Online penetration for grocery to reset, aided by RIL's entry

New Delhi (IANS) Online penetration for the grocery segment is expected to reset to a higher level due to Covid, further aided by the entry of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in this space, according to a Goldman Sachs report on global internet winners.

"We expect Reliance to be one of the key beneficiaries of shift to online in this segment.

"For grocery, we expect online penetration to reset to a higher level due to Covid, further aided by the entry of Reliance Industries in this space," the report said.

"The biggest near term theme in India internet, in our view, is the foray of Reliance Industries (India's largest market-cap company with presence across sectors such as energy, telecom and retail) into ecommerce, and the company's tie-up with WhatsApp for online grocery," Goldman Sachs said.

It has forecast India e-commerce will reach $99 billion by 2024, growing at a 27 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over 2019-24, with grocery and fashion and apparel likely to be the key drivers of incremental growth.

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"Overall, we expect online penetration of retail to reach 10.7 per cent by 2024, versus 4.7 per cent in 2019," it said.

Growth in India's ecommerce is likely to come from better penetration into categories such as grocery/FMCG, improving payment ecosystem and ease of shopping though WhatsApp.

"We expect non-grocery ecommerce penetration to see a sharp increase of 500 basis points over the next two years to reach 16.1 per cent by 2021, for context, the last 500 basis points of increase took four years.

"While online penetration in categories such as consumer electronics is fairly high at 40 per cent as of 2019 (per Euromonitor), we see room for significant growth in categories like apparel, appliances, health and personal care, where online penetration in India remains materially lower vs. peers such as China," according to Goldman Sachs.

As far as incremental growth in ecommerce is concerned, grocery will be the biggest driver with 40 per cent contribution to incremental ecommerce gross merchandise value (GMV) between 2019 and 2024. Grocery in India is a $380 billion category as of 2019 (Euromonitor, GSe), making up 60 per cent of the total retail market, Goldman Sachs said.

"Overall, we forecast online grocery orders to grow from 50 per cent year on year for the last couple of years, but with the outbreak of Covid-19 resulting in shift to online, and the recent entry of RIL, we believe growth will accelerate to 81 per cent CAGR during 2019-24. We believe RIL's partnership with Facebook could result in the company becoming a market leader in the online grocery space, with more than 50 per cent share by 2024E. Having said that, we do see grocery as a large category for two or more players to co-exist over time," Goldman Sachs said.

The report said that the Covid-19 pandemic has driven a doubling of the penetration of ecommerce globally, accelerating the acceleration, and in some major categories, like consumer packaged goods, driving as much as 3 years of penetration growth in 3 months.

"We believe that a large part of this is sustainable, with a permanent steepening of the growth curve for ecommerce, and while we will likely see a near term decline as markets reopen, as the financial realities of fewer people in stores, particularly during key holidays, lead to even more store closures, we are likely to see a second wave driving ecommerce adoption above even current highs," the report said.

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