Walmart’s Flipkart is Amazon’s India competition

Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

In October 2016, employees at Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company, prepared for its upcoming Big Billion Days Sale as if it were a battle. Conference rooms in the company’s Bengaluru headquarters were renamed “war rooms.” Employees stayed overnight for days at a time, awaking from mattresses and beanbags to finish an app redesign, stress-test their systems, and have frantic last-minute calls with brands, sellers, and warehouse workers.

It was a tense time, but several young staffers told Rest of World they felt like they were involved in something momentous. “It’s cliched to say this, but during the sale, you really feel like you’re part of a family,” said one former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The 2016 sale was a critical moment for Flipkart. Its status as India’s most valuable startup and e-commerce leader had long gone unchallenged. But a series of missteps had allowed global behemoth Amazon, then a relative newcomer to the Indian market, to catch up. The U.S. giant’s momentum was such that many investors and analysts at the time quipped, “The Amazon of India will be Amazon.”

As sales season approached, everyone was closely watching the showdown: Amazon was holding its Great Indian Festival at the same time as Flipkart’s Big Billion Days Sale. E-commerce investors, analysts, and executives believed an Amazon victory could set in motion Flipkart’s irreversible decline. Would the pride of the local tech scene, the success story that had inspired Indian entrepreneurs to dream bigger than call centers and other outsourcing work, be toppled?

In an effort to turn the tide, Flipkart’s investors had acted against the founders’ wishes and parachuted in an executive, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, four months before the sale. He was given a vague title, a broad remit, and an urgent command: Beat Amazon.

“2016 was more of a bit of a wartime for us,” Krishnamurthy, now the CEO of Flipkart Group, told Rest of World in a recent interview.

Krishnamurthy had a simple approach for the sale: Go all-in on smartphones. The company offered customers interest-free loans and Krishnamurthy personally visited the offices of phone brands to make exclusive sales deals. One Flipkart executive who worked with him at the time recalled him pleading with a phone manufacturer, “Give me a chance.”

His strategy worked. In terms of gross merchandise value (GMV) — the total value of goods sold — Flipkart achieved a 50% market share during the sale, compared to Amazon’s 32%, according to market research firm RedSeer. Amazon was rattled. One former executive in Amazon’s payments unit told Rest of World that within the company, some leaders still regard this period as a missed opportunity to kill off Flipkart.

But, despite this success, Flipkart wasn’t out of the woods. It was much smaller than hoped for, and still incurring huge losses. Regular infusions of fresh capital would be unavoidable if it were to stay ahead of Amazon.

Luckily for Flipkart, its sales victory was enough to pique the interest of an old suitor. Walmart, the U.S. retail giant, had been searching for a foothold in the Indian retail market for a while and had previously discussed investing in Flipkart. Now, it contemplated an acquisition. In May 2018, after more than half a year of negotiations, Walmart agreed to pay $16 billion for a 77% stake in Flipkart. It remains Walmart’s biggest-ever deal.

Analysts widely considered the acquisition a risky endeavor, reasoning that Walmart, which had no track record of e-commerce success, had overpaid for an unprofitable company operating in a tricky market overseen by hostile regulators. Walmart’s stock price dropped 3% on the day of the announcement.


Employees at work in Flipkart’s headquarters in Bengaluru, India in 2017.

Abhishek Goyal, a former executive at one of Flipkart’s earliest backers, Accel Partners, told Rest of World that Walmart paid a “very high price” for Flipkart, but that it was a deal “they had to do.” Amazon had also been showing interest in acquiring its competitor. “If Amazon would’ve bought Flipkart, it would have put Walmart in a very difficult spot because there’s no [other] such asset available globally,” he said.

Nearly five years later, the wisdom of Walmart’s wager has partially borne out, with Flipkart nearly doubling in value and comfortably holding onto its market leadership. At the same time, the company is still far from profitable, despite a desire to list its shares, and the expansion of India’s approximately $64 billion online shopping market has not maintained its pandemic-era pace. Meanwhile, competition from domestic conglomerates, who enjoy government backing, is intensifying.

Rest of World spoke with current and former Flipkart employees, rivals, and e-commerce consultants — including some interviews from prior reporting for Big Billion Startup: The Untold Flipkart Story — to get an inside view on how Flipkart has evolved since the Walmart deal, and where it could go next. Today, Amazon is the e-commerce leader in almost all of its major markets. Thanks to Flipkart, under Krishnamurthy’s leadership, India has remained an exception.

