Three days after Facebook Inc said it will invest $5.7 billion in digital assets controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) started testing its online shopping portal amid lockdown.

JioMart is the e-commerce venture of Reliance Retail.

According to a media report, it went live in 3 neighborhoods surrounding Mumbai.

JioMart gives access to WhatsApp’s 400 million users in India.

The WhatsApp-based portal is likely to give a tough challenge to similar other digital platforms like Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt. which have huge shares in India’s e-commerce market.

Facebook expects that a partnership with JioMart will help make WhatsApp the primary way small businesses connect with customers.

A report quoted Vikraman P.N., founder of Finnoviti Consulting Pvt., as saying: “The roll out is happening during the toughest of times considering the supply chain constraints.”

“But Reliance will spread the pilot run in various states following its deal with Facebook. And WhatsApp will play a critical role in JioMart’s expansion,” Vikraman added.

According to JioMartLite’s website, customers need to add JioMart’s WhatsApp number 8850008000 on their phones. JioMart provides a link to place the order.

Once the order is placed, it is shared with a grocery store on WhatsApp. The customer is notified with the order and the store details on his number, it added.

Mukesh Ambai in a video clip on April 22 said the tie-up with WhatsApp will help almost 30 million Indian mom-and-pop store owners to take digital payments from customers in their neighborhoods.

“This means all of you can order and get faster delivery of day-to-day items from nearby local shops,” Ambani further said.

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