iWorld

“We are customer obsessed, not competition obsessed”: Amit Agarwal

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/internet-images/2014/08/26/amazon%201.JPG?itok=0-_bmqVB

Since its inception over 20 years ago in the United States, Amazon.com has been obsessed with a fervor to serve its consumer and being the ‘earth’s biggest bookstore’. It has grown from a ‘dot-com’ corporation into a king in the domain of internet retail. And now, its Indian arm under the leadership of Amit Agarwal, is looking at achieving the same landmark.  

Describing his current role as ‘Bringing Earth's Biggest Selection to India; building India's most customer-centric company’ on Linkedin, the new role has countless firsts for Mumbai-born Agarwal, now an American citizen. He has never worked in India in a business-facing role and never headed country operations as well.

The IIT-Kanpur and Stanford alumnus has been with Amazon since 1999. He has worked in various departments in the company including technical advisor to CEO Jeff Bezos between 2007 and 2009, before heading the operations in India.

Born in 1974, Agarwal joined Amazon as a part of its technology team.

Just a year old and Amazon India has already become the biggest threat to the seven-year old Flipkart in the Indian e-retail market. With an action-packed first year, the global online retail giant is gearing up to play a dominant role in the $13 billion Indian e-commerce industry.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com’s Pranati Deva, Amazon India VP & country manager Amit Agarwal discloses Amazon India’s journey in the Indian e-commerce space and plans for the future.

Excerpts…

What inspired you to finally start an arm in India? Flipkart started in 2007, why did you think 2013 was the right year to jump into the Indian e-commerce space?

We believe that we entered the India market at the right time. Indian e-commerce space is still in a very nascent stage with significant potential for innovation to improve customer experience. We believe that the growth is at an inflection point and there is tremendous opportunity. 

We have received a fabulous response from both customers and sellers in the last 14 plus months of our India operations. We launched in India with two departments – Books and Movies & TV Shows – and in these 14 plus months, our total selection now stands at more than 17 million products across 30 departments and hundreds of categories. We have witnessed phenomenal selection growth across several categories and are already the largest store  in 12 of the 30 departments that we have on amazon.in including Books, Music, Video Games, Toys