Global retail giant Walmart is looking to engage more with Indian startups as it seeks access to innovative technologies for its e-commerce and supply chain operations through collaborative partnerships or even acquiring them.
Driving this initiative is WalmartLabs India, the technology arm of the retail giant set up in Bangalore in 2012. K Jayakumar, vice president and managing director, WalmartLabs India told FE, “We are already working closely with four startups to develop the proof of concept and will look at technologies which are likely to bring innovative capabilities for our e-commerce and supply chain infrastructure.”
The global retailer operates around 11,000 stores and has 240 million customers transacting with them offline and online. Besides, it also has 11 e-commerce websites which are engaged in various kinds of transactions.
Walmart, globally started engaging with startups around four year back and has made 15 acquisitions till now. In India, it kickstarted this initiative in October last year. However, it does not have any dedicated fund focused on startups.
Jayakumar said, “We are an internet focused idea incubator which is focused on solving the various technology challenges for Walmart.”
Walmartlabs India has around 700 people at Bengaluru and plans are on to take it over 1,000. The India operation is the first such centre for the retailer outside its headquarters in the United States.
Walmart is not the only non-technology company which is looking at these kinds of partnership with the Indian startups. Global financial giants such as Citi and Wells Fargo have dedicated programmes focused on Indian startups.
Wells Fargo’s global startup accelerator programme which picks up minority stake in startups has already got around more than 17 such firms applying for this initiative. Similarly, Citi’s mobile challenge is an initiative where technology companies can develop solutions which will run on the bank’s digital platform.India has over 4,100 startups and is currently the third largest startup hub globally.