Wal-Mart Stores Inc started an e-commerce website to supply goods to mom-and-pop merchants in India as the world's largest retailer seeks to dominate a market it estimates will be worth $50 billion by 2020.
"The entire focus is on cash-and-carry," Krish Iyer, chief executive officer and president of Wal-Mart in India, said on Friday. "We have the team, and the size of the prize is big."
Wal-Mart is counting on its online operations to help fuel sales as it has been grappling with a slowdown both at home and abroad, increasing pressure to wring more growth from the internet. The Indian website is only for existing users of its members-only wholesale stores, and could help bring in orders from small businesses that are more than 20 kilometres away from outlets and aren't serviced by sales reps, Iyer said.
The retailer this month promoted Latin America executive Fernando Madeira to chief executive officer of Walmart.com, the e-commerce division that's leading the company's battle against Amazon.com Inc. Online revenue accounts for less than 3% of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based group's total sales.
The web-based ordering platform is being being piloted in two cities -- Hyderabad in southern India and Lucknow in the north -- and will be rolled out across all its stores by January next year, Iyer said.