US-retail giant Walmart is gearing up its India presence by expanding store strength from the current 21 to 70 by 2020. For this expansion the company will invest $240 million to $300 million.
“We have a cash & carry model and the growth has been good for us. We intend to raise the numbers from 21 presently to 70 by 2020. Each store takes nearly two-three years to set up and needs an investment of $8-10 million. These will create nearly 2,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Rajneesh Kumar, vice-president & head, corporate affairs, Walmart India.
Walmart’s technology centre in Bengaluru is also expanding its role and headcount. The centre which has at present 750 is expected to ramp up to 1,200 by March this year.
“Most of the growth at Walmart Labs here is driven by supply chain and analytics. The focus is to set up two centres of excellence. This will be from ground up. Hence the numbers will go up,” said Jayakumar K, ice-president and managing director, Walmart Global Technology Services.
Like retailers across the globe, Walmart too is working on a roadmap to merge its retail presence and its digital foray to become an omni channel player. In a recent announcement, that will impact its technology team here, Walmart announced the merger of its computer systems technology team and its e-commerce technology team in Silicon Valley, to create Walmart Technology.
Jayakumar says that since the announcement has just come in the immediate impact on India centre is yet to unfold. “What I can say however is that the combined structure is some sense already exists here. The Bengaluru centre is the only centre in the world for Walmart where both these teams work together. We not only work in the same building but have also collaborated on projects together. Interestingly we hope to contribute on how things will shape in future,” he added.
Walmart’s technology roadmap for its e-commerce foray has been undergone huge changes over the last few years. Two years back, the company changed the way it consumed technology from buying and using more off-the-shelf applications to a more in-house centric model.
“Two years back the application work ratio was 70:30, where 70 per cent was contribution from outside or off-the-shelf products and 30 per cent from in-house. We have flipped that and created our own platform called ‘Pangaea’. We have already started to roll-out that. This year will actually be crucial for us as Pangaea will be rolled out in different countries,” added Jayakumar.
Jayakumar believes that this approach allows the company to be much more quick and agile for launching products. “I think that is how the company is thinking when they announced the merger of the two technology groups recently. This could also mean that a lot of technology sourcing will be in-house,” he added.
Walmart along with focusing on technology is also tapping into the startup ecosystem. Since 2011 the firm has acquired 15 startups. “We had stated that we are looking into the Indian startup ecosystem as well for acquisitions. I reiterate that. This year we should be able to sign something on acquiring a tech company or an acqui-hire,” he further added.