Two months ago, when Natrajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, in an interview with UK-based Financial Times revealed the Indian conglomerate’s plan to roll out a super app, it caused a frenzy in India’s soon-to-be USD 85 billion e-commerce market.
While billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance has been working for years to enter this space, this was the first time that Tata, the USD 113 billion conglomerate with a sprawling empire across diversified businesses including automotive, airlines, defense, steel, FMCG, finance, hospitality industry, IT Services, and retail, publicly divulged its e-commerce plans.
Tata Digital, the one-and-half-year-old digital arm of Tata Group, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, is expected to launch the proposed super app by the end of this year. Its retail offerings would include food and grocery, fashion, jewelry, consumer electronics, consumer durables, financial services, education, healthcare, and bill payments, among other things.
This essentially means Tata will directly compete with the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket, Grofers, and Reliance’s JioMart, as well as other vertical e-commerce companies.
Laying the foundation
Tata Group has a presence in over 100 countries through its 30 companies and is popularly known for bringing global firms like Starbucks and Air Asia to India through joint ventures. It has a slew of successful consumer businesses including Tanishq’s jewelry stores, Titan watch showrooms, Star Bazaar supermarkets, and the chain of Taj hotels, among others.
However, so far, the company had been keeping a low profile, especially on its initiatives in the online commerce segment.
Although Tata-owned multi-brand electronics store chain Croma Retail has an online store since 2012, the company established an e-commerce presence in May 2016 when it rolled out an online platform called Tata CLiQ for apparel, electronics, and footwear categories through its business venture, Tata Unistore.