Reliance Retail to allow checkout through WhatsApp

Date : 23 January 2021

Francis Ramos

Senior Retail Analyst

Reliance Retail plans to integrate its own e-commerce app JioMart into WhatsApp, within the next six months.  This would enable 400m users of India’s most popular messaging app to order food and grocery products, without having to switch to another platform.

Integration challenges Flipkart and Amazon in India’s online retail market

Customers can place their orders on JioMart by adding its WhatsApp number (88500 08000) on their smartphones.  This will then trigger the system to send a link to their WhatsApp chat window, which is valid for 30 minutes.  Shoppers can then see JioMart’s product catalogue directly from their WhatsApp chat screen, start shopping and checkout on the same app.  Reliance Retail is India’s leading offline retailer, and this partnership between JioMart and WhatsApp creates the potential for it to challenge Walmart-backed Flipkart and Amazon’s dominance in online retail.

JioMart-WhatsApp collaboration supplements plan to partner with Kirana stores

JioMart was established in May 2020, with an ambition to operate across 200 cities in India.  Within a few months since it was launched, JioMart has grown aggressively in the online grocery market by fulfilling more orders daily than its rivals.  Should this plan to allow customers to use WhatsApp for online shopping push through, it will further strengthen the end-to-end experience for them.  This is because Reliance Retail also plans to partner with neighborhood mom-and-pop stores for free express delivery of their groceries.

Status of WhatsApp’s privacy policy update may impact this proposal

This development comes at a time when WhatsApp has been affected by its controversial new privacy policy.  The updated terms that would tweak how it processes data when users interact with a business account is supposed to be in effect starting February 8, but has now been pushed back after facing severe backlash.  Will Cathcart from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has requested WhatsApp to give users the choice to opt out of the new policy.