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Reliance Industries Eyeing Offline Pharma Retail with Chennai-based Online Pharmacy Startup Netmeds; Foraying to Strengthen E-Pharmacies Segment

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) is in cutting edge talks to get a lion’s share stake in online drug store Netmeds as a feature of its more extensive business movement.

Reliance Retail has entered the offline pharma retail market through its subsidiary Netmeds; the company has reportedly opened its first standalone store in Chennai. Until now, Netmeds was focussing on online sale and delivery of medicines.

Following its first store in Chennai, Reliance Retail also plans to open more than 2,000 standalone pharmacy stores in a year.

Analysts expect the e-pharmacy market to grow at 60% CAGR in FY21-25 to reach around $5 billion, as well as increase penetration to 15% from over 5%.

Along with conventional medicines, the pharma store will also sell alternative medicine categories such as Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy. Although opening offline stores through Netmeds will mark Reliance Retail’s official foray into offline pharma business, it currently runs around 1,000 shop-in-shop pharma stores across Reliance Smart Bazaar in cities, and Smart Point stores in towns and villages.

After the onset of the pandemic, Reliance Retail entered the online medicine delivery space in August 2020 by acquiring a 60% equity stake in e-Pharmacy startup Netmeds for INR 620 Cr. The digital commerce orders went up to 67% which is really the Omni channel play, went up 4X during the period as compared to last year.

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