US-based retail giant Walmart Stores has opened the first fulfillment center in India, in a bid to expedite its growth in the country.
The 45,000 square feet fulfillment center is located at Bhiwandi near Mumbai as per an ET report. The fulfillment center also is known as the ‘dark store’. It will stock packaged consumer products and home supplies.
The newly opened fulfillment center is aimed to serve kirana stores and other B2B businesses through online orders.
Commenting on the location of the fulfillment center, Krish Iyer, CEO at Walmart India said, “Metro cities are great markets for consumers but the availability of large real estate at a reasonable cost is a challenge.” Iyer further added that nearly half of Walmart’s sales are generated out of its 20-odd big-box formats through online and sales staff orders.
Currently, Walmart India owns and operates 21 Best Price modern wholesale stores in India, and offers nearly 5,000 items in a ‘Cash & Carry’ wholesale format.
After the physical stores, the company is now looking to operate an online platform without a physical store. Talking about the same, Iyer said, “The idea was conceived nearly a year ago and we first piloted it in Lucknow”. He further added, “Last-mile delivery and the time taken are a challenge but we have to manage that. We have promised delivery within 24 hours to our members.”
Talking about expansion plans he said, “We will open 5-7 stores next year and add another 8-10 in the subsequent year.”
On the other hand, in September 2017 Walmart’s arch nemesis Amazon opened its largest fulfillment center in India on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Over the past two years, Amazon has been aggressively investing in setting up fulfillment centers across the country to ensure speedy delivery to consumers. Currently, it has over 42 warehouses and 32 fulfillment centers across 13 states in India.