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Walmart turns to Flipkart for tech (factordaily.com)
118 points by NicoJuicy 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments

Whereas I agree that FK is right there when it comes to technology, this seems a little far fetched headline. 4 yrs back during a mega sale, FK servers crashed and they rightfully earned a lot of flak for that. From then on, they have been doing a pretty decent job (adopting actor model, PWA to name a few). But Walmart is also not living under a rock. I have consulted with them and they are just as good as any other Enterprise. Their biggest challenge is their vast team size with each group doing their own stuff in silos. FK will not help them address that

Flipkart does have a lot of expertise in last mile delivery and logistics. They manage to deliver in rural India where there are no proper addresses and infrastructure.

Plus, Flipkart likely has a lot of expertise in mobile as well, given how much of India's internet usage is now mobile-only.

I reckon that expertise is worth a lot for any company looking to expand in the developing world

> They manage to deliver in rural India where there are no proper addresses and infrastructure.

I don't think this is true.

You have to enter a pin code when you order from Flipkart. It's used to compute the delivery fee.

Flipkart also used to refuse to deliver products to some pincodes though the list of supported numbers has definitely expanded over the years.

In short, I don't know what their coverage level is, but it boils down to: you can't get a package delivered to anywhere where there is no post office.

In India, because of lack of infrastructure, you can order food from KFC without giving your name, address or any cash up front. The delivery guy simply tries to find the location you indicated and hopes that you show up with cash. I am guessing KFC simply pushes any losses downwards onto the branches or drivers.

It's fine for India, but I don't think a lot of the business models and know-how that works in India transfers easily to conditions in the U.S.

I live in Bangalore and it sounds like this is out of some kind of paralell reality.

KFC/pizza hut/dominoes don't set up shop in remote places 'without infrastructure'. It doesn't make "business sense".

They are mostly limited to cities. They don't deliver long distances, food delivery in general is limited to 2km, and they certainly don't deliver without a name, contact number and delivery address.

The point is you can give them any name, address or phone number you want. In most cases they won't even use the phone number, except for the driver if he can't find you when he is delivering the food.

How is this any different than the rest of the world? If you want your food delivered you should probably give them a findable address.

That is definitely not how it works, name address and phone number are mandatory with almost all delivery services. COD - Cash on Delivery is an additional option available because old time folks are not comfortable sharing their banking information with 3rd party services. Please take a look at Swiggy or Zomato.

So, going by that logic, since you can order from Amazon with any address, so Amazon delivery in America without addresses too

> They manage to deliver in rural India where there are no proper addresses and infrastructure.

'They' here means the transportation, not the marketplace. It comes down to the transportation to make sense of improper addresses and provide wide coverage.

Also, Ekart has a very limited serviceability and flipkart has to rely on third party logistics.

Serious question: what do you consider "any other enterprise" in this context?

Because the obvious comparison would be Amazon, Walmart's chief competitor, and I don't know how they could match that seeing how they don't have anywhere near the kind of expertise, experience, and investment that Amazon had for over two decades.

To me, it actually makes perfect sense for them to buy an Indian firm to become their tech lab. They don't have the knowledge or resources to even enter the field to compete for talent to build up their tech in the US - let alone win it.

FactorDaily is well-known for its click-baity headlines. They published an article about India's Shakti processor being an "ARM-killer" and the lead architect had to clarify this on HN itself: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15685019

This is 11 months old and according to what i see, factordaily has a lot of articles.

So, i'm not sure if one example can be generalized. Untill then, they keep in my rss list though :)

Their content is often excellent. It's just that they often go overboard with their headlines. Have heard this complaint multiple times in my network.

What a strange article - a discussion of Walmart's ecommerce technology without a single mention of its jet.com acquisition, which had over 1,000 employees in 2016 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet.com)?

The article is not praiseworthy enough to be a PR plant, and it lacks any substance from insiders. Seems to be tea leaf reading more than anything.

I'd also add that the acquisition cost of Flipkart was largely driven by direct competition with Amazon during the bidding process.

I was thinking the same thing, though I think Walmart is miss-interpreted they are not stuck behind the times when it comes to technology. In fact much like PayPal their infrastructure runs on Node (that way the front-end and back-end code is not so diversified). Now I know some people dislike NodeJS, but I hold the belief that programming language is irrelevant if you can be effective with it, and I noticed PayPal got much faster / stable after they switched to NodeJS, so JavaScript in back-end enterprise seems pretty damn effective.

Now if only we could just stop treating Walmart like an old lady who needs hand holding when doing technology and see their acquisitions as more than acquihires and more as investments...

> The article is not praiseworthy enough to be a PR plant, and it lacks any substance from insiders. Seems to be tea leaf reading more than anything.

So par-the-course for "internet journalism".

