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Flipkart launches Wholesale platform, acquires Walmart India

Flipkart has launched Flipkart Wholesale, an e-commerce platform for small retailers and kirana shops, the company announced on Thursday. As a part of the launch, the company has reverse-acquired Wal-Mart India Private Limited, the US retail giant’s Indian wholesale arm. Sameer Aggarwal, CEO of Walmart’s India operations, will continue in his role for some time, before moving to a different role at Walmart. Flipkart Wholesale is being pitched as an e-commerce portal for small traders and MSMEs to acquire goods online, and to provide credit to businesses.

Flipkart Wholesale will be led by Adarsh Menon, a senior vice president at Flipkart who has been at the company since 2015, before which he served in various roles at Hindustan Unilever for over a decade. “With the acquisition of the Walmart India business, its employees will join the Flipkart Group and the home office teams will integrate over the next year,” Flipkart said.

Earlier this month, Walmart led a US$1.2 billion investment into Flipkart, valuing the e-commerce platform at US$24.9 billion. Walmart owns a majority stake in Flipkart, which it purchased for US$16 billion in 2018.

Competing with JioMart

Flipkart Wholesale will launch in August, the company said. The service seems to be in direct competition with Reliance’s JioMart, which is also trying to woo small storeowners and kirana shops. Flipkart said it will initially start in the grocery and fashion segments on Wholesale. “Thousands of kiranas have already partnered with Flipkart to enhance their business and income streams,” Menon said, referring to storeowners who partner with the company for last mile delivery. Earlier this month, the company partnered with some shops to offer “touch and feel experiences”, giving customers previews of products that they would have to purchase online; this was announced in February, mere weeks before the lockdown, so it’s unclear if Flipkart has followed through on these partnerships.

Wal-Mart India operates Best Price, a chain of wholesale supermarkets with 28 stores and an e-commerce platform, both of which, Wal-Mart claims, serve over 1.5 million retailers. Flipkart operates Supermart, a grocery delivery platform. In June, it was reported that the company was looking to expand to on-demand delivery, competing with the likes of Dunzo and Swiggy. The company is reportedly relying on its acquisition of logistics company Shadowfax to this end.

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