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Walmart launching B2B e-commerce pilot in Hyderabad & Lucknow next month

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US retail giant Walmart plans to launch its B2B e-commerce venture in Hyderabad and Lucknow as pilot projects next month, reports Livemint.

Following the pilot, Walmart plans to extend this to other cities where it has a physical presence by January next year. The company currently operates 20 wholesale offline stores across eight states in the country under the “Best Price Modern Wholesale” brand.

From the looks of it, this venture seems to be an online extension of its offline cash-and-carry store format rather than a standalone venture, since the website will apparently be branded around BestPrice. Walmart India President & CEO Krish Iyer told the publication 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.

B2C E-commerce? What’s worth noting here is that the service will not be available for regular customers. This is probably because FDI is currently banned in B2C e-commerce format, while the government allows 100% FDI in B2B e-commerce ventures.

That being said, a source-based Reuters report from earlier this month, had suggested that the government is looking to allow FDI in B2C e-commerce format from next month. Therefore, it’s possible that the company will launch a B2C venture in the forthcoming future. Iyer has told The Times Of India that they will “explore it when the opportunity arises”.

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After a troublesome offline retail stint with Bharti Enterprises which ended last year, Walmart had stated plans of launching a B2B e-commerce platform for the members of its offline cash-and-carry format in April this year. This was 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.

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