07 Jul 2016 12:54 IST

Walmart shopping in India for scalable solutions

US firm eyes start-ups in areas of analytics, marketplace tech, supply chain management

The world’s largest retailer Walmart is actively scouting for scalable solutions from Indian start-ups to benefit hundreds of millions of its customers.

The $482-billion retailer attracts over 260 million customers every week to its 11,530 stores in 28 nations, and e-commerce websites in 11 countries.

The retail giant has been engaging with Indian start-ups through its partnership with the Nasscom Product Council since October 2015, but is yet to get scalable POC (proof of concept) from a start-up.

“Last year, we worked with four start-ups whose POCs we tested, and this year, we are working with two more. Unfortunately, none of their solutions are scalable enough to impact the massive customer base we cater to.

“Meanwhile, we are looking to acqui-hire start-ups. This way, even if we don’t find start-ups with great product offerings that are scalable, we can recruit good talent,” Jayakumar K, Vice-President and Managing Director, Walmart Global Technology Services India Pvt Ltd, told BusinessLine.

He said the company can spend anywhere from a few million dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars to acqui-hire start-ups or even acquire them outright if it can find a start-up with a stellar product that is scalable.

Analytics, marketplace technologies, content management and supply chain are the four key areas of expertise that Walmart is looking to acqui-hire. To do this, the company has the capacity to engage with up to 10 start-ups at a time.

Talent ramp up

In the first week of May, Walmart inaugurated its Technology Centre of Excellence for Analytics in Bengaluru, which houses Walmart Global Technology Services with a team of 1,200 engineers, who build brand new platforms and services on the latest technology stack to support both its e-commerce and stores worldwide.

This is Walmart’s largest technology centre outside the US, with a team of 7,200 engineers. “Bengaluru was chosen for its rich pool of tech talent in the areas of expertise we are looking for. We have hired 700 engineers over the last two years and plan to ramp up our headcount with 300 additional hires, primarily middle-level tech and leadership talent by mid 2017,” Jayakumar said.

The e-commerce technology team in Bengaluru is currently hard at work to deliver a “brilliant assortment experience” to US shoppers in time for the upcoming holiday season that begins before Thanksgiving Day in November and ends after Christmas and New Year.

“Walmart’s differentiator is our ‘Every Day Low Price’ offering to shoppers. This holiday season, US shoppers will see a rich assortment of products, where we guarantee that every shopper will find what they are looking for across categories at the price they are willing to pay for.”

The Bengaluru team contributed to Walmart’s recent launch of free grocery deliveries where customers can order online and pick it up at the nearest Walmart store or have it delivered to their offices or homes. The service was piloted in Denver and the Bay Area three months ago and rolled out this month to customers in Columbus in Ohio, Omaha in Nebraska, and Raleigh in North Carolina.

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