Walmart expands digital empire into Latin America

By September 14, 2018

And just like that: Walmart laid out its $225 million plan to further digital domination in Latin America.

The American retail giant confirmed its purchase of grocery delivery platform Cornershop on Thursday with the clear intent of extending its international focus on digital commerce and home convenience.

The purchase of the on-demand delivery app, which operates in Chile and Mexico, gives an important indication of where the world’s biggest retailer by sales is headed. The Cornershop investment follows similar moves from Walmart in other corners of the world.

The company made recent agreements with Chinese online grocer Dada-JD Daojia and Japanese grocery-delivery service Rakuten Kobo Inc while simultaneously scaling back brick-and-mortar operations in the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Further to this, Walmart made its biggest move into the sector earlier this year with a $16 billion deal to buy a controlling stake in India’s biggest ecommerce company, Flipkart Group. Commentators believe these ecommerce investments are hoped to help Walmart keep up with online giants Amazon and Alibaba.

Walmart International president and chief executive Judith McKenna told the Wall Street Journal that the company was focused on making life easier for customers by building strong local businesses which were powered by Walmart.

“Cornershop’s digital expertise, technology and capabilities will strengthen our successful businesses in Mexico and Chile and provide learning for other markets in which we operate,” she said.

For now, Cornershop will be Walmart’s door into the Latin American market. The startup, founded in 2015, runs marketplaces on its platform for on-demand delivery from supermarkets, pharmacies and other food retailers in Mexico and Chile.

Digital growth in Latin America had come in leaps and bounds recently, with a report last week naming the region as the top for global growth in the ecommerce sector.

The title, awarded in a report from the eCommerce Foundation, noted Latin America’s increased population and higher rate of internet penetration as leading the charge.

Cornershop raised $21 million in Series B funding last year thanks to investment from Accel, ALLVP, Creandum, Endeavor Catalyst and Jackson Square Ventures. To date, according to Crunchbase, the startup had raised $31.7 million.

Cornershop’s three founders, chief executive officer Oskar Hjertonsson, chief operating officer Daniel Undurraga and chief technology offier Juan Pablo Cuevas, would remain in their positions under the Walmart takeover. Walmart also said Cornershop would remain as an open platform and deliver from a variety of retailers beyond Walmart’s own operations.