“The task given to Kalyan was very straightforward: You have to keep beating Amazon,” Satish Meena, an independent e-commerce consultant, told Rest of World.


Company Name:
Bengaluru, India
Kalyan Krishnamurthy
Sold to Walmart at a valuation of $21 billion in May 2018
Registered Users:
450 million+
2021 Gross merchandise value (estimate, includes Myntra):
$23 billion

Flipkart has been inextricably linked to Amazon since its inception. Flipkart’s founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (no relation to each other), worked at Amazon’s India office in the mid 2000s. When Amazon decided against launching e-commerce services in the country, they, like many colleagues, left to build companies of their own. They started Flipkart in 2007, and modeled it after Amazon.

Initially, the Bansals were confronted with skeptical investors. Goyal, now co-founder at Tracxn Technologies, a financial data platform, told Rest of World venture funds believed that engineers like the Bansals weren’t fit to run complex retailing operations, and that e-commerce wasn’t viable in India due to the country’s lack of good roads, suitable warehouses, and trained delivery drivers. “The e-commerce market was very small,” he said. “People thought it’ll take them 15 years [to build a large e-commerce business] instead of the 5-6 years that they ended up taking.” In 2009, Goyal’s former company, Accel Partners, invested.

A bigger boost came later that year. Lee Fixel, a young fund manager at U.S. investment firm Tiger Global, saw in Flipkart an opportunity to expand his company’s India portfolio. Finding no other way to get in touch, Fixel reached out by calling Flipkart’s customer support line. The Bansals initially thought it was a prank.

After eventually being introduced to them by a mutual acquaintance, Fixel was so impressed that he agreed to invest $10 million, jumpstarting Flipkart’s explosive growth. With its English-language website, Flipkart targeted young, well-off urbanites and sold a range of items that expanded from books to include clothing, electronics, and more. Superior customer service and a more reliable delivery system allowed the startup to outcompete local challengers. Sales at one of Flipkart’s main entities quadrupled in the first full financial year after Fixel’s investment, official filings in India show.

Amazon, noticing Flipkart’s rise, first tried to buy the startup in 2011, but backed off at the price demanded by the founders. Three people close to the negotiations recalled an Amazon leader telling the Bansals, “What is [it] that you’ve built? We can do all this in a month.”


Sachin Bansal, co-founded Flipkart in 2007 and helped run the company for 11 years.

Amazon launched its own India service in 2013, which then-CEO Jeff Bezos designated a top priority. He commanded his team to behave like cowboys and charge ahead without concern for burning cash, according to a former executive who was part of Amazon India’s launch team and requested anonymity so as to not affect his business relationships. Amazon was losing out in China, and Bezos seemed loath to let another billion potential customers slip through his fingers. Amazon did not reply to requests for comment.

On July 29, 2014, Flipkart made Indian history by raising a record $1 billion — an event that helped trigger an unprecedented funding boom for startups in the country. Then-CEO Sachin Bansal predicted that his business, which had generated an annualized GMV of $1 billion only a few months earlier, would grow quickly. “We believe India can produce a $100 billion company in the next five years, and we want to be that,” he said during a press conference.

Few thought the ambition implausible. If China could produce behemoths like Alibaba and, why not India? A day later, Bezos upped the stakes, pledging that Amazon would invest $2 billion to expand its India business.

It was during this period that Flipkart tripped up, according to an executive at the time who requested anonymity because they had signed a non-disclosure agreement. Sachin Bansal, obsessed with turning Flipkart from a retailer into a tech firm, reduced its in-house logistics and diverted resources from the website to the app, both of which proved to be costly mistakes.

In January 2016, Binny Bansal replaced Sachin Bansal as Flipkart’s CEO, but he couldn’t halt the slide. Amazon approached, and in mid-2016, briefly overtook Flipkart in terms of GMV, according to media reports based on the companies’ internal figures.

Tiger Global’s Fixel stepped in and gave Krishnamurthy, his then-junior colleague at the firm, a vaguely defined but powerful role as Flipkart’s head of category design organization. It proved to be a winning move.

