Meta and an e-commerce venture between India's Reliance Retail and Jio Platforms are bringing grocery shopping to WhatsApp in what they said was a global-first end-to-end shopping experience on the popular instant messaging platform.
The launch of JioMart on WhatsApp follows Meta and JioMart beginning to test an integration with select users two years ago. If successful, a commerce engine could prove to be a major source of revenue for WhatsApp, which has largely avoided serving ads to app users.
Customers in India will be able to browse JioMart's entire grocery catalog on WhatsApp, add items to a cart and make the payments via local payments rail UPI without ever leaving the instant messaging service, the companies said.
WhatsApp, which is used by about half a billion Indians each month, got the approval to extend its UPI-powered payments service to 100 million users in the country earlier this year after several delays and setbacks.
"Excited to launch our partnership with JioMart in India. This is our first-ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp -- people can now buy groceries from JioMart right in a chat. Business messaging is an area with real momentum and chat-based experiences like this will be the go-to way people and businesses communicate in the years to come," Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, said in a statement.
Meta is a significant minority investor in Jio Platforms, the country's largest telecom subscriber with over 421 million subscribers. On Monday, Jio also announced it will be spending $25 billion to debut 5G services in the country in October this year and aims to reach "every town" in the South Asian market by end of next year.
JioMart is the $221 billion Indian conglomerate's attempt at taking on Amazon and Flipkart in India. Ambani's Reliance Retail is the largest retail chain in the country, but currently it has limited e-commerce offerings.
In a speech years ago, Ambani, an ally of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, invoked Mahatma Gandhi and said, like Gandhi, who led a movement against political colonization of India, “we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonization. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian.”
At the company's general meeting, Ambani said Zuckerberg shares his vision of bringing more people and businesses online and creating "truly innovative solutions that will add convenience to the daily lives of every Indian."
"One example of an innovative customer experience that we are proud of developing is the first ever end-to-end shopping experience with JioMart on WhatsApp." Ambani said. "The JioMart on WhatsApp experience furthers our commitment of enabling a simple and convenient way of online shopping to millions of Indians."