Indian retail giant Reliance Industries has launched an ecommerce platform to challenge Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart in its homeland.

The website, named JioMart, will offer “free and express delivery” on 50,000 grocery products to shoppers in the Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan regions. The service is expected to be rolled out more widely across India following a pilot.

Unlike rivals Amazon and Flipkart, JioMart will connect local stores to shoppers via an app, rather than selling and delivering goods itself.

Reliance aims to connect as many as 30 million neighbourhood stores to customers through the venture.

It marks a huge play from Reliance into India’s fiercely competitive online grocery sector. The market is currently in its infancy, estimated to be worth around $870m a year. But only one in every thousand people in India use online grocery services.

As a result, analysts predict the market could be worth as much as $14.5bn by the end of 2023 as more and more Indian shoppers shift their spending online.

Amazon and Walmart went toe-to-toe to acquire a controlling stake in Flipkart as a result, with the latter ultimately coming out on top. Walmart agreed to shell out $16bn (£11.8bn) for a majority stake in Flipkart back in May 2018, making it the world’s largest ever ecommerce acquisition.

However, last year both Amazon and Walmart suffered a setback in their quest for supremacy in India.

The Indian government introduced new rules that prevent online retailers from selling goods produced by any third-party sellers in which they hold an equity stake.

The move was designed to give Indian companies an edge over their international competitors, who are increasingly pouring money into the fast-growing Indian market.

Reliance is among the domestic companies also seeking to extend its exposure to India’s retail sector.

The company’s core business is oil refining, but it also has investments in retail – it owns the toy chain Hamley’s and runs outlets for Hugo Boss and Burberry – and telecoms.

Indeed, Reliance is aiming to tap into the mobile phone customer base it has built up through Reliance Jio – India’s second largest telecom operator – to build its ecommerce business.

Reliance Jio has more than 360 million subscribers and has sent out invites to Jio users to encourage them to try out the new ecommerce site.