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BW Businessworld

Amazon To Kickoff India Operations

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Amazon's India arm — junglee.com — is finally all set to go live midnight (Wednesday-Thursday) after several delays. Junglee.com will be a marketplace with about 500 online retailers showcasing their products on the website. The marketplace will not just feature products from Indian e-commerce websites like timtara.com, bestylish.com, myntra.com or futurebazaar.com; but Amazon will also be seen bringing its global catalogue to India through junglee.com, a person close to the matter revealed.  

"Amazon is trying to build the biggest catalogue in the country with over 10 million products," he revealed on condition of anonymity.   

After several months of research, close eye on Alexa ranking, tight scrutiny of comscore data and dummy orders placed with e-retailers, Amazon India team signed up with about 500 players to be featured on junglee.com from an extensive list of 1,000 shortlisted retailers.
"Amazon was clear that they will reach out to those people who will match certain parameters in terms of order fulfillment time, customer experience and quality of products," an e-commerce player tying up with Amazon revealed on condition of anonymity.  

The contract between Amazon and the e-commerce players will give Amazon the permission to pull product information from the data base of these websites and feature it on its market place. The marketplace will have user feedback and rating for every product and every player that has it on offer. All this and even more would be managed by Amazon for free. Unlike its strategy in the US, where Amazon charges the vendors for being featured on its website, it is offering this service without a cost to Indian e-commerce sites.

A lot of e-commerce players are on board with Amazon with specific products only. They will keep some SKUs (stock keeping units) exclusive to their own websites. Timtara.com will be seen offering 2000-3000 SKUs to begin with.  

Amazon's e-commerce partners are expected to benefit from Amazon's traffic strength. Amazon.com already gets about 7 million unique visitors in a month from India. This will help Indian e-commerce players who have been bleeding because of very high customer acquisition cost in India. 

The company is also in talks to set up its first fulfillment centre in Mumbai and has not yet finalised the deal.

California-based Junglee.com was acquired by amazon.com in August 1998. Back then junglee.com was a provider of advanced Web-based virtual database technology that helped shoppers search products on the Internet. 

Businessworld reported in December that Amazon will break ground in India with an eBay-like model until foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed in retail and it gets regulatory approvals to have its own backend set up in India (see ‘A Click Away', BW, 5 September 2011). 

The company is first expected to test the Indian waters with its website junglee.com and once FDI regulations are eased out the company will roll out its full business with brand name amazon.in, according to sources. 

Current regulations do not bar foreign companies like amazon.com from extending back-end technology help to the e-commerce players and neither does it stop the foreign players from venturing into services like logistics. Hence, Junglee.com will gradually propose managing back-end services for e-commerce websites. It will be well within the gambit of amazon to open a logistics arm for junglee.com in future.  

For now Indian customers logging on to amazon.com website could find themselves being directed to junglee.com for buying certain products. Well, that is the only marketing or advertising one is going to see about junglee.com – amazon's short term India avatar – as the company continues to remain quiet and play the hush-hush game.