Walmart India’s B2B e-commerce venture has gone live at Bestpricewholesale.co.in, reports PTI. The service is currently available for the registered members of Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in Hyderabad and Lucknow.
Last month, Walmart had mentioned that it will be launching its B2B e-commerce venture in Hyderabad and Lucknow as pilot projects and then extend this to other cities where it has a physical presence, by January 2015. The company currently operates 20 wholesale offline stores across eight states in the country under the “Best Price Modern Wholesale” brand and hopes to open 50 more stores in the next four-five years, as indicated by a Reuters report.
As we’d mentioned earlier, this venture is essentially an online extension of its offline cash-and-carry store format rather than a standalone venture. The site seems to offer products from various categories like apparel & home, mobile & electronics, home care products, office supplies & furniture, beverages, packaged goods and imported products among others. However, one cannot browse through the products on the site without a Best Price membership (Strangely, the How to become a member page and the FAQs page are also behind a login page at the time of writing this article).
Walmart India President & CEO Krish Iyer had earlier mentioned that the site will allow members within a 40 km radius to purchase products and get it delivered or pick it up from a physical cash-and-carry store.
Walmart had first stated plans of launching a B2B e-commerce platform for the members of its offline cash-and-carry format in April this year, after a troublesome offline retail stint with Bharti Enterprises which ended last year. This was about a month after reports of the company launching an e-commerce platform in the country. Walmart had apparently setup a team of more than 15 people headed by Walmart India COO Arvind Mediratta for this initiative.
The company had also then requested the Indian government to consider allowing foreign investments in e-commerce, just like its competitor Amazon which has been continuously engaging with the Indian government to relax the regulations against foreign e-commerce companies and allow foreign direct investment in online retail.
It’s currently not clear whether Walmart has any plans to launch B2C e-commerce venture in the country. Last month, in an interview with The Times Of India, Iyer had given a boilerplate statement that they will “explore it when the opportunity arises”. Remember that FDI is currently banned in B2C e-commerce format, while the government allows 100% FDI in B2B e-commerce ventures.
Last month, Reliance Industries’ retail business Reliance Retail had also stated plans of launching e-commerce stores. It currently operates 1691 stores across 146 cities and claims to cater to 3.5 million customers every week.