Amazon's newest challenger may be the richest man in Asia

(Right to left) The richest man in Asia, Mukesh Ambani and the richest man in the world, Jeff BezosBusinessInsider

  • Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, is launching his own e-commerce platform in the second most populous country in the world, India.
  • The launch of ‘local’ e-commerce platform could bring in fierce competition against foreign players like Amazon since it wouldn’t be subject to the same scrutiny.
  • Reliance Retail’s offline avatar already serves 3.5 million customers every week.
  • Ambani states that this is a move against ‘data colonisation’ — a way to migrate control and ownership of Indian data back to India.
Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and in Asia, is gearing up to go head-to-head with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, currently the richest man in the world.

Ambani is planning to launch his own e-commerce platform in India, starting with the western state of Gujarat.

Currently, the Indian e-commerce space is pretty evenly split between Flipkart and Amazon India, each having 30% market share. But Ambani’s entry — the entry of a strong ‘local’ e-commerce player — could upset that balance as local vendors are trying to fight off the incursion of foreign retailers.

When Ambani launched his own network, Reliance Jio Infocomm, it only took the company two years to garner 20% of the market share. In comparison, Amazon has been in India for over five years now and managed to capture 51% of the market share during the most recent festive season. But, at the end of the day, they are indeed different industries.

Ambani’s retail plans

The Indian government is already pulling out the red carpet from under the feet of foreign players with its new e-commerce policy. The policy cuts them off from offering deep discounts or selling their own products — like MarQ or the Amazon Echo.

Ambani, who controls a $43 billion fortune, won’t be subjected to the same terms and conditions as a ‘local’ player in India.

His plans reportedly include building an ‘immersive shopping experience’ using next-gen technology with augmented reality (AR) to compete against Amazon and Walmart-owned, Flipkart.

"Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India - in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian."

Mukesh Ambani to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 9th Vibrant Gujarat Summit

Reliance Retail, in its offline avatar, has already shown exponential growth over the past five years. From 2017 to 2018, its annual revenue increase two-fold from ₹337.65 billion ($4.73 billion) to ₹691.08 billion ($9.68 billion).

Having been around since 2006, Reliance Retail serves over 3.5 million customers every week through its local shops, supermarkets and wholesale outlets that reach more than 6,500 Indian cities and towns.

Once it goes live in Gujarat, it will be empowering the 1.2 million local shopkeepers in the state to sell their goods online.

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The Jio network has a part to play as well since it has been the driving force behind bringing 250 million people in India online.

But for corners of the country that don’t have internet, Ambani’s plan includes utilizing the 5,100 smaller Jio Point stores, that are spread across 5,00 cities, as ‘last-mile’ connectivity for its e-commerce platform.

See also:
The Indian government just dealt a serious surprise to Amazon and Flipkart — Here’s what that means for online shoppers

Amazon and Flipkart are off the hook — You’ll still be able to buy the Amazon Echo and MarQ products online

Meet the Ambanis, the richest family in Asia, who live in a $1 billion skyscraper and mingle with royals, politicians, and Bollywood stars
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