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Online retail the flavour of 2015
Dec '15
In the world of retail, 2015 will be largely remembered for the likes of Flipkart and Snapdeal forcing the Ambanis and Birlas' supermarket chains to join the e-commerce rat race. While most e-commerce have a dubious business model that has meant no profits for any e-commerce players, Reliance Industries and the Aditya Birla Group have decided to launch the own online retail business.

Online retail was flavour of the year and e-commerce provided a big opportunity to retailers. Most retailers either began selling their product themselves or through a tie-up with a e-commerce players. By one estimate, more than 60 per cent of the brick and mortar retailers have developed their e-commerce capabilities, exemplified by retail chain Shoppers Stop tying up with Snapdeal and Amazon besides revamping its own website to increase its online sales.

Aditya Birla Group launched its e-commerce portal for apparel, abof.com as a one-stop fashion portal for apparel, footwear and accessories for men and women.

“With abof.com, we aim to offer a wide but curated range of merchandise and a differentiated shopping experience that can compete with the best in the world. We see abof emerging as the most admired player in online fashion within the next three years. … We see the potential to build another billion-dollar business of the Group in this space,” said Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla.

The Birla Group also merged all its apparel businesses from Aditya Birla Nuvo and Madura Garments Lifestyle Retail into one entity -- Pantaloons Fashion & Retail, which was later renamed as Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd while it fortified its traditional stronghold through consolidation, acquiring Jubilant Industries' hypermarket business.

In October, Mukesh Ambani, the country's richest man, announced that Reliance Industries would launch its e-commerce portal for electronics and fashion goods by the end of this year.

“Reliance Retail 2.0 initiatives encompassing fashion and lifestyle e-commerce, development of marketplace platform and building distribution ecosystem for Jio devices are on track and gearing up for rollout in a staged manner,” RIL said while announcing its earnings for July-September 2015.

RIL plans to launch its e-commerce platforms with 150,000 vendors. In comparison, Flipkart has only around 40,000 sellers on its platform and Snapdeal, around 200,000 vendors.

Indian textile major Arvind Ltd also wants to join the e-commerce bandwagon. It plans to start its online retail sales with two women's in-house fashion labels, Shuffle and Prime.

Spencer's Retail has acquired online grocery firm Omnipresent Retail India, which operates Meragrocer.com, to venture into fast growing e-commerce space.

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