‘No exclusive tieup between WhatsApp and JioMart’Mumbai | Kolkata: Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp is unlikely to have an exclusive partnership with any retailer or organisation which wants to use the platform for connecting with consumers to place orders, avail services or for customer service, three industry executives said.

Two senior executives with leading e-commerce marketplaces flagged privacy concerns on closer integration with WhatsApp apart from the fact that it is now their competitor due to stake in Jio.

Hence, even the partnership with Reliance’s e-commerce platform JioMart will not be exclusive, they said. WhatsApp already has similar partnerships with several retailers such as Spencer’s Retail and Sangeetha Mobiles.

This is despite Facebook owning 9.99% in Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries which controls the entire digital business. As part of the deal, Facebook invested ₹43,574 crore last year into Jio Platforms.

WhatsApp has been in the news recently over changes in their privacy policies on sharing user data whose implementation has been delayed by the company by three months to May.

JioMart, like other organisations using WhatsApp commercially, will have a number which consumers will have to save on their mobile phone and then connect through WhatsApp to place orders.

The executives said it has already completed such a pilot last year in Mumbai where consumers could have ordered products using WhatsApp.

The JioMart app will not be embedded into WhatsApp, they said.

Currently JioMart runs a customer support service through the WhatsApp platform. As per plans, JioMart may launch a nationwide WhatsApp ordering system whereby the orders would be sent to the nearest kirana who would partner with JioMart and do the final fulfilment.

An email sent to Reliance remained unanswered till Monday press time. A WhatsApp spokesperson said through our investment with Jio, we are going to bring millions of small businesses and the customers they serve into the digital economy. “This will make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers and close sales,” the person said. In a press release issued by Reliance last April on the Facebook deal, it said as part of the investment Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and WhatsApp have entered into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp.

“WhatsApp already plays an important role in helping people and businesses connect in India…The companies will work closely to ensure that consumers are able to access the nearest kiranas who can provide products and services to their homes by transacting seamlessly with JioMart using WhatsApp,” it had said.

The director of a leading electronics retail chain said while it too was planning to sell through WhatsApp but has now temporarily put the project on hold due to the hue and cry on privacy.

Nikhil Pahwa, founder of MediaNama, said if it’s just another chat bot where you are engaging with business and this service is available to any other enterprise then there is no concern regarding special treatment for JioMart. “Concern arises if JioMart gives its customer data to Jio – the telco or the telco is giving its subscriber data to JioMart or WhatsApp,” he said.





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