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FLIPKART

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

Commentary: Walmart Acquires Flipkart – The India Scenario

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Putting an end to all rumors and speculations making the rounds about the Walmart-Flipkart deal, Walmart, America’s largest retail chain, on 9th May, 2018, finally closed the deal at US$16 billion by acquiring Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce platform

What’s the deal?

The buyout, touted as one of the biggest e-commerce deals, has led Walmart to own 77% stake in Flipkart. The association of the two players comes at a time when the Indian e-commerce market is bourgeoning and is expected to reach US$200 billion by 2026 (up from US$15 billion in 2016), increasing at a CAGR of nearly 30%. For Walmart, this is a great opportunity at the right time to grow its foothold in the Indian market.

As part of the deal, US$2 billion was the definite amount invested in Flipkart, and remaining US$14 billion was used to buy out other stakeholders which sees Softbank’s (Flipkart’s largest shareholder prior to the deal) exit from Flipkart, among others. The remaining 23% of the company stakes will stay with Binny Bansal (co-founder of Flipkart), China’s Tencent Holdings, Tiger Global Management, and Microsoft.

Flipkart and Walmart offer each other a strategic and valuable partnership. By acquiring Flipkart, Walmart adds Jabong and Myntra (fashion retail players), PhonePe (payment platform), and Ekart (logistics and supply chain provider) to its portfolio. Walmart can use them to its leverage in understanding the Indian e-commerce ecosystem and gain insights into Indian consumers’ online shopping habits. In return, Walmart’s experience in logistics and supply chain will come in handy for Flipkart to strengthen its operations, even further, in India.

What does it mean for e-commerce landscape and players?

Walmart acquiring Flipkart may prove to be a turning point for e-commerce in India. Small and medium sized enterprises are expected to gain from the deal. As Walmart grows in India, the company plans to procure products directly from local businesses and offer them growth opportunity by exporting their products to other countries via e-commerce. Even grocery suppliers and ‘kirana’ stores owners could benefit in the long run as Walmart may merge its cash and carry business with Flipkart, which aligns with Flipkart’s move to invest and grow its online grocery business – it launched a pilot program to sell groceries on its platform in Bengaluru in July 2017.

However, the deal has not been welcomed by online sellers on Flipkart and they are concerned about the future of their businesses. There is a speculation that with Walmart entering India, it may bring with it the already existing line of labels via Flipkart to the Indian market. This may not only increase competition among sellers but may result in eliminating some of the smaller sellers already present on the Flipkart platform by offering products at much lower prices.

But the most difficult challenge brought by the acquisition will be faced by other players, such as Snapdeal or BigBasket, operating in the e-commerce space. As Walmart and Flipkart ally together, having a proficient knowledge related to retail, supply-chain management and logistics, and with its tiff with Amazon, already a front runner, it is most likely that the competition in the e-commerce sector is going to intensify and players, especially small ones, will have to offer top notch service in terms of quality, price, on-time delivery, and possibly vertical or niche specialization, to survive the heat of the competition.

What does it mean for consumers?

With fierce competition expected to rise between the many e-retailers, it only means good news for consumers. Consumers can now expect new brands, better variety, and more options to choose from. In order to stay ahead of its competitors, players will be likely to offer better discounts which the consumers want.

Apart from better promotional offers, consumers can also expect better customer service and quicker product deliveries. Also, as the e-commerce sector grows in coming years, it is most likely that large players such as Walmart and Amazon would broaden their reach in Tier II cities, Tier III cities, and even rural areas, as consumers in these parts of the country represent a huge untapped potential for online sales.

What can be expected in future?

In the current scenario, this move brings with it both good and bad news. From a consumer’s point of view, evolution in the e-commerce space is great as they will now have more options at better prices to choose from. However from a supplier’s perspective, the pressure to offer good quality products at low prices, while surviving competition, will be intense.

The deal is expected to revolutionize the dynamics of online and offline retail sector in India. The e-commerce boom is relatively new to India and a merger like this signifies the enormous potential of the sector by offering new opportunities to suppliers and delivering more value to customers.

The deal is expected to revolutionize the dynamics of online and offline retail sector in India.

With the deal being finalized, one thing that is bound to happen is a head on collision between Walmart and Amazon to emerge as the leader in the Indian e-commerce landscape. To outrun its competitor, each player will rigorously work on improving its supply chain infrastructure thus can be hoped to create a good number of jobs. As the consumer demand increases, farming (through new grocery stores that Flipkart plans to open) and infrastructure sectors are expected to benefit in the long run.

At this stage, only speculations can be made about how much benefit Walmart will have by acquiring Flipkart. However, this deal has definitely paved the way for the growth of the Indian e-commerce industry.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

E-commerce in India – Unfavourable Business Environment

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In Part III of our E-commerce Challenges in the BRIC series, we highlight the challenges faced by online retail companies in India. Unfavorable business environment, profitability issues, consumer’s set notions on shopping are some of the key aspects that we discuss, in order to better understand where India stands in the e-commerce space.

Despite India being a rightful member in the BRIC group from the economic development point of view, in terms of e-commerce development, the country is typically not clustered together with Brazil, Russia and China. In AT Kearney’s 2012 E-commerce Index, India was not ranked at all, and the market is described as lacking the necessary technology to connect vast numbers of potential users to the internet, and extremely poor infrastructure preventing reliable delivery and returns. Opinions, however, are divided. According to McKinsey & Company, India indeed does have problem with low internet penetration and significant infrastructure barriers, but these issues are challenging, not disabling, e-commerce market.