Krishnamurthy enjoyed a fast rise at Flipkart. By 2017, apart from the eponymous e-commerce platform, Flipkart also owned fashion retail sites Myntra and Jabong, and a payments app, PhonePe. In January that year, Binny Bansal became Group CEO, and Krishnamurthy, in recognition of his Big Billion Days performance, was made CEO of Flipkart, the prized asset. Though he reported to Bansal, the board handed him substantial autonomy.

Krishnamurthy used it to reshape the company in his style. He swiftly removed most of the big-name leaders whom the Bansals had hired, instead handing power to managers he had mentored. In addition, he began to push Flipkart to compete aggressively with its own subsidiary Myntra, according to a former Flipkart executive, in order to make the case that he should be in control over all of the Flipkart Group’s e-commerce assets.

Amid these changes, the Bansals left Flipkart in quick succession. Sachin Bansal, who at the time was executive chairman and had led the talks with Walmart and Amazon, abruptly quit the firm in May 2018, while the Walmart deal was being finalized. He had wanted to become Group CEO after the acquisition, but the Flipkart board backed Krishnamurthy, according to several Flipkart executives. Sachin Bansal was cast out, netting approximately $1 billion for his 5.5% stake.

A few months later, Binny Bansal quit following an internal probe into an allegation of “serious personal misconduct” related to an alleged affair that Bansal did not disclose during negotiations with Walmart. Nervous Walmart executives asked Krishnamurthy to take over as Group CEO, adding fashion sites Myntra and Jabong to his responsibilities. Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal did not reply to requests for comment.


Binny Bansal quit Flipkart in 2018 following an internal probe into an allegation of personal misconduct.

Rest of World spoke to Krishnamurthy, 51, in September 2022 over Google Meet — an in-person interview was canceled due to heavy rains that had caused flooding so severe, office workers in Bengaluru had to commute by boat. Dressed in a red polo T-shirt, Krishnamurthy spoke from his villa in a gated community.

“The biggest thing that I have personally learnt and seen in my own journey is the need and the ability to adapt to different situations,” Krishnamurthy told Rest of World, in response to a question about his preparation for the CEO role. As he spoke, he alternated between slowing down to measure his words and appearing to rush to finish the conversation.

He called the sale to Walmart “the smartest thing Flipkart did” in the last decade. “Startups at an early stage in their evolution, they do live from year to year, from funding rounds to funding rounds,” he said. Walmart’s ownership, he explained, had stabilized Flipkart without sacrificing its innovative edge. “We have made the business a lot more sustainable and predictable over time.”

“I wouldn’t say that we weren’t bothered about laws before, but under Walmart, the risk appetite has reduced.”

As an independent startup, Flipkart focused on breakneck expansion, former executives told Rest of World. Walmart, which had had an earlier venture in India fail after allegations — which it denied — of investment law violations and mismanagement, made sure the company went by the book. It immediately set about strengthening Flipkart’s finance, legal, and accounting departments, and invested in a large compliance team.

One of the former executives recalled how, in 2020, Flipkart wanted to launch health products and services, but its investment committee, filled with senior Walmart leaders, withheld approvals because of unclear regulations. Flipkart finally announced the launch of its Flipkart Health+ initiative in 2021. “I wouldn’t say that we weren’t bothered about laws before, but under Walmart, the risk appetite has reduced,” said the employee, who, like other former Flipkart employees interviewed for this article, had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the company.

But overall, several former employees told Rest of World, Walmart has minimal involvement with Flipkart’s logistics, sales, and technology departments. Krishnamurthy resisted Walmart’s advice on hiring more accomplished executives, according to two consultants who worked with Flipkart, and instead removed some key leadership positions like chief business officer and chief operating officer, running Flipkart with a lean, low-profile management team.

According to the former employees, Krishnamurthy’s favored approach is to entrust young managers with new projects and critical businesses, and to give them free rein while setting steep growth targets. With little concern for hierarchical protocols, he often bypasses his senior vice presidents to interact directly with managers who oversee the company’s daily functioning, and regularly shuffles and promotes them, the employees said.


Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer of the Flipkart Group.

“It becomes a factory in some sense, like a management training program, which is rotational,” Rajneesh Kumar, chief corporate affairs officer of Flipkart Group, told Rest of World. “The focus is to have talent that can move around and do different things.”

Former employees characterized Krishnamurthy as a fast talker, decisive, and direct to the point of coming across as abrasive to people who aren’t used to his manner. He openly shares sensitive financial information with employees and is receptive to dissenting views, they said. He has also remained immersed in operations himself.

