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US-based retail giant Walmart is leading a fresh infusion of $1.2 billion in Flipkart, two years after it acquired 77% stake for $16 billion, as the battle for the online retail market gets ready for the entry of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. The investment — which will be done in two tranches this financial year — values the company at $24.9 billion, over 13% premium from $22 billion at the time of the acquisition in 2018. Walmart’s shareholding will go “little over 80%” with this round of infusion.

The companies said in a statement that “group of existing shareholders” also participated in the round, though it did not specify names. The remaining major shareholders include China’s Tencent and New York-based Tiger Global, both of which own 5%, besides Microsoft and co-founder Binny Bansal.

“Flipkart continues to leverage its culture of innovation to accelerate growth and enable millions of customers, sellers, merchants and small businesses to prosper and be a part of India’s digital transformation,” said Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International, in a statement.

Walmart’s buyout of Flipkart has been one of the largest M&A deal in India’s corporate history, but the company also faced setbacks due to changes in FDI norms for e-commerce in early 2019 which led to the company restructuring the operations. It has also seen exit of Group CEO Binny Bansal after allegations of improper conduct, while Kalyan Krishnamurthy runs the e-commerce business and Sameer Nigam runs PhonePe reporting directly to Flipkart board.

Satish Meena, the senior forecast analyst at market research firm Forrester, said the competition among Walmart, Amazon India and Reliance’s Jio Mart will get more aggressive that will play out in the next 12-18 months as the pandemic pushes online commerce growth. In terms of areas where Walmart’s new capital will be allocated, Meena said, there are three primary segments--grocery and food retail, digitizing small sellers and businesses and experiments around video and social-commerce. “They are looking at aggressive expansion in grocery, which wasn’t in focus earlier but that has changed after Covid-19. Their food retail license was not approved but they are rectifying it and you can expect significant investment to go there,” he added.

Flipkart said that it has surpassed 1.5 billion visits per month and reported 45% growth in monthly active customers and 30% growth in transactions per customer for FY20. It has 150 million products across more than 80 categories. TOI recently reported that both Flipkart and Amazon India have seen their shipments increase to 120-140% of pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels as consumers increasingly prefer online sales rather than venture out to physical stores.

Source – TNN

In January this year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had announced USD 1 billion (over Rs 7,000 crore) investment in India to help bring small and medium businesses online

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon has infused fresh capital to the tune of Rs 2,310 crore into one of its India units, Amazon Seller Services, according to regulatory documents. Amazon Corporate Holdings and Amazon.com.inc have made the Rs 2,310 crore investment in the unit, documents filed with the corporate affairs ministry showed.

The board of directors of Amazon Seller Services passed the resolution at their meeting on June 25, 2020. E-mails sent to Amazon India seeking comments on the fund infusion did not elicit a response.

According to financial data accessed by business intelligence platform Tofler, a significant share of the funds (Rs 2,309.8 crore) came from Amazon Singapore. The fresh funds will provide more arsenal to Amazon in India as the company has been aggressively investing in expanding infrastructure and adding solutions to enhance consumer and seller experience.

In January this year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had announced USD 1 billion (over Rs 7,000 crore) investment in India to help bring small and medium businesses online.

Previously, the online retail giant had committed USD 5.5 billion investments in India, Amazon's most important market outside of the US and a key growth driver.The board of Amazon Seller Services had passed a resolution in January this year to allot shares worth about Rs 2,208 crore to Amazon Corporate Holdings and Amazon.com Inc.

About Rs 355 crore was pumped into Amazon Data Services India as well. Amazon, which competes against Walmart-backed Flipkart and others in India, has also been pumping in funds into its other entities in the country, including Amazon Pay and its wholesale business

Source – ETRetail

Platforms like Amazon India and Flipkart are seeing 120%-140% growth in their shipments, surpassing January-February numbers, showing the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping in India

E-commerce companies have not just recovered, but surpassed pre-Covid-level sales as more people shop online due to the pandemic. The daily shipment volumes are back at over 3 million per day with visible signs of demand holding firm over the next couple of months, with people continuing to limit their visits to physical stores, according to over half a dozen industry executives TOI spoke to.

For instance, platforms like Amazon India and Flipkart are seeing 120%-140% growth in their shipments, surpassing January-February numbers, showing the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping in India. This means on top of the recovery from lows of April, when only essentials were allowed to be sold online resulting in business falling by 80-90%, e-tailers are now clocking higher sales than what they did before the virus outbreak.

“E-commerce has seen increased positive traction and accelerated bounce back when consumers have health and safety concerns for stepping out when cases are increasing exponentially. Ultimately, it will change shopping habits and some of it will definitely be irreversible,” said Sanjeev Mohanty, MD, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Levi’s. It expects its e-commerce contribution to nearly double in the near term, he said.

