Global Giants To Help Indias FlipKart Beat Back Competition

Financial backing from Microsoft, Tencent and eBay comes with tech and marketing expertise.

The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, is investing an additional $3 billion in its India operations, on top of the $2 billion it invested back in 2014; while Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba recently doubled its investment in Indian ecommerce firm, Paytm.

To keep pace with Amazon and Alibaba, India’s biggest ecommerce player, Flipkart, recently increased its coffers to the tune of $1.4 billion with investments from Microsoft, Tencent and eBay.

“Flipkart needs substantial additional funding to manage its still substantial monthly cash-burn and to compete—especially with Amazon, which continues to increase its market share in India and is now a very close second (if not already neck-to-neck) to Flipkart,” states Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of retail consultancy Technopak Advisors.

 For Tencent and Microsoft, Singhal says their investment in Flipkart provides them with a ringside seat to the development of ecommerce in India and a platform from which they can deploy their various services, for example, payment wallets and Cloud computing. “For eBay, which has struggled to make any impact in India, it provides an opportunity to participate in India’s ecommerce sector,” adds Singhal.

Singhal believes the new investors will help Flipkart to compete: “Tencent, Microsoft and eBay are very different from the current set of investors in Flipkart,” he explains. “The current ones are all financial investors—for example, Tiger Global—whereas these new ones are global technology giants that can not only provide capital, but also share some of their technologies with Flipkart so that it can compete better with Amazon and Paytm, among others.”