“No one has any succession plan.”

One former sales executive who worked closely with him recalled that Krishnamurthy has extraordinary instincts. “You’ll tell him, ‘Sir, I’m going to price this product at X and I’ll sell 10,000 units during [Big Billion Days].’ He’ll say, ‘No, cut the price by 300 rupees [$3.63], otherwise you’ll miss your target.’ You won’t listen to him and go your own way and then it happens exactly like he said,” they told Rest of World.

Krishnamurthy’s leadership style has also earned him the respect and loyalty of staff — and an unshakeable grip over the company. In part, Walmart has allowed Krishnamurthy a high degree of autonomy in running Flipkart because the company has stayed India’s market leader, said Meena, the e-commerce consultant. Flipkart did not respond to a request for comment on Krishnamurthy’s management style at the company. Walmart also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Krishnamurthy’s prominence also risks leaving the company overly dependent on him and short of potential replacements, according to three former executives who worked closely with him. Like many of India’s big internet firms, Flipkart has no second-in-command who can replace Krishnamurthy, said Meena. “No one has any succession plan.”


Workers use automatic guided vehicles at a Flipkart sorting center in Bengaluru in 2021.

In the city of Kolar, northeast of Bengaluru, stands one of Flipkart’s biggest warehouses, covering an area of about six football fields. On a weekday in late July 2022, the interior of the corrugated metal box was a symphony of manual and machine activity. At one end, workers offloaded trucks. Black-and-orange wheeled robots, directed by QR codes on the floor, carried trolleys and crates, pausing at intersections before turning like soldiers in a parade. Order pickers collected items and sent them on a spiral conveyor belt to packers, who stood hunched over wooden tables as they placed the items into boxes.

Since early on, warehouses like this one have been key to Flipkart’s strategy. They meant that the company could guarantee on-time deliveries, giving it an advantage over competitors who outsourced their logistics. Today, mastery over their supply chains continues to give Flipkart — as well as Amazon — an edge.

There is little that separates the two firms in terms of their products and services. Analysts say Amazon leads in larger Indian cities, while Flipkart is marginally more popular elsewhere. According to research firm Bernstein, Flipkart’s GMV — which includes that of its Myntra fashion platform — reached $23 billion in 2021, while Amazon’s was around $18–$20 billion.


The redesigned Flipkart app, split between “Grocery” and “Flipkart.” Flipkart

Bernstein and Meena attribute Flipkart’s ongoing success in large part to its one-two punch in the fashion category, which Amazon has so far failed to counter. While Flipkart focuses on sales of basic apparel, accessories, and discounted brands, Myntra appeals to more style-conscious shoppers. Bernstein and other analysts estimate that, between them, Flipkart and Myntra have cornered roughly 60% of the online fashion market in India.

Flipkart has also experimented in other sectors. It bought online pharmacy marketplace SastaSundar and travel app Cleartrip in 2021, both of which provide services that Amazon also offers. But Krishnamurthy’s biggest bet is on the final frontier for Indian e-commerce: groceries.

Krishnamurthy told Rest of World that according to Flipkart’s estimates, e-commerce accounts for less than 1% of the grocery market — worth $603 billion in 2019, according to RedSeer. Not for lack of trying, both online and offline retailers have failed to uproot India’s kiranas — mom-and-pop grocery stores that accept low margins, offer free credit, and don’t charge for deliveries.

Until 2020, Flipkart offered grocery and convenience store goods — from fresh fruit to shampoo — in just a handful of cities. Last year, the company expanded its coverage to 1,800 cities, representing more than half the country’s postal codes. The category, though small, is considered so critical to the company’s future that in May 2022, the firm divided its app into two sections: groceries and everything else. Smrithi Ravichandran, vice president and head of grocery at the company, told Rest of World this had constituted the biggest-ever change for Flipkart’s app. “Customers who used to think Flipkart is for mobiles, or Flipkart is for fashion, are now saying, ‘Okay, looks like they have a big grocery shop as well, why don’t we just go and check?’” she said.

Ravichandran, who is in her late 30s, is one of Krishnamurthy’s young lieutenants; she oversaw the crucial 2016 Big Billion Days sale. Grocery is “a very, very complicated business” in which there’s no “silver bullet,” she said. Marketing is costly, as many firms are chasing the same users; customers must be persuaded to buy a high number of items at the same time since per-unit prices are relatively low; and building a warehousing and logistics network is especially tricky when many items are perishable and have low margins. “Unlike some of the other businesses that we’ve built, this is going to be [about] doing 100 things, getting 100 things right,” Ravichandran said.

