As soon as 2020 set in, everyone got a taste of exactly what Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani had in mind — a domination across India’s digital sphere. And while most of that digital play was currently being led by Jio, its is now Reliance’s retail arm that is springing into action. The retail arm — Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL) — has now acquired a majority stake in online pharmacy Netmeds for INR 620 crores (~$83 million). With this deal, the company owns a 60% stake in Vitalic Health Pvt. Ltd.-Netmeds’s parent company, granting it 100% ownership of its subsidiaries Netmeds,  Tresara, and Dadha Pharma.

This investment represents ~60% holding in the equity share capital of Vitalic and 100% direct equity ownership of its subsidiaries, viz: Tresara Health Private Limited, Netmeds Market Place Limited and Dadha Pharma Distribution Pvt Limited. The deal values the combined entity at $134 million, and also provides Reliance retail the option to own 100% of Vitalic in the future.

Isha Ambani, Director, RRVL, said, “This investment is aligned with our commitment to provide digital access for everyone in India,” leaving no doubt as to what the company’s goal is with this deal. Netmeds will help Reliance Retail (and the e-commerce platform from its sister company-Jiomart) expand its offerings, bringing it one step closer to achieving a Alibaba-esque presence in the 2nd biggest internet market in the world.

“The addition of Netmeds enhances Reliance Retail’s ability to provide good quality and
affordable health care products and services, and also broadens its digital commerce
proposition to include most daily essential needs of consumers. We are impressed by
Netmeds’ journey to build a nationwide digital franchise in such a short time and are
confident of accelerating it with our investment and partnership,” she added.

With this deal, customers of Reliance Retail will get access to more than 70,000 prescription drugs for chronic and recurring ailments as well as enhanced lifestyle drugs and thousands of non-prescription goods for wellness, health, and personal care. Netmeds, a service which boasts a presence in more than 670 cities and towns, alongwith serving over 20,000 pin codes,  offers a pan-India solution for the quick
online purchase and fast delivery of prescription medications. The company has managed to establish itself as a key player in India’s online pharmacy marketplace, and has already served over 5.7 million customers.

“With the combined strength of the group’s digital, retail and tech platforms, we will strive to create more value for everyone in the ecosystem, while providing a superior Omni Channel experience to consumers,” said Pradeep Dadha, Founder & CEO of Netmeds.

India has a rapidly evolving online pharmacy industry, which by the way continues to function despite the lack of clear set of regulations. The sector has managed to attract the likes of Amazon as well, which launched Amazon Pharmacy in the country, earlier this month. Moreover, the competition is just going to get tougher from here on out, as Pharmeasy reports a merger with Medlife, creating an entity that could be valued at about $1.2 billion.