For Walmart, technological innovations come from India

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on February 27, 2019 Published on February 27, 2019

Walmart Labs India is Walmart’s only technology unit located outside the US. Representative image   -  Reuters

For global retail giant Walmart, most of the technology-led retail innovations come out of its centre in Indian’s own Silicon Valley, Bengaluru.

Right from innovations-related to optimisation of supply-chain or logistics to replenishment of products at the warehouse or at the retail stores happen at Walmart Labs India.

Retail-specific solutions

Walmart Labs India is Walmart’s only technology unit located outside the US. Set up here almost a decade ago, the India arm houses half of the global supply chain team and more than half of the data analytics team.

However, it is only in the last two years that the innovation centre is buzzing with activity with about 2000 engineers, developers and data scientists on job to create futuristic solutions for the parent company.

Hari Vasudev, Country Manager and Vice-President at Walmart Labs India, took over about a couple of years back and ever since things are changing. “In the last two years, we have seen a lot of momemtum. There is a great talent in India and we are ramping up our hiring activity with an aim to bring out more solutions relevant to retail business, globally,” Vasudev told BusinessLine.

He further added that most of the hirings would be done through acqui-hire, a concept where one company acquires the talent pool of another company and not necessarily the product. Walmart Labs has already made three such acqui-hires -- Bengaluru-based data annotation startup Dataturks,, a machine learning startup, and Appsfly an advanced integration platform-as-a-service built for connecting data sources, systems and businesses to drive digital transformation

“Our total head count is 2000 and we have doubled in the last one year. We will be doubling our investments year-on-year,” he said.

He further added that the team is also working on some India-specific solutions and will roll out a full-stack solution for Walmart India’s B2B stores, Best Price, by end of April this year. Many of these solutions would also be taken to markets similar to India, he said adding that the need of the hour is to look for ways that would make day- to- day operations more efficient which will then lead to improved sales and healthy margins.

At present, the India centre is working on solutions around machine learning, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to be deployed at stores in the US market. “We are starting to roll out robots in the shelves at stores in the US. Besides, we are also working on solutions that will do some smart forecast,”Vasudev said.

Published on February 27, 2019
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