Along with growing its grocery business, Flipkart’s prospects depend on its ability to increase the number of its regular shoppers. Both Flipkart and Amazon claim to have around half a billion app downloads. With more than 800 million internet users in India, the companies appear to have massive growth potential on paper.

“I’d rather help my local guy.”

In reality, few users based outside of big cities habitually shop online, several former Flipkart executives told Rest of World. Part of the reason is that they lack trust in online platforms — cash on delivery is still widely preferred over online payments — and are alienated by apps originally built to appeal to English-speaking urbanites. Jeyandran Venugopal, chief product and technology officer at Flipkart, told Rest of World the company “realized that there are trust barriers and platform access barriers for the next 300 to 500 million users.”

Over the past three years, Flipkart has launched a range of initiatives to attract these users, including a new app, Shopsy, that offers ultra-cheap products — watches for $1.50, shirts for $3 — from small sellers. The company has also made its app available in 11 regional Indian languages and has machine-translated reviews originally written in English.


A review on Flipkart translated into Bengali. Flipkart

Sabina Islam, a 26-year-old domestic worker, moved to Kolkata in early 2020 from her village in eastern India. She began to use Flipkart to buy lip balms, sarees, and other products after hearing about online shopping from her employer. Islam browsed Amazon too, but found that Flipkart had lower prices and better language options. “Their Bengali interface is good,” she told Rest of World, adding that people in her village also use Flipkart and Amazon in Bengali. “I don’t know a lot of English so I keep switching to Bengali when I have trouble understanding product features and details.”

But such initiatives have so far had limited success. Flipkart and Amazon still generate the majority of their business from around 55 to 60 million mostly urban shoppers, said Meena, the e-commerce consultant. “It will take time — maybe the next three-four years — for the number of power customers to move to 100 million,” he said.

Even relatively affluent urban shoppers have proven hard to convert. Nidhi Bajoria, a 35-year-old creative director and yoga instructor who lives in an upscale Mumbai suburb, told Rest of World she regularly buys items from both Flipkart and Amazon, but prefers kiranas and other local stores over e-commerce whenever possible. “[The delivery speed] doesn’t really bother me because whatever I order, it’s not like I want it urgently. The place I stay in [Mumbai], I have everything. I could just go down and take it,” Bajoria said. Unless she spots an irresistible discount online, she said, “I’d rather help my local guy.”

While Flipkart continues to defend its e-commerce crown, one of its biggest adversaries may not be a direct competitor but the Indian government. As part of his wider Hindu nationalist push, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown support for domestic businesses in some sectors, including e-commerce. Even before the Walmart acquisition, some government officials and bureaucrats had viewed Flipkart as a foreign investor-owned venture rather than a homegrown company. Many now see it as wholly representing American interests.

In 2019, the Modi government imposed a host of limitations on foreign online retailers, including the banning of exclusive brand partnerships. Flipkart, Amazon, and similar platforms had previously found ways around earlier regulations by forging close relationships with a few key sellers, setting up complex corporate structures, funding discounts by adjusting their commission rates, and other mechanisms.

But their troubles are far from over. In January 2020, India’s antitrust regulator announced an investigation — still ongoing — into Amazon and Flipkart, just days before Jeff Bezos visited the country. Things didn’t improve after he landed.


People walk past the Inc. office campus in Hyderabad, in 2019.

Sporting kurtas and Nehru jackets — traditional Indian clothing — Bezos paid his respects at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in New Delhi, drove an Amazon-branded e-rickshaw, hung out with Bollywood stars, and announced that Amazon would invest another $1 billion in India. But Modi, who had warmly received the Amazon founder in 2014, denied him a meeting, and an Indian cabinet minister disdainfully said at an event that Amazon was hardly doing a “great favor to India.” A local right-wing magazine later called Amazon “East India Company 2.0,” referring to the British imperialist trading company.

Flipkart has so far managed to avoid the same level of hostility, even though it is now owned by an American company with a checkered history in India. In the 2000s, Walmart had been vilified as the paradigm of a predatory foreign company after it lobbied for permission to open stores that many assumed would hurt mom-and-pop businesses.

