The world’s largest retail chain, Walmart, will launch its online wholesale stores in India on July 1 in Lucknow and Hyderabad and later expand to other cities, marking its foray into the country’s booming e-commerce space.
“As an exclusive virtual store for its members, the e-commerce platform will provide a similar assortment of products, as well as special items,” Krish Iyer, Walmart India President and CEO, told HT. “We would expect to extend to all stores after we have successfully launched the pilot in Lucknow and Hyderabad.”
HT had first reported about Walmart’s online store plans.
Walmart’s plans come amid indications that the Narendra Modi-led government is likely to lift curbs on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail as part of a broad policy push to ease frayed nerves of investors and boost sentiments.
Under current norms, India does not allow FDI in e-commerce, but allows it in market places where third-party sellers sell directly to shoppers through e-commerce platforms and also in online wholesale stores.
Walmart, which last year called off its six-year old alliance with Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Group, is extending the B2B e-commerce platform to members of its Best Price Modern Whole stores, which would provide them with a convenient online shopping opportunity.
Walmart India at present operates 20 wholesale cash-and-carry stores under the “Best Price Modern Wholesale” brand. The company recently said it plans to open 50 more such stores over the next five years.
A cash-and-carry store is different from a retail store in that its customers are other retailers such as kirana store owners, restaurants, offices and other small traders. An individual cannot walk in and buy products from a cash-and-carry store.
Iyer said customers or members of Best Price Stores will be able to buy products online and get them delivered at their doorsteps upto a distance of 40 km.