Tata Group chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran speaks during the Tata Motors annual general meeting in Mumbai on August 3, 2018. Photo: AFP

After announcing its plan to launch a super app, Tata Group is now reportedly scouting for tie-ups in e-commerce, retail and consumer segments as online shopping in India gains traction due to Covid-19 scare and fast adoption of smartphones.

The salt-to-software conglomerate is in talks with e-grocer Big Basket and a decision will be made by the end of this month, Financial Times reports, quoting sources. Bangalore-based Big Basket is currently valued at US$1.3 billion and has presence in 26 Indian cities.

Tata Group is also in talks with online marketplace Snapdeal and business-to-business etailer IndiaMart, Economic Times reports, quoting sources. It has also set up a core group to identify and scout for acquisitions in the consumer and retail space, and is exploring various potential buy-outs in the hyperlocal space, the daily added.

The conglomerate currently has digital platforms run by different units. Tata Industries runs Tata Cliq, an e-commerce website and mobile application which sells apparels, footwear and electronics and categories such as accessories, home furnishings and jewellery. Trent, which runs Star Bazaar, has StarQuik, its online grocery portal which operates in places which have a Star Bazaar. Also, the group has a strong tie-up with Tesco and both had made fresh capital investments in the business in July 2020.

However, it is now seeking growth and scale through the inorganic route in order to catch up with rivals Amazon, Flipkart and Reliance Industries, which is currently drawing global investors for its retail arm, Reliance Retail.

India’s online grocery was valued at $1.9 billion last year, but it is expected to cross $18 billion by 2024, says consultancy firm Redseer. Reliance, Flipkart and Walmart have been bulking up their online grocery platforms by strengthening their delivery services.

Meanwhile, the proposed super app is likely to be rolled out around December-January. The range of services on offer will include food and grocery ordering, fashion and lifestyle, consumer electronics and consumer durable, insurance and financial services, education, healthcare and bill payments. Tata Group will merge its existing e-commerce platforms such as Tata Cliq, StarQuik, Tata Sky, and Croma into the super app.

Retail giant Walmart Inc, which owns online retailer Flipkart, is reportedly keen to purchase a stake in the super app. If the deal works out it could lead to the leveraging of the e-commerce businesses of the two companies.