What you need to know
- Reliance has begun testing its WhatsApp-backed JioMart online shopping portal in India.
- The e-commerce portal is now serving consumers in three cities around Mumbai.
- Consumers in the three cities can place an order by texting "Hi" to JioMart's WhatsApp number 8850008000.
Last week, Facebook announced an investment of $5.7 billion in India's Jio to bring millions of small businesses across the country to WhatsApp and to enable people to shop directly from the encrypted messaging app. JioMart, which is a joint venture between Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail, has now started testing a WhatsApp-based "ordering system" in three cities just outside Mumbai – Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Kalyan.
Consumers in the three cities can now order groceries by typing "Hi" and sending it to JioMart's WhatsApp number 8850008000. Once users send the message, they will receive a link to open a mini store in a browser. The store currently has a wide range of grocery products, such as rice, cooking oil, snacks, and more. Once an order is placed, JioMart assigns users a local store, from where they can pick up the products. Currently, however, the e-commerce platform does not support digital payments.
According to TechCrunch, the WhatsApp-based ordering system is currently at the pilot stage, and over 1,200 neighbourhood stores are participating in the pilot program. Reliance and Facebook are hoping to eventually expand the JioMart e-commerce platform to all parts of the country, enabling users to find local stores and place orders for products from within WhatsApp. Given WhatsApp's unrivalled popularity in the country, the digital platform has the potential to give Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart a run for their money.
Will this play from Facebook actually fly? I'm not personally familiar with the Indian market, but Indans are (understandably) quite wary of foreign imperialism from what I understand.
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