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To take on Walmart, Amazon in India, LOTS Wholesale to launch e-commerce platform in Jan

LOTS Wholesale Solutions, the Indian unit of the Thailand-based wholesaler Siam Makro PCL, will launch its e-commerce platform next month.

“The app is in the testing phase. By next month we will have an operational e-commerce platform,” said Tanit Chearavanont, managing director of LOTS.

The wholesale retailer claims to already have functional assisted e-commerce sales, where sales team collect the order from its business-to-business customers.

The company majorly deals in food items and plans to supply to kiranas, home-grown retailers and local suppliers in India. The company claims to source produce from the farmers locally. The company believes that omnichannel is the future of wholesale business and expects over 30 per cent of the business to come from online.

The online launch of its operation is also a part of the expansion plan to take on already existing giants such as Walmart, Metro Cash and Carry Alibaba and Amazon.

“The plan is to give our customers the option of both walks into our store and shopping online. We also offer the option of delivery the products at their doorstep,” he added.

To have a competitive advantage, LOTS is geo-tagging customers to understand their requirements and buying patterns. With repeat rate of 60 per cent, the wholesale retailer has 1 lakh registered customers.

After launching in January the brand opened its first store in July.  The wholesale retailer has two wholly operational stores, one in NSP Pitampura and other in Akshardham, in Delhi-NCR region. It aims to achieve store level profitability every three years after its opening.

LOTS plans to open five more stores in 2019 and achieves overall profitability by 2025. Every year it plans to invest Rs 200 crore in India and to continue investing the amount for the next five year.

In the last couple of years, Wholesale trade has witnessed a rapid growth in the country, especially after 100 per cent FDI allowance by the Indian government. It is estimated to be over $1 trillion market. There are around 12 million kirana stores and around 2 lakh hotels and restaurants for new and existing players in India.

On average around 45 per cent of stores are profitable at store level in the country. It won’t be an easy ride to grow and scale in as a price-sensitive market as in India. French retail giant Carrefour had a tough time in the country. And in 2014 it had to shut down its Indian operations. How Lots wholesale will fare, whether it will be able to keep up with demanding consumer market or not, only time will tell.

Apart from India, Siam Makro has a presence in Thailand, China, Cambodia and Myanmar.

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