Reliance begins work on super app; plans launch after clarity on new rules

super apps
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Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited, the parent company of India’s 4G-only telco Jio, is reportedly “refurbishing” JioApp into a so-called super app to include multiple consumer offerings in addition to its e-grocery service. 

Under the strategy to become the number one player in the ecommerce space, RIL is aggressively looking at acquisitions and partnerships and is making investments accordingly. 

RIL’s retail unit, Reliance Retail is now integrating the recently acquired Just Dial into the app to make it a one-stop window for consumers. It will also be with Facebook-owned WhatsApp on the lines of China’s WeChat, which is the most popular social commerce platform in China with over one billion users, as per a report by the Economic Times.

RIL has already built more than 20 consumer apps under its umbrella app MyJio.

The company, however, is awaiting clarity from the Indian government on its commercial policy before making the upgraded super app available to consumers in the country. “The final contours of the product are being sharpened and will be launched soon,” the publication reported citing top company officials.

A “Super App” is a marketplace of services and offerings by large companies. The app delivers services and offerings through in house technology and through third party integrations.

According to analysts, the super app  approach is being adopted to de-clutter the number of apps on a mobile phone. 

India’s Tata Group and Adani Enterprises are also developing their respective super apps. Tata’s all-in-one mobile application is being tested on key stakeholders, including employees.

Adani Enterprises’ super app will bring all products and services of the conglomerate onto a single platform.

All conglomerates are awaiting clarity on the proposed or draft ecommerce policy, which prohibits “related parties” from selling on their market-based online platforms. The Companies Act defines a related party as a body corporate that is a holding, subsidiary or associate of such body and has a common series of shareholders and directors. 

If approved, All these conglomerates can’t bring offerings from group companies to the single apps. For example, Tata group companies such as Titan, Trent, Tata Motors and Taj cannot be part of its Super App. 

Interestingly, Tata Sons has officially expressed its concerns to the consumer ministry, which led to criticism by India’s Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal for objecting to the draft rules and ignoring the national interest.

“Whatever one calls it, it is about touching consumers and meeting their every single requirement. Nothing is done adhoc in terms of planning or strategy to access consumers. Jio had begun the journey years back with telecom and is now scaling it up and tapping every route that accesses consumers,” a RIL executive was quoted as saying by the publication.

The report added that RIL is infusing “additional several thousand crores” into its ecommerce strategy with a clear directive to pre-empt competition and be a “formidable number one player in the space currently dominated by Amazon and Walmart Flipkart”.

In the last 18 months, RIL has been able to attract investments from various big tech companies that have also entered into strategic pacts with the Indian conglomerate. Facebook’s WhatsApp has been working RIL for the latter’s JioMart service, while Google has jointly an ultra affordable smartphone, called JioPhone Next, with Jio.

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