Currently, Indian online retail accounts for around 1% of India’s overall retail market, according to Euromonitor, and is estimated to reach about US$1.3 billion in 2013. This might be far behind the market size of other BRIC countries, however, looking at the anticipated CAGR of 34% between 2005 and 2015 to reach over US$2 billion with expected share in overall retail to increase to 8%, it appears that the Indian market does have opportunities to offer. Some forecasts indicate a considerably more intense growth, even up to US$15 billion by 2017. The varied forecasts show how big of a question mark the market and its growth trajectory are.

One thing appears to be true though – despite still being a comparatively small market, potential long term growth might turn India into an attractive destination, with current internet users expressing strong interest in online shopping.

The market has the potential to accelerate, however, currently several challenges hinder its growth.

India e-commerce

The Challenges

  • Very low internet penetration – it is estimated that the internet penetration is about 12.5% of the population, far less than in any other BRIC country. Existing connections are largely characterized by low average broadband speed and unstable, often interrupted signal, which results in high online transaction failure rate. None of the Indian economy’s favorable economic developments, such as growing incomes and rapidly expanding middle and upper class, will translate into flourishing e-commerce market until larger proportion of Indian population is online and has access to reliable, fast connection.

  • Infrastructure and logistics inadequacies – given India’s vast size, order delivery is and will continue to be a problem, as the country is not able to develop road infrastructure at a pace fast enough to meet the demand, therefore is postponing investments in infrastructure in rural and remote areas (where majority of Indian consumers are based). Large part of investment in the e-commerce market goes into warehousing infrastructure, inventory management, in-house logistics and delivery logistics, as currently only in tier-1 cities (and in a few tier-2 cities), e-commerce companies can ensure relatively timely and safe order delivery. Infrastructure issues significantly affect the online shopper’s willingness to shop regularly, and many of them abandon their online baskets after seeing the estimated time of delivery. From the e-retailer’s point of view, all these issues generate additional costs, as they either develop own delivery capabilities or partner with several delivery services providers (who often also lack delivery management technology such as fleet or parcel tracking). Overall, it is estimated that the logistics costs in India are among the highest in the word, primarily due to large proportion of poor quality physical infrastructure.

  • Strong off-line shopping culture – traditional, often small, local retailers for years have been part of the shopping landscape, becoming the synonym of shopping experience for Indian consumers. While this is changing with proliferation of malls and organized retail, those local shops still are a tough competition for potential online stores, especially that they have managed to build lasting, often personal relations with customers in their community. These traditional shops are located in the customer’s immediate neighborhood, with some of them offering free delivery, which makes online shopping advantage of purchasing from home much less relevant. Further, consumers’ familiarity with traditional, off-line shopping makes them wary and distrustful of online shopping, due to a range of reasons: the products cannot be touched and felt, e-commerce and online consumer protection laws are yet to be developed in India, and online payments security is still far from perfect.

  • Challenge with achieving profitability – given the nascent stage of e-commerce development in India and the overall high price-sensitivity of Indian consumers, fierce price competition (or even price wars) have been present in Indian e-commerce space. Players attempt to outbid each other with lower price, to the extent that some of them offered prices below their cost. Players’ profitability has also been compromised due to the need to invest and develop overall e-commerce ecosystems, and attract customers to the very concept of buying online. This resulted in the market being plagued with profitability issues, even for the market leaders such as Flipkart, Jabong, or Myntra, with several market exits by players who were not able to continue operations in such unsustainable way. Over time this will lead to higher consolidation in the market, as further companies decide to exit, while the stronger ones (probably with better financial backup) survive and acquire smaller players –more than half of e-commerce companies are expected to disappear over the next 6-8 months. These developments might put a brake on price reductions, but will continue to make it difficult environment for new market entrants.

  • Dominance of cash-based transactions – cash payments by far dominate in India, estimated at 80-90% of all payments and more than half of online transactions. The use of credit cards has been constant over past years, estimated at around single digit percentage share of population using a credit card. The use of debit cards has increased, and currently some 200-250 million issued cards, however, majority of Indians are still uncomfortable with this way of payment, and often do not feel the need to use it. While cash-on-delivery could be an option here, e-commerce thrives in environments with high use of electronic money. For the time being, cash-on-delivery is quite popular, however, it is risky and costly for e-retailers, as they have to finance the purchase and delivery till they receive the payment, and as many as 45% of orders are rejected without paying, generating costs. In attempts to rationalize costs to deal with profitability issues, online retailers will have to start promoting higher use of electronic payments, however this might mean losing a considerable customer segment of shoppers who will continue to be interested only in cash transactions. Therefore, few players are likely to decide to make such a bold move, and cash payment will continue hampering e-commerce market growth and negatively affect players’ bottom line.


India’s e-commerce market faces a mix of common challenges which exist across the BRIC countries, and inherent issues pertaining to unfavorable business conditions. Consumer culture and infrastructure issues aside, the fact that the market has to compete almost exclusively on price is hurting the current breed of players, and perhaps forcing potential new entrants into re-thinking their business models. The market is plagued with logistical nightmares, in spite of the fact that it only caters to a minuscule proportion of the potential customer base. In view of the challenges, it is no wonder that there are such divergent perspectives on e-commerce’s growth potential in India.

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Part I of the series – E-commerce in Brazil – Marred By Political and Social Influences

Part II of the series – E-commerce in Russia – Strong Impact of Consumer Culture

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