US-based multinational retail giant Walmart is reportedly looking to partner with Indian e-commerce majors, including Flipkart, Snapdeal, ShopClues, Grofers and Bigbasket, to tap the vast potential of the online retailing market in India.
Amzon, Walmart's rival in online retailing, is already giving tough competition to Indian players, and has recently emerged as the most-visited e-commerce site in India, surpassing Flipkart and Snapdeal.
Walmart is said to be "actively considering" the idea of foraying into online retailing in the country after hesitating for a while.
"Several businesses in the e-commerce space have approached us to become our members, and we are processing those requests," Rajneesh Kumar, vice-president and head, corporate affairs, Walmart India, told Business Standard.
So far, no foreign multi-brand retailer has a tie-up with online retailers in India.
Walmart's operations have so far been limited to business-to-business (B2B) segment in India, selling products to businesses, organisations and educational institutes. It had formed a joint venture with Sunil Bharti-led Bharti group in 2007 but decided to go alone in 2013 by discontinuing in the venture.
With the foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail being capped at 51%, foreign retailers like Walmart should have a local partner to launch their operations in India.
In what could be a major setback for domestic e-commerce firms, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the agency responsible for formulating policy on foreign fund inflows, has told the Delhi High Court the marketplace model followed by online retailers is "not recognised" under the country's FDI policy.
The DIPP's stand assumes importance in the wake of growing fund-raising activities by India's biggest online retailers, such as Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal. These firms operate as marketplaces, connecting buyers and sellers, and currently foreign investment is prohibited in such type of businesses.