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July 6,9: Reliance Industries is doing spectacularly well in the retail business, which spans petro chemicals, apparel, electronics, groceries, fashion and lifestyle and connectivity. It is already the largest in this business, in terms of revenue as well as network.
As speculation grows about a possible listing of this business, RIL has begun talking about bringing together offline and e-commerce activities on a newly developed integrated platform. The development of such a platform could well unleash a major disruption in the retail market.
It would perhaps be a long-gestation business but has a large revenue potential. Remember, whether it be Walmart or Carrefour or Amazon, no one in the world of retail today has an integrated platform for e-commerce which seamlessly connects online with offline.
They will be able to manage inventory, keep digital records and file returns, improve working capital management, retain and upgrade customers, access new customers, run promotion and loyalty programs etc. Ambani said advanced tech such as augmented reality, holographic technology and VR devices would be used on this new platform.
And digital tools will help predict the needs of shoppers.
Besides, the existing and deep insights of Reliance Retail into Indian customers, its large local presence and superior supply chain will further help small merchants. This platform is expected to offer financing to small shopkeepers and merchants. And RIL will anyway be able to leverage its existing businesses through this platform.
While there is robust growth in telecom, it is also a highly capital intensive business, leaving retail to bring in a disproportionate share of increased revenues.
In the January-March quarter ofthe retail business of RIL saw revenues more than doubling and Ebitda earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization nearly tripling.
Margins expanded basis points during the quarter. The grocery segment has shrunk for Reliance Retail and now accounts for just a fifth of revenues from almost a third till Reliance Retail is the largest in the business, with revenues nearly double the size of the next competitor D-Mart.
So while there are a host of positives to an eventual listing already, perhaps the biggest push could come from the integrated platform for offline and online ecommerce, which Ambani mentioned in his speech today.
A listing or not, this alone is a marker of the growing importance of retail in the RIL universe. The author is a senior journalist.Find the latest news, headlines, blogs and video about retail, consumers, shopping and retail companies from initiativeblog.com Conducting high-level research into who buys what, when and why, with regards to Americans shopping online, can be costly and time-consuming — which is why we’ve done it for you.
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