Source – ETRetails

Amazon launched its services for sellers on its Amazon seller website and mobile app in Hindi. This included registration on Amazon.in, managing orders, inventory management and accessing performance metrics.

Technology for MSMEs: In an effort to improve seller experience online by removing the language barrier, Amazon India on Thursday launched its services for sellers on its Amazon seller website and mobile app in Hindi. This included registration on Amazon.in, managing orders, inventory management and accessing performance metrics, according to a company statement. Amazon’s “hundreds of sellers”, who probably have Hindi as their native language, come from Tier-I, II and III cities across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana, and Himachal Pradesh. These sellers switched their accounts to Hindi during the six-month testing phase.

The new initiative is part of Amazon’s “efforts on vernacular, voice and video powered initiatives” focusing on “enabling more and more of Indian MSMEs to embrace e-commerce,” said Gopal Pillai, VP Seller Services, Amazon India. This gains significance as the company and sellers see recovery from the Covid impact on e-commerce purchases.

The option for customers to shift to Hindi apart from Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is already available on Amazon. The company said that over 50 per cent calls received by its seller support team (from its base of more than 6 lakh sellers) in the first two weeks since launch were from sellers who speak in Hindi. Amazon also has a library of 700 videos in five Indian languages to support sellers in selling online.

Source – Financial Express

The pandemic has made online shopping and digital payments more attractive to consumers. Indians have become leery of conventional shopping and are turning to e-commerce, according to a study conducted by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group.

The report, titled ‘Turn the Tide”, reveals that Indians are more inclined to turn to online channels than consumers in other leading developing economies such as China, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Across categories including household care, personal care, and food, Indians are the most willing to turn to e-commerce for their needs.

As for household care products, 33% of respondents in India expect to buy them online in the next one month compared with 19% in China, 18% in Indonesia, 4% in Brazil and 9% in Thailand. However, the Philippines saw a 6% decline. Similarly, for personal care (44%), fresh food (31%) and packaged food categories (34%), Indian respondents led the table. However, Indonesia (47%) upstaged India (43%) in health supplements.

The risk of contracting the virus while stepping out of their homes and making purchases at crowded markets and department stores has attracted many first-time users to online shopping.

The report also said that around 50% of consumers expect to increase their e-commerce spending in the coming month, even for traditionally offline product categories such as vitamins, supplements, personal care products, cosmetics, and non-prescription medicines.

Source – Asia Times

E-commerce giant Amazon has launched an India first initiative ‘Local shops on Amazon’, a program to enable small shops and retailers to sell their products online.

The program looks to enroll local shops and retailers of any size across categories and help them deliver to customers using Amazon’s last-mile reach, said Gopal Pillai, Amazon India’s vice president of seller services, in a blog.

Additionally, it will allow the shopkeepers to choose the areas where they can deliver on the same day or the next day, with pin-code level granularity. Local shops are required to update the delivery details to the customers and Amazon using the newly launched ‘Amazon Delivery App’.

The launch is after a six-month pilot with 5,000-plus local shops and retailers from across 100 tier-1 and tier-2 cities. The company would also invest Rs 10 crore to immediately expand its pilot to onboard and train any retailer or shopkeeper willing to be part of the program.

For now, the program is for essential products and the real expansion will take place once the lockdown restrictions get relaxed, the blog post said.

It’s not the first time Amazon has initiated work with neighborhood or kirana stores. In January, the company had announced the “I have space” program where it had partnered with neighborhood stores across India to use them to store and deliver goods.

On Wednesday, Facebook had invested $5.7 billion in Jio to build on the reach of Jio in India’s hinterland and its digital might. And in a separate commercial deal, Jio platforms, Reliance Retail, and WhatsApp have also entered into a commercial partnership under which Reliance Retail’s new commerce business would be accelerated on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp.

With the entry of Amazon and the eventual availability of JioMart stores on WhatsApp, the last mile grocery delivery business will be fought and won by onboarding the many local kirana stores. The pandemic may have just triggered a booming business model for the many small shops and retailers across India


Mumbai-based beauty and skincare startup Nykaa said Tuesday it had raised 1 billion rupees ($13 million) in fresh funding led by existing investor Steadview Capital.

This comes at a time when venture capital investments are expected to slow down due to the global spread of COVID-19 and as investors look to back companies that offer essential services or products, with the coronavirus pandemic likely to have an adverse effect on discretionary spending.

"We are very grateful to achieve this significant milestone. We deeply value the trust and support of our investors, customers and brand partners who have been instrumental to our success. In the midst of this unprecedented global crisis we are working to ensure all our stakeholders are well served and that Nykaa emerges as a leading retail player in the industry," Falguni Nayar,

founder and CEO of Nykaa, said in a press statement.