Against this backdrop, Indian rivals have been eager to exploit the favorable climate for domestic e-commerce platforms. India’s two largest conglomerates, Reliance Industries and Tata Group, are both working to break the Flipkart-Amazon e-commerce duopoly, as is SoftBank-backed startup Meesho.

“Flipkart and Amazon most likely will lose some of their market share.”

Reliance, led by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person, launched its e-grocery service in 2020 and has also made several e-commerce acquisitions. Reliance is the country’s biggest retail group, has great relationships with regulators and the Modi government, and counts Meta and Google as investors in its subsidiary, Jio Platforms. In August, Jio Platforms launched its e-commerce service on Meta’s WhatsApp, whose user base of 550 million provides unparalleled reach.

Tata Digital — Tata Group’s online vertical — acquired BigBasket, India’s largest digital grocer, in May 2021. The company’s efforts also include a new super-app, Tata Neu, although it was widely panned when it launched in April 2022.

Abhishek Maiti, director at the research firm PGA Labs, estimates that Flipkart and Amazon together control about 70% of India’s e-commerce market, roughly the same figure as four years ago. But he expects Tata and Reliance to make inroads. “Flipkart and Amazon most likely will lose some of their market share,” he told Rest of World. “If you look at Tata, their e-groceries arm is well settled and growing pretty fast via BigBasket. And they also have very good offerings, both in [fashion] and consumer electronics. And similarly with Reliance.”

In a written statement to Rest of World, Flipkart said the government has been “very supportive” of the online shopping sector so that the “full potential of [e-commerce] can be realised in India in line with ‘Digital India’ dreams” — a reference to the government program that aims to create a “digitally empowered society.” The company said it works closely with central and state governments to bring smaller companies, farmers, and under-served communities into the digital ecosystem.

“India’s e-commerce sector is a very vibrant one,” Flipkart said.


A delivery rider for BigBasket checks orders at a warehouse in 2021.

Goyal, the former Accel Partners investor, said that while the verdict was “still out” on whether Walmart had overpaid for Flipkart back in 2018, payment app PhonePe, a small part of Flipkart at the time of the acquisition, had been a “savior.” PhonePe has established a wide lead over Google Pay to become the biggest app on India’s main digital payments network. Partly to position itself as a “domestic” firm run by Indian entrepreneurs and pursue its own IPO, PhonePe completely separated from Flipkart in December 2022, even though Walmart remains its majority owner. A funding round in January valued PhonePe at more than $12 billion, marking a huge paper gain for Walmart.

Since late 2020, Reuters and Indian newspapers have carried reports that a Flipkart IPO is in the works. According to two people involved with the preparations, the company wants to list its shares in the U.S. and has begun to adopt measures mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a U.S. law governing public companies. But Flipkart is not ready to go public yet, they said.

Krishnamurthy told Rest of World in September that the company had discussed an IPO with its board, but that they had “not taken an IPO view with a very specific timeline.” In July 2021, Flipkart had raised $3.6 billion from a group of investors in a funding round that valued the company at $37.6 billion, roughly a tenth of Walmart’s current market cap. Flipkart did not respond to questions seeking more details about its IPO preparations.

Though Flipkart leads Amazon in market share, its losses have soared since the Walmart deal, official filings in India show, and the outlook for the broader e-commerce market is murky. In the financial year that ended March 2022, e-commerce grew at an impressive 35% in India as Covid-19 lockdowns forced people online, according to PGA Labs. But many shoppers have since returned to their kiranas. Inflation is suppressing spending as India’s economic growth slows, forecasts say. In India, e-commerce still only accounts for a single-digit percentage of the retail market, compared to 14% in the U.S. and 24.5% in China. A slackening of growth at this early stage, if not reversed soon, could damage Flipkart’s valuation and prospects.

Krishnamurthy told Rest of World the pandemic boom had worn off for Flipkart, but that the overall trend looked solid. “During Covid[-19], I think everybody thought that digital adoption has suddenly accelerated in a massive way. I think some of that was overstated,” he said. “But the slow and steady increase in digital adoption and commerce in India continues over the last four, five years. No negative trend change, it’s actually a positive trend change.”

Krishnamurthy’s bosses seem to agree. In January, Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported that Walmart plans to buy shares worth around $1.5 billion from minority Flipkart investors, further increasing its share in the company — and the stakes of its wager.