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BW Businessworld

Amazon India: Committed To Excellence

Jeff Bezos pledged $1 bn in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online amid regulatory scrutiny

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Off late, Amazon India has been hogging the limelight thanks to the recent visit by its founder Jeff Bezos. Recently, Amazon infused Rs 1,355 crore into its digital payments venture Amazon Pay India and an additional Rs 360 crore into Amazon Wholesale India. Since entering India in 2013, Amazon has committed investments worth $5.5 billion. founder Jeff Bezos pledged $1 billion in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online amid regulatory scrutiny and protests by traders. As part of its investments, Amazon will expand the reach of its existing Digital Haats in 100 cities, villages and communities that will help provide services such as e-commerce on-boarding, cataloguing and warehouse space for small businesses. Amazon will also expand its Amazon Easy programme, which helps kirana shops set up kiosks to provide assistance to their customers in choosing the right product, place an order on Amazon and earn a commission in the process. 

In the latest rankings for ‘Most Respected Companies’ (MRC) in India by BW Businessworld, Amazon India is placed high at the second position, just a shade below the average ratings for Google India. Amazon India was also part of the list of topmost companies in the MRC list for 2018. 

Talking about the recent India-centric investment annoucements, Bezos in a chat with Amazon India Country Head Amit Agarwal, said it will touch as many as 10 million small and medium businesses, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops and brands. “This initiative will use Amazon’s global footprint to create $10 billion in Indian exports by 2025,” Bezos said at the recent conclave for small businesses who sell on its marketplace. As many as 3,000 small and medium businesses, startups, and technology solution companies thronged the venue in Delhi from across the country to attend the two-day event, cheering Bezos as he spelt out his vision for India recently. “We are doing this now because it’s working. And when something works you should double down on it,” Bezos said, explaining his decision to invest in India and small businesses.

Amazon is currently fighting it would with rival Walmart-owned Flipkart in India’s burgeoning e-commerce market. The Smbhav Summit came at a time when another big-wig in India, the Mukesh Ambani’s owned Reliance Industries has stepped up its efforts to digitise millions of kirana stores this year.

Amazon has been putting more resources to assist small businesses globally as well. In 2019, the company launched 150 tools and services to help independent small and medium-sized businesses grow their sales in Amazon’s stores. “New tools and services, along with infrastructure, programmes, and people, are part of the more than $15 billion Amazon is on track to invest this year to empower independent small and medium-sized businesses selling in Amazon’s stores,” the company had said in August 2019.

Earlier in January, the Competition Commission of India had ordered a probe into alleged competition law violations by Amazon and Flipkart over complaints from small business men and traders. Gopal Pillai, the vice president for seller services at Amazon India, said, “If we don’t create a level playing field or have a thriving marketplace, we would not have seen so many sellers on our platform.” 

Despite a surge in revenue, the Amazon India’s wholesale and marketplace businesses reportedly posted losses in FY19. Amazon has also invested in offline retailers in India. In August 2019, Kishore Biyani’s Future Group had said that Amazon had agreed to pick up a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons, which holds about 7.3 per cent in Future Retail. It also owns a small stake in Shopper’s Stop. We wish Amazon India all the luck.   

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