Reliance Retail will rebrand its 1,500 small-format Reliance Digital Express and Digital Express Mini outlets as Reliance Jio, which will be its front-end to sell both 4G connections and devices in the run up to the telecom arm’s launch expected in October, according to a report in The Economic Times.
Two senior industry executives on condition of anonymity told the newspaper that the retail push strategy comes amid slow sales of Reliance’s Lyf handsets. Distributors and retailers said they are hoping sales will pick up after the much-awaited launch of 4G services.
Reliance Jio will bundle 10 GB of 4G data free for the first three months with Lyf handsets. Eventually, the telecom company will also have the largest number of brand stores among its peers on account of this re-branding exercise.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned company is charging 88 per cent less than competitors for basic prepaid data services as the Indian telecom venture seeks to attract users in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.
Jio has priced data at 0.5 paisa per 10 kilobytes (KB), compared with 4 paisa per 10 KB at market leader Bharti Airtel Ltd. and other rivals. Call rates and text messages cost about the same, according rates on packaging for the service’s SIM card that’s being offered by invitation for a three-month trial.
The three large and the 70 small city specific distributors which Reliance Jio had taken from smartphone market leader Samsung are still continuing despite a fall in their revenues but they have been assured good business in the next few months, industry executives said.
“Stock has already started moving and we have been told to be patient for a couple of months for retail sales to pick up,” said a large distributor of Lyf who did not wish to be named. “While Reliance has built a good distribution network for Lyf handsets covering more than 1.2 lakh retailers in the country, the re-branding of its own Digital Express stores into Jio outlets will give the business an immediate uplift since several of these stores are in malls and prime locations and have already built up a customer base,” one of the executives was quoted by The Economic Times as saying.
Reliance Retail is the country’s largest consumer electronics retailer with 1,748 outlets in over 500 cities as of March 2016. The large format Reliance Digital stores will continue its existing format as multi-brand electronics store but will also sell Lyf handsets and connections among others.
The smaller rebranded Jio stores will sell 4G connections, smartphones including partner models of other brands and will also have a customer service operation.