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Amazon to start a wholesale portal in India?

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MUMBAI: After launching an e-retailer Amazon India and a product-comparison site Junglee.com, the US online retail giant is all set to launch a new portal in India.

According to a report by economic times, the Seattle-based company is preparing to launch a portal for wholesale merchants in India, the first country outside the US where such an initiative is being planned.

The report also said that the wholesale portal could be launched as early as next year and the team has been working on this secret project for the past few months. Talks with potential suppliers and the hiring process have also begun. The initiative could be led by Samir Kumar, who is currently director of category management and the team will report to Amazon India head Amit Agarwal.

"It will be similar to what Walmart is doing online in India and what Alibaba does in China," sources said to economic times.

Amazon refused to comment to the report. An Amazon India spokeswoman said, "As a policy, we do not comment on anything that we may or may not do in the future."

Amazon?s online retail business has grown rapidly since its debut in India. It is already the biggest competition to the home-grown e-commerce site Flipkart. Just a day after Flipkart raised $1 billion, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon is going to invest $2 billion in its Indian arm.

The India wholesale portal is said to be similar to AmazonSupply, its online site in the US focused on business consumers. The India platform will target small and medium enterprises. However, it is not clear what categories of products will the company sell under its wholesale platform. For instance, AmazonSupply does not sell apparel and other soft lines such as furnishings.

Launched in 2012, AmazonSupply sells products ranging from office supplies to electrical equipment.

Since June last year, Amazon in India has set up a network of seven warehouses across the country and has over 8,500 merchants selling products in over 28 categories on its platform.

Recently, US retail giant Walmart also estimated that India's wholesale market will grow to $700 billion by 2020 from the current $300 billion. Earlier this year, it launched a business-focused site bestpricewholesale.co.in for its wholesale club members in Lucknow and Hyderabad.

It is estimated that the retail market in India currently at $525 billion will double in size by 2020.

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