Walmart launches digital training initiative in India

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is continuing to expand its focus in India with an interactive online training program for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) there.

The discount giant, which recently increased its multibillion-dollar majority ownership stake in India’s largest e-commerce player, Flipkart Group, is now turning its attention to the emerging nation’s small businesses. Chief Walmart rival Amazon considers India one of its key markets, and even hosted an Indian version of Prime Day in August that featured more than 90,000 local small businesses.

Walmart is now focusing on the Indian small business market with the Vriddhi Supplier Development Program. Launched in December 2019 and offered in partnership with Flipkart, the initiative features interactive online training experiences and personalized mentoring, with access to resources and experts to support growth. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the program was reshaped to emphasize digital experiences. 

In the future, Walmart says the program will offer a mix of digital and in-person training, mentoring and network experiences via physical Vriddhi Institutes when conditions are favorable. Walmart intends to enable 50,000 Indian small businesses to sell through new online and offline channels in India and abroad.

The program provides an interactive learning experience through online modules with a blend of teaching and assessment tools. Participants receive personalized feedback through virtual classrooms, formal assessments and one-on-one advisory sessions. Participants will also receive personalized mentoring and the opportunity to work with service providers and peers.

Subjects being taught include key aspects of business management, enterprise growth, customer-centric services, manufacturing best practices, responsible sourcing, and more. Designed by Walmart in collaboration with the program’s knowledge manager, Indian non-profit Swasti, the curriculum is tailored to the business challenges and growth aspirations of small businesses in the communities in which it is offered.

Walmart Vriddhi’s first all-digital e-institute will initially be open to small businesses in Panipat, Sonipat and Kundli, an area that is a hub of textile, steel and kitchenware production with a strong entrepreneurial heritage and a skilled workforce. Eligible small businesses can access the digital training experience through a mobile application available on iOS and Android in both English and Hindi. Vriddhi will progressively roll out e-institutes to other regions in India, providing tailored training, mentoring and ecosystem support.

In recent months, Walmart has actively worked with its various small business suppliers and Panipat-based businesses to help them cater to the rising demand for essential PPE and hygiene products. Flipkart Samarth has also helped local artisans, weavers and many rural and women entrepreneurs. Drawing on the e-commerce experience Walmart and Flipkart have in India, as well as in wholesale retail and sourcing for global markets, Swasti has extended advisory support to small businesses on financial schemes, government programs and business operations, offering best practices for business realignment and continuity.

“Walmart Vriddhi opens up opportunities for small businesses to sell into Walmart’s supply chains or the open marketplace, said Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International. “Wherever they are in their journey and whatever their aspirations for growth, that openness makes the program unique and puts the supplier at the center of everything we do. With today’s digital enhancements, we’re helping more entrepreneurs expand their capabilities and build sustainable businesses that add value to their communities.”