“We do not comment on media speculation and rumors. Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis,” a Reliance spokesperson told CNN Business. “We have made and will continue to make necessary disclosures in compliance with our obligations,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Amazon in India declined to comment.
Reliance Retail has nearly 11,000 stores across India and sells everything from smartphones to groceries. A partnership would give Amazon a stronger brick-and-mortar presence in a country where it has committed more than $5 billion to growing its business.
“For Amazon, what they’re looking for is access to offline infrastructure, which includes a supply chain and offline stores,” Forrester analyst Satish Meena told CNN Business. “Without having an offline presence, it’s going to be difficult for Amazon to capture a bigger market,” he added.
Ambani has already declared an intention to combine his digital and retail clout, announcing plans for an e-commerce platform of his own in a speech in January. Partnering with Amazon would give those plans a major boost.
“This deal will provide Reliance Retail with ready access to an established e-commerce platform,” said Kiran Pedada, assistant professor of marketing at the Indian School of Business. “Reliance will get access to Amazon’s technology and its global knowledge and experience,” Pedada added.
Having one of India’s biggest homegrown companies and the country’s wealthiest man in its corner could help Amazon more effectively lobby the Indian government against regulations that hurt its business.
“An added bonus coming into this is the policy influence Reliance brings into the picture,” said Meena of Forrester.
But Amazon’s main priority will likely be blowing past its biggest rival in India.
“If [a deal with Reliance] goes ahead, it’s going to be very difficult for Walmart and Flipkart,” Meena added.
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