BENGALURU: India’s e-commerce industry is at an inflection point—it has clocked aggressive sales, attracted billions of dollars in investments, and yet, there is still has a long way to go before it constitutes the majority of the country’s massive $1 trillion retail market. The Covid- 19 pandemic has accelerated the segment’s growth, however, and drawn the attention of India’s corporate heavyweights Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata—both of whom see digital consumers as their next big market.
Both are also planning to take on e-commerce leaders Amazon and Flipkart through acquisitions and analysts note that this is set to become a four-way battle for the e-commerce market. Amazon, having managed to get an interim injunction in its favour in Singapore against the Reliance-Future Group agreement, has also approached Indian market regulator Securities Exchange Board of India accusing the Future Group of misleading its shareholders and violating its contract with Amazon.
The Tata Group seems to have made its own bet, with a reported $1 billion deal expected to secure a majority stake in e-grocery unicorn Big Basket. It is also in talks with other internet firms, as well US retail giant Walmart, to bolster its efforts in omni-channel commerce and creating a super app. Reliance, on the other hand, has also held discussions with niche players such as Milk Basket, acquired a minority stake in a pharma start-up, and roped in Whatsapp for its JioMart venture.
“The market here is largely untapped and so big that it can easily have 4-5 key players who will offer convenience as well as affordability,” a top executive at an market research firm told this publication, adding that the key will be successfully tapping into rural India. Grocery, in particular, has seen the keenest battle thus far, with experts noting that it is likely to move faster towards adopting e-retail. A recent Redseer analysis said customers increasingly ordering groceries online. While the traditional brick-and-mortar segment will likely grow 5% CAGR till 2024, Redseer expects organised retail and e-commerce to g row at 1 6% and 5 7% respectively.