Walmart couldn't use Jet's technology in the US. What they want to do with FK is two-pronged:

1. Not lose, arguably, the second most important market in the world

2. Bring some of that web/app first executives in the fold and apply it in other markets like US or Europe. India is one of the few markets where a tiny company is still head-to-head with Amazon

Walmart has money. They just don't want their old execs to run the e-commerce show.

Marc Lore, the founder of jet.com, is currently the CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S.

Are you an insider? Where have you heard that Walmart was unable to use any of the jet.com technology?

Disclaimer: I used to work at Jet and am biased.

Not entirely true, but not entirely untrue either. In my opinion, lots of Jet tech was more stable, featureful, and performant than what Walmart had to offer. But in many cases, politics prevented them from taking full advantage of Jet's tech.

In my experience, Walmart tech was very resistant to letting Jet run services that the Walmart website had to rely on (not in all cases; pretty sure Walmart is using Jet's inventory system: good presentation on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSCzCaiWgLM). I think there was a feeling like we were encroaching on their territory. Think about it: Walmart buys Jet, Marc Lore is made head of Walmart eCommerce, layoffs happen on the Walmart side shortly thereafter. Not exactly something that will foster warm fuzzies.

Walmart also gets WAY more traffic than Jet, and I think there was a little bit of dismissiveness caused by that too. A sense of, "We are the big fish, we are not doing anything wrong, and we are just going to keep on doing what we're doing."

I'm sure there were other areas of close collaboration, but I didn't see too many of them. I haven't worked there for five or six months, so things may have changed, but that's how it was from my perspective.

I did love working there though, was a very transformative time for me as a technologist.

> India is one of the few markets where a tiny company is still head-to-head with Amazon

In what universe is Flipkart a tiny company? Sure, it's small compared to Amazon but that's because Amazon is a global behemoth.

Compared to Amazon sure. It is tiny, merely 1% of amazon.

My friends at Walmart says this is a BS article and asked me to call this out.

You don't have to have inside friends at Walmart to know this article is BS. I wouldn't be surprised if this was some paid placement by a PR firm hired by Flipkart to convince Flipkart engineers that their jobs were still safe.

> Flipkart engineers that their jobs were still safe.

I know a lot them are in limbo and already looking for better things.

^Total crap. Energy is definitely at its top. There are quite a few new initiatives with a hiring drive happening every week.

Walmart did buy Flipkart though...

Definitely not for tech.

So, what do your "friends" do at Walmart


On other note do you get money for posting links in hacker news? You posted 5 links in hacker news from this website in the last 23 hours!!

cc @dang

No, i have a RSS feed with a button "post to HN", which makes it easy.

cc @dang

But does Walmart understand why FK works and how to use it? Can they take that talent and apply it to US markets to give them a long term competitive edge?

Digging further, what business decisions got them into this mess? Will FK help them address their lack of vision or clarity around the new digital world?

I feel like many businesses look to some hot new tech solution for what are fundamentally pure business problems.

Akka, PWA and Tensorflow will not save Walmart from Amazon, if that is indeed the plan.

Anyone can buy talented engineers, but can you use them?

All the great tech guys are out of Flipkart long ago. Now they just have the crap.

I would not call FK talent cheap, running a service at that scale is no easy feat.

True that. In terms of technology PayTM and Ola were doing better than Flipkart.

+1 for mentioning PayTM, PayTM is improving silently which almost no one notices.

> what business decisions got them into this mess?

Flipkart is head-on competition with amazon in India. And Walmart want to do the same in US. So what is your confusion? Wallmart can definitely apply the tech from FK to US market.

My point was, it's more than tech. It's how your business is run, it's how you apply tech to business problems, it's your vision of what your future company looks like.

"Apply tech to the US market" is really just part of a larger problem. It's like moving to AWS and assuming your velocity will speed up because "cloud things".

If Walmart has a vision and innovation problem, I doubt the hot new shiny is going to change that in the long term. Many companies adopt some new tech hoping it will save them, not realizing the real problems lie elsewhere.

May be plan is to learn a few things about running e-commerce business from FK. US and Indian market differs a lot, but combined Walmart and FK can tackle that I guess.

Wal-mart is lauded for their tech but on a lot of aspects they are just like any other big, old company.

On the vendor side, we get bashed by managers that are reading reports that are over a day old, delivered by email. They run quite a bit of stuff on IBM hardware still, which tells me they have a lot of legacy systems running.

And they try to outsource EVERYTHING. EDI, order tracking/acknowledgement, their web portal is a clusterf--- that was IE only up until a short while ago.


I think the acquisition of flipkart was not for tech, rather it was for the User acquisition, the real and loyal buyers who are proved value users. aside of it, It was also beneficial as flipkart has its own logistic and order tracking system good enough for indian rural areas.

I work at walmart eCommerce and this article is just plain bs

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