can sell could be significantly increased.
Persuading Kirana store owners to change established practices may prove difficult, but the JioMart model may have an advantage Vs competitors Flipkart (owned by Walmart) and Amazon. Jio’s access to Reliant’s established supply chains and producer relationships may support efficiencies that enable sustained highly competitive pricing.
Jio’s focus may be constrained to the Indian market, but its collaborative ‘ecosystem’ could drive significant brand growth. If Jio ultimately wins against the likes of Amazon with Google and Facebook as minor contributors it will also prove a noteworthy case study for Modi’s self-reliant India.