Amazon is sowing the seeds of transformation in India through e-commerce

Amazon is sowing the seeds of transformation in India through e-commerce says Amazon spokesperson

India’s e-commerce market will hit $200bn by 2026, according to a Morgan Stanley report. Alongside this growth, the Indian e-commerce market is continuously evolving and that has given a massive boost to the e-commerce brands.

Global retail behemoth Amazon has taken advantage of the Indian e-commerce market and has kept its promise, made in June this year, to invest around $5bn in India and has now doubled its investments to $4.74bn, mostly to ward off rival Flipkart.

To find out what it aims to achieve from such a huge investment, The Drum spoke with to an Amazon spokesperson, who says: "As India’s largest and fastest growing e-commerce player, and with a long-term commitment to make e-commerce a habit for Indian customers, we continue to invest in the necessary technology and to grow the entire ecosystem. We are delighted and humbled by the trust from our customers, to lead in India on things that matter to our customers, in over four years of our business here, while continuing to launch innovative India-first initiatives as well as completely new offerings like Echo, Prime and Prime Video."

Amazon further wants to be the 'everything' store for Indians. However, Amazon faces intense competition from homegrown Flipkart and Snapdeal. Both Flipkart and Amazon are also foraying into retail and grocery.

As to how Amazon is tackling the competition, the spokesperson says: "The barometer of our success is our reach to new customers and getting new customers online is our top most priority at this point in time.

We are extremely excited with the growth that we have seen in India. In an industry reportedly flat or negative, Amazon India showed remarkable growth of 124% YoY in 2016, leading the industry on how e-commerce can be a part of customers' daily lives across categories, from mobiles and large appliances to consumables and everyday essentials. In 2017, we continue to see tremendous momentum with overall growth at about 85% in Q1 and 88% in Q2 and we are still a few months away from the year end."

"We are seeing significant expansion in India with focus on not only growing the existing customers’ share of wallet, purchase frequency but also in driving incremental new reach and penetration through market expansion. With the launch and early success of Prime in India, we are driving significant change in consumer behavior to make ecommerce a part of customers’ everyday lives where they value Amazon’s convenience of fast and reliable delivery over millions of products. We also launched Prime video with a great library that includes Indian and Hollywood content, and with 18 Indian originals in the pipeline and have seen very healthy customer response to the same.

We have kept our approach very simple and very consistent – increase selection, provide better value and savings as well as make delivery faster," Amazon adds.

Amazon further locked horns with Flipkart over festive sales. It powered ahead of e-commerce rivals to reign supreme over Indian audience. Whether the sale has worked, like Prime Day in US, the spokesperson says: "Prime Day in US is very different from our Great Indian festival and one cannot compare the two. We are especially delighted to play a leading role in growing online commerce in India and being relevant for all needs. With 86% of new customers this season coming from lower tier towns, more than a third of our customers shopped across categories - for everything from smartphones, large appliances, to fashion, everyday essentials and baby products.

With over 99.7% of serviceable pin codes in India placing at least one order on Amazon.in during the festival sale, with customers buying across categories - from mobiles, TVs, large appliances, to home décor, furniture, and everyday essentials, and with customers choosing to pay for the convenience of Prime offering unlimited free next-day guaranteed delivery, clearly the festive season showcased an inflection point for e-commerce in India."

Amazon India has signed a partnership what will put tribal artisans online. It also partnered with DC Handloom, Ministry of Textiles to supplement the efforts of the government to uplift artisans across the country, as well as with Gujarat Tribal Development Department and Government of Telangana to support regional weavers and artisans.

Whether Amazon believes itself to be a game-changer in India, the spokesperson says: "When we launched in India, e-commerce was mostly an urban phenomenon limited to occasional shopping in few categories led by discounts. The real opportunity to let anyone, anywhere in India to find, discover, and buy anything online (and sell anything online) was largely unaddressed. We have been obsessed with what customers deeply care about, primarily massive selection, great value, and maximum convenience; and have since invested heavily in infrastructure, technology, and India-specific innovations to drive this transformation.

We are also taking Indian entrepreneurs global. Today over 400 product start-ups from India are part of Amazon launch pad and selling their innovations to customers in India and abroad. Similarly, over 26,000 Indian manufacturers are offering over 70 million Make in India products to Amazon worldwide customer base. They are exporting directly to customers not just in the US or UK but world over."

Amazon had an eventful 2017 as they launched various programs/products, such as a fashion photography studio called Blink, Kindle Oasis, Alexa and Echo and partnered with brands like Amul, Shoppers Stop, Ford, iPhone. It also expanded existing programs such as Project Udaan.

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Taruka Srivastav

I march to the Indian beat of The Drum.

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