In its next step to expand its omni-channel retail foray, Reliance Retail is reportedly planning to open small stores to manage the last mile delivery of products ordered online. These outlets called Reliance Smart Points will occupy a space of between 500 and 1,500 square feet and customers will have the option to order stuff online and pick them up from these smart points or accept delivery at their doorstep.
The exercise has just begun with the company already opening up around 18 such points in Navi Mumbai. The plan is to cover the whole country eventually and real estate agencies in the cities have been alerted to look for appropriate properties for renting out.
The other e-commerce ventures like Amazon have been setting up huge warehouses which they call fulfilment centres and these are the points from where their logistics partners pick up the ordered goods for delivery to the customers. The format for the grocery and fresh food segment will have to be suitably modified by them also, since the key here is the turnaround time. The customer would want the items ordered to be delivered within hours if not minutes. If the idea is to service the customers online replacing the conventional kirana stores, then these are essential. Operators like BigBasket, leading the pack in this segment have understood this clearly. Customers can place orders in the morning and hope that it will get delivered by the evening.
Reliance may look at expanding this network in Mumbai and pick Delhi as the next destination for setting up the Reliance Smart Points.
The cost of renting these properties could add to the expenses and Reliance has possibly advised its agents to look for locations where the rental rates are not too high.
The company aims to get this done quite swiftly aiming at opening these outlets within a span of two months.
There is the plan to take on board the neighbourhood kirana stores as part of its retail expansion though the contours of that plan are yet be made clear. Its own 11,000 Reliance Fresh retail outlets can also be used for the same purposes.