Walmart keeps faith with Indian e-commerce

A group of investors led by Walmart has stumped up $1.2bn to help its Indian e-commerce concern Fliipkart counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown has hit Flipkart hard; along with Amazon, its principal competitor before last December’s soft launch of the Jiomart online grocery delivery service, Flipkart had to temporarily suspend operations after it was classified as non-essential. Walmart paid $16bn for an 80% stake in Flipkart two years ago and its willingness to put its hand in its pocket again during tough times will be seen as a vote of confidence in what is becoming an increasingly competitive business environment.
“Flipkart continues to leverage its culture of innovation to accelerate growth and enable millions of customers, sellers, merchants and small businesses to prosper and be a part of India’s digital transformation,” said Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International.
Reliance owner Mukesh AmbaniThat ‘digital transformation’ recently caught the eye of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who earlier this year.acquired a $5.7 bn stake in JioMart from one of India’s heavy hitters, Reliance Industries Chairman and majority shareholder Mukesh Ambani. Originally a JV between Reliance Retail (India’s largest ‘legacy’ retail operation) and JioPlatforms (the parent company’s digital services arm), JioMart has since been paired with Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service.
So It is game on for the Indian e-commerce market, and the resurgence of its rural economy makes it easy to see why. With more than 500 million active internet users, India ranks second only to China in the number of iys digitally wired citizens. It also recently passed a significant benchmark; last November, according to the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of rural users outstripped their urban counterparts for the first time, and it is a trend that seems set to continue.
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his Digital India initiative whose Digital Village campaign made the digitalisation of virtually every aspect of village life among its top priorities,  smartphone user indiaBy last year that had  spectacularly percolated down into Indian e-commerce. RedSeer management consultants, estimated that online sales during the 2019 festive period topped $2bn and, although that included India’s major conurbations and its tier-2 and 3 cities as well, the affordability of the products, the general reliability of the service and the launch of several Hindi-language platforms is also proving popular in India’s network of 640,000 plus villages. With the government now aiming to build 65,000 km of roads at a cost of nearly $213 bn over the next few years, the accessibility to  some of India’s remoter communities can only increase for delivery fleets.