Walmart is planning to start an innovation lab in India before the end of the year to develop technologies to improve its online shopping experience to better compete against rival Amazon, according to a report by The Economic Times.
Walmart’s senior vice-president of global e-commerce Anand Rajaraman told the publication that the company has already begun hiring for its Indian office in Bangalore and is looking to staff it with 100 of the best engineers in the field. It is actively trying to woo talent from the likes of Amazon, Google and Yahoo, all of which conduct back-end engineering operations out of the city.
Rajaraman joined Walmart in April this year when the retail giant snapped up his company Kosmix for a purported sum of $300 million. It kicked off its @WalmartLabs initiative at around the same time.
Just like its Amazon counterpart, the Indian team will be tasked with developing technologies that improve Walmart’s e-commerce platform. The world’s largest retailer plans to close the gap with Amazon on the online retail front and Rajaraman said that “the India team should have ownership of some really key pieces of the technology we are developing” for that purpose.
It may be good news for the burgeoning IT industry in Bangalore, “the Silicon Valley of India”, but it is even better news for Walmart’s customers looking for a better online and mobile shopping experience and more integration between its online and brick-and-mortar storefronts in other countries.
Despite the opening of an office in India, there is no indication that Walmart is planning to start retail operations in the country, even though Amazon is gearing up to start serving Indian customers early next year.