McKenna lauds Indian techies' relentless passion to innovate

Walmart International's President and CEO cites Flipkart Group's Shopsy as a global first for Walmart in social commerce.
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"India is an amazing source of technology talent that is helping Walmart build a global business,” said Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International.

"It starts with the mindset," McKenna told Shradha Sharma, CEO and Founder of YourStory Media, at Converge@Walmart, a virtual conference on retail technology, organised by Walmart Global Tech India (WGTI). "What we are learning is this relentless passion to innovate, putting the customer at the centre of everything, and falling in love with the problem."

McKenna cited three examples of how products developed in India have had a positive impact on Walmart's businesses globally.

1. Shopsy's vision of 'distributed commerce'

Flipkart introduced the Shopsy app in July 2021. It seeks to usher people into ordering online, but nudged by people in their circles whom they trust, and who are familiar with online shopping.

Shopsy has an assortment of 150 million products, from which a user can customise catalogues, and place an order on other users' behalf, after sharing the catalogue online via WhatsApp or Facebook. The Shopsy user earns a commission on every completed transaction.

"It's a first in the world, where we have got into social commerce," McKenna said, adding that many traditional platforms around the world are exploring new models around social commerce.

"Shopsy here lets budding entrepreneurs start their own businesses. They can put curated catalogues of items for their trusted network of people, who can then order it without having to go online," McKenna said. "For the people who are listing the items, there is no hassle of inventory or investment."

2. Data algorithmic approach to sales forecasting

A technology team from WGTI built a data algorithmic approach to sales forecasting for Walmart's Mexico and China operations.

"This helped the company to reduce their waste, and improve the availability of fresh products," McKenna said. Fresh produce is one of the toughest retail categories with tight margins, in no small measure because it caters to perishable goods that have a low shelf life.

McKenna said the team that devised the technology approach saw it through in fresh produce, and deployed it for other areas of Walmart's business. Similarly, Flipkart's advertising platform has been repurposed for Walmart’s business in Chile, she added.

3. PhonePe's expansion as a fintech platform

PhonePe, which started in 2015 as a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) app, has evolved as a digital payments platform, McKenna noted.

"The kirana (shop) is being digitised, and the way that they (PhonePe team) have brought access to people to contactless payments, and services like financial services, mutual funds, and insurance... I have forgotten the whole list of amazing things they have been doing," she said.

The PhonePe model has resonated in Walmart's markets like Mexico. "They help to think differently in Mexico about access, and they have shared best practices for their digital payments and financial services platforms with the Mexico team, who are now building out their own products," McKenna explained.

The Walmart International CEO said that the company's data suggests that people, who began to shop online for the first time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are sticking with it.