Founded in 2012 by Nayar, a former investment banker, Nykaa is one of the few profitable startups in India. It reported a net profit of $303,000 in the financial year ending March 31, 2019.

The eight-year-old omnichannel company that sells beauty and skincare products through retail stores and its online platform, raised $14 million last year led by TPG Growth. The company has now raised a total of about $120 million from a dozen investors including Steadview Capital, TPG Growth and Sharrp Ventures. It operates more than 50 physical stores across the country and claims to have products from more than 1,000 brands on its online platform.

Due to the announcement last week of a 21-day lockdown in India to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, Nykaa has temporarily suspended all operations and informed its vendors and business partners that payments would face delays.

The company competes with vertical online platforms such as Purplle, MyGlamm, personal haircare brand Bare Anatomy and Grofers' private label Orange Something. In the horizontal e-commerce space, it competes with the likes of Amazon India and Flipkart.

Source – Nikkie ASIAN REVIEW.

Some of the large retailers are re-designing their own e-stores and apps, while looking to partner with marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. They are also exploring partnership opportunities with hyperlocal delivery players the way food-and-grocery retailers undertook

With the government allowing e-commerce as an exempted sector in Lockdown 2.0, brick-and-mortar retail chains are scrambling to spruce up their digital sales initiatives to make the most of this lifeline.

Leading retailers such as Reliance Retail, Lifestyle, Levi Strauss, Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, Arvind Fashions, Vijay Sales and Great Eastern Retail said they are going to expand their initiatives on online sales when the restrictions are eased on online sales of non-essentials from April 21.

“With e-commerce, at least we have some opening now which is a one positive step,” said J Suresh, MD at Arvind Fashions which runs stores of multiple brands like US Polo Assn, Sephora, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. “Our full focus will now be on scaling up our digital presence and app,” he said.

Some of the large retailers are re-designing their own e-stores and apps, while looking to partner with marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. They are also exploring partnership opportunities with hyperlocal delivery players the way food-and-grocery retailers undertook.

Sanjeev Mohanty, MD (South Asia, Middle East & North Africa) at Levi Strauss, said the spring and summer inventory is already there with e commerce partners like Flipkart, Myntra, AJIO and Amazon. "Demand generation will be the key and our partners are very good at that," he said.

The relief from the government comes at a time when retailers have been struggling with high over-heads and no revenue due to the lockdown. The government has still not indicated when shopping malls and non-essential physical stores can open, while the lockdown has been extended till May 3.

E-commerce accounts for single digit contribution to sales for most brands whereby scaling up will also take time. However, the industry was preparing for this scenario since even after malls open there is unlikely to be a rush of consumers in fear of catching the virus.

Industry body Retailers Association of India CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said it has reached out to government to include home delivery and not just e-commerce so that even the small and medium retailers can deliver to home. He said the large chains are already on e-commerce.

Source – Economic Time Retail.com

After announcing a credit service allowing instant credit at zero per cent interest for products bought on Amazon India, e-commerce giant Amazon may soon be faced with competition from WhatsApp, whose parent company has also expressed interest in offering credit facilities to customers in India.

On Wednesday, Amazon opened up its Pay Later facility for lakhs of customers in India. The move is likely to help customers hit by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

The facility allows customers to pay bills or buy essentials, electronics and clothing items via zero-interest credit, provided the amount is paid the next month; barring which, the amount can get converted to EMIs up to 12 months at “nominal interest rates”. Amazon already offers no-cost EMI on select products.

“As a pilot, this unique service was available to a small set of customers and Amazon Pay has now extended this service to lakhs of eligible customers. Amazon Pay has partnered with Capital Float and The Karur Vysya Bank(KVB) to design and enable ‘Amazon Pay Later’ service for its eligible customers,” Amazon India said in a blog post.

The company says credit can be availed without needing a credit card, for amounts up to Rs 20,000. In the FAQs on Pay Later availability, it says that EMIs for amounts up to Rs 60,000 can be available for periods up to six months.

Registration requirements include completing KYC for Amazon Pay via the mobile app, with inputting the PAN card number being mandatory. However, Amazon will only offer the feature to customers it deems eligible.

In a statement, Mahendra Nerurkar, Amazon Pay India CEO, says the facility is a "unique service that will help customers expand their access to credit and experience most convenient option of making payments".

Meanwhile, according to TechCrunch, WhatsApp is also considering launching credit facilities in India, based on regulatory filings accessed by the news website which listed offering credit or loans as one of the “main objects to be pursued by it in the country” for Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

However, WhatsApp has yet to receive permission to completely roll out its Pay services in India, which have so far been limited to a pilot project of one million users, later extended to ten million in February.

According to market research firm Forrester, 94 per cent of Indians in metro cities are now using digital retail payments, with the number of online buyers expected to grow at 17 per cent annually from 2018 to 2023.

Source – Economic Times Retail.com