It’s been a year since the global retail behemoth Walmart acquired the Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart. Judith McKenna, president, and CEO of Walmart International, who oversees more than 5,900 retail units and 700,000 associates across 26 countries, said she was ‘extremely excited’ about continual investment in India.
“Over the course of the next year, we’ll find some specific areas where we think there’s true value in, for both businesses (Flipkart and fintech startup PhonePe), and then we’ll go in a little deeper into those, rather than try to do too many different things,” said McKenna, who visited Flipkart and other group companies including fashion retailer Myntra and PhonePe earlier this year.
One primary focus for Walmart in India is setting up strong compliance practices and developing a robust supply-chain network across the Walmart India business.
“One of the other areas that we’ve been working on is compliance and making sure we bring world-class compliance to the business as well, which is an important part of the future journey, ” Mckenna said at an event associated with the company’s shareholder meeting.
McKenna paid a four-day internal business visit to Flipkart in this spring to interact with Walmart India’s leadership, executives and employees. This was around the time Walmart CEO Doug McMillan visited India, on the one-year anniversary of Walmart’s US$16 billion acquisition of Flipkart. During this visit, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy remarked that the joint the business venture is helping the company provide superior service to Indian customers and contributing to the country’s growth by providing products and solutions to real problems, including supply-chain infrastructure that is disrupting the retail industry to the benefit of local consumers, suppliers and manufacturers.
Hence, the primary focus for Walmart India will be using its expertise and know-how in global supply-chain development and implementing that process in India.
“One of the hallmarks for the future of India will be a strong supply chain across the nation –– that’s one of the areas we are experts in,” McKenna said. “We might not have the right answers, but we certainly have some folks who can help stimulate that conversation.”
That being said, the process and privilege of learning from one another is mutual for Walmart and the 10-year-old Flipkart. “There are a few things in the way they operate, which is very different from anywhere around the world. We are learning how to do that in the right way… They (Flipkart and PhonePe) are teaching us how to operate to scale without slowing down and how to go at speed. So, we both are learning as we go on this journey,” McKenna added.
Global executives are particularly drawn specific areas of expertise at Flipkart.
“What we are really fascinated by the (Flipkart and India) business is how customer-centric it is, how they use data in innovative ways to solve customer-specific problems for India, and also the talent in the teams there,” McKenna said. “I think PhonePe is a very similar kind of idea and I’m very impressed with the work they are doing. I think they can help inform us about what we are doing with the rest of the world.”
“The business has a lot of levers in it, and as we understand more about the business and are excited about the way Kalyan and Sameer (Nigam of PhonePe) think about their businesses, and engineering the business that will be sustainable for the long term. We continue to work with them.”