Reliance’s Chakravyuh: An All-Out Business War on Multiple Fronts

How Reliance Industries is slowly threatening Amazon’s (and a whole range of other firms’) future in India

Deepak Mehta
Jul 10 · 5 min read

The Indian D-Street is abuzz with talks about India’s largest business behemoth acquiring what probably was India’s first supermarket. .

With that, Reliance will solidify itself in offline retail. The acquisition of Big Bazaar will boost Reliance Retail’s revenues by 15% and set it far ahead of the rest of the competition. (Reliance Retail clocked , Future Group of INR 200 billion were primarily due to .)

This acquisition is just the latest in a long list of ventures that Reliance Industries has embarked on in the recent past in an attempt to diversify.

Just a few days ago, they , a video conferencing app. Considering the ongoing COVID situation and the way it is going to fundamentally change the business landscape, this is a near-perfect move. Despite the fact that it is a , it already has on Google play, riding high on the wave of nationalism rampant in the country, and the strong government push for “”/(“self-reliance”; coincident much?).

Jio, the digital venture of Reliance, has frankly been a game-changer for them. Replete with their own apps for a wide variety of entertainment needs (music, video games, streaming, movie-on-demand) and the broadband and cellular services, it has now created a tight ecosystem of everything the average Indian digital consumer needs on one platform.

No wonder, Reliance Jio alone is , making it bigger than all but the top 3 private Indian firms (Reliance, TCS, HDFC) including the likes of household names like HCL, Bajaj, ICICI, Wipro, Airtel, SBI, etc.

With the aggressive expansion and acquisition spree, Reliance now is firmly entrenched across fields.


Six months ago, Finshots posted an infographic titled . It quickly became viral across Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit, propelling the then small publication into the mainstream. But right now is the right time to update the same as one of the world’s biggest corporations faces its toughest challenge yet in India.

Technically, Amazon and Reliance operate in very different industries — the former is an online store and delivery service and the latter is best known for the oil refinery business. However, over the years Amazon has diversified into multiple ventures, both adjacent and seemingly disconnected through means organic and inorganic.

One of their very first acquisitions , the premier movie database, back in 1998.

They did not lose focus of their roots, acquiring multiple book-related businesses — (printing) in 2005, (audiobooks) in 2008, (leading book review, recommendation engine, and social media) in 2013, and (online comics portal) in 2014.

Amazon ventured into gaming by buying the leading game streaming portal, , back in 2014, for close to a whopping billion dollars, followed by (gaming social media) in 2015.

The acquisition in 2017 made waves because of the insane $13.7 bn. Then came home security systems with the acquisition (security cameras) in 2017 and (video doorbells) in 2018.

And of course, they have their own eBook reader (Kindle), smart speakers (Echo/Alexa), payment solution (Amazon Pay), video streaming (Prime Video), and music streaming service (Prime Music).

The story of Reliance Industries, spearheaded by the astute business professional and India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is no different. Over the last few years, and especially after the launch of their digital venture, in 2015.

Since then, there has been no looking back for Ambani. Jio has diversified into mobile wallet through in 2016, broadband services through in 2019, music streaming through the acquisition of in 2018, Jio Meet (a competitor to Zoom) a couple of weeks back, and a revamped version of (a competitor to WhatApp) just yesterday. They also have their own browser (Jio Browser) and their streaming service (Jio TV).


Let’s focus first on the commonalities between the two and stack them up to see who’s winning (at the moment).

A. Video Streaming

A of the Indian streaming market back in 2019 revealed that neither Netflix nor Prime Video was the leader. Prime Video had 10% market share (ranked #3), compared to Jio TV’s 23 % (#2) and Hotstar’s 29% (#1, another Indian homegrown streaming service).

B. Music Streaming

.

The leaders are all domicile players — Gaana (30% market share), and JioSaavn (24%). Global players Wynk and Spotify make up 15% each, Google Play Music another 10%, and Amazon Music (despite coming free with the Prime subscription) makes up less than 7%.

C. Retail (offline and online)

While Amazon is only present in online retail, Reliance has its foot in both online (through Jiomart) and offline (Reliance Retail, including Reliance Fresh).

Reliance Retail saw a spectacular 145% increase in revenue in 2019, clocking in INR 1.3 trillion, while Amazon India saw just over INR 12 billion in turnover (less than 10%) during the same time period.

The winner is clear.

The Indian business tycoon squarely beats the world’s richest man on his home turf.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by on

And it is not just Amazon that is feeling the heat.

Jio has already put multiple Telecom giants out of business in India. And the ones that remain, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (the latter being a merger of what were two of India’s leading operators a decade ago), live in a state of perpetual nightmarish anxiety.

The same is the case with broadband connectivity, where (51%).

It dominates the offline retail market. And now has ventured into through Jio Mart, adding to the woes of Big Basket, Grofers, and Amazon Pantry.

Reliance truly is fighting battles on every front, and on most, it is winning.

Image for post
Image for post

BITS Goa Consulting Club

The official blog of The Consulting Club, BITS Goa

Deepak Mehta

Written by

5x Top Writer on Quora (2014–2018), Over 100 mn content views. Writes about Life, Happiness, Self-improvement, Books, Pop Culture, and Current Indian Affairs.

BITS Goa Consulting Club

The official blog of The Consulting Club, BITS Goa

Deepak Mehta

Written by

5x Top Writer on Quora (2014–2018), Over 100 mn content views. Writes about Life, Happiness, Self-improvement, Books, Pop Culture, and Current Indian Affairs.

BITS Goa Consulting Club

The official blog of The Consulting Club, BITS Goa

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store