business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From CNBC:

"Walmart is looking for new ways to woo sellers to its third-party marketplace, as it pushes to drive more online sales and close a wide gap with rival Amazon.

"On Wednesday, the big-box retailer kicked off its inaugural Walmart Marketplace Seller Summit, a two-day invitation-only event of how-to sessions drawing more than 1,500 people from businesses that sell clothing, party supplies, jewelry and more on Walmart’s website … The company on Wednesday also announced new efforts to attract and retain sellers. Starting early next year, its marketplace will expand to Chile, the first country beyond North America. It is increasing the number of brand shops on its website, a way for sellers to create their own eye-catching digital storefronts where they can highlight certain products.

"It is also adding an option that allows sellers to pay Walmart to fulfill online orders of bigger and bulkier items, such as canoes, or items that come in multiple boxes, such as a patio set. It’s also making it possible for sellers with a store to use Walmart’s technology to power curbside pickup or the company’s network of delivery drivers to drop online purchases at customers’ doorsteps.

"Walmart is ramping up its focus on its third-party marketplace, as the company chases higher-margin e-commerce sales and pledges to grow its profits at a faster rate than revenue over the next five years. To do that, Walmart is adding automation to more warehouses and stores. It has also gotten into businesses outside of retail that are more lucrative, such as selling advertising, last-mile delivery and fulfillment services."

It is not lost on Walmart that more than half of Amazon's online sales come from its highly successful third-party marketplace, which it is endeavoring to turn into a revenue generator on numerous fronts.  If Walmart can achieve this kind of distribution - which would be a long haul, since Amazon has a significant head start - it would be a real boon to its bottom line.

•  TechCrunch reports that Walmart now owns an 80 percent stake in Flipkart, the India-based e-commerce company, having spent $3.5 billion this year alone to acquire shares from various parties, including Flipkart's co-founder.

According to the story, "Walmart, which also owns majority of PhonePe and has spent over $20 billion on the two businesses, is ramping up its investment in the Indian e-commerce and payment platforms at a time when many other companies, including Amazon, have scaled back on their expenditures.

"To put this figure in perspective, Amazon plans to invest less than $2.5 billion on its e-commerce platform in India in the next seven years."