The last two executives to run Walmart had overseen the company’s international business. Now it’s Judith McKenna’s turn to show what she can do with the global role. Her first test is a big one.

McKenna took over in February 2018, and three months later Walmart International signed its biggest deal ever — spending $16 billion to buy 77% of India’s top online retailer, Flipkart. She was appointed as Walmart International CEO after spending three years as the chief operating officer for the company’s main US business.

In a statement, McKenna described the Flipkart alliance as a “good cultural fit” that aligned with Walmart’s aim “to contribute to India’s success story, as we grow our business.”

Satish Meena, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, was blunt about what’s riding on the Flipkart deal: “This is Walmart’s biggest bet on e-commerce. … If they fail to execute with Flipkart here it is certainly going to be a big setback. The easy part of this deal is done. The difficult part starts now.”

Taking over Flipkart gave Walmart a massive jump on a market projected to be worth $200 billion by 2026 in a country that the American giant has been trying to crack for years. India’s rules about foreign investment have prevented Walmart from opening its classic stores in the country, restricting it instead to 23 wholesale distribution outlets.

[Read more]