"The thrust on expansion and transformation continued particularly on strengthening omnichannel and digital platform capabilities and scaling up New Commerce," it said.
The digital commerce and merchant partnerships business has gained significant traction in the wake of COVID-induced disruptions and accounted for about 10 per cent of Reliance Retail’s FY21 revenue of Rs 1,53,818 crore.
According to the latest annual report of Reliance Industries, the digital commerce and merchant partnerships business contributed nearly 10 per cent of revenues, “significantly stepped up from near zero in the preceding year”.
Reliance Retail has reported a revenue of Rs 1,53,818 crore and a pre-tax profit of Rs 9,842 crore in FY21.
Describing the growth of the online channel, the company said: “Digital commerce gained significant traction in the wake of lockdown/restrictions” and is “likely to remain buoyant.”
In FY21, Reliance Retail strengthened its digital commerce and omni-channel capabilities across all businesses and adopted latest technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to cater to the changing consumer behaviour and patterns.
“Reliance Retail is looking at deploying AI and Machine Learning (ML) to identify patterns and garner predictive insights into customer behaviour,” as per the annual report.
This will help the company deliver products tailored to changing customer needs faster, build real-time value and enhance the overall customer experience. “It is transforming its end-to-end procurement processes, making it simpler, more efficient and digitised,” it added.
Reliance, which had launched India’s largest hyperlocal platform JioMart last year, has acquired online pharmacy Netmeds, online furniture retailer Urban Ladder and online lingerie retailer Zivame, stepping up its play into the fast-growing e-commerce segment.
“The thrust on expansion and transformation continued particularly on strengthening omnichannel and digital platform capabilities and scaling up New Commerce,” it said.
Reliance also added that physical stores still remain a growth opportunity for the company, particularly for expansion in smaller towns.
As of March 31, 2021, Reliance Retail was operating 12,711 stores, covering 33.8 million sq ft. It operates nearly two-third of that in smaller towns and over half of 1,456 new stores opened in FY21 were in those markets.
Moreover, “over half the orders on digital platforms are from Tier II and smaller tier towns,” it said.
In FY 21, Reliance Retail also agreed to acquire the retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business of the Future Group for a consideration of Rs 24,713 crore.
“This acquisition is awaiting requisite approvals,” it added.
The deal is contested by Amazon and final order from the Supreme Court is awaited in this. Reliance Retail also executed India’s largest fundraising of Rs 47,265 crore in FY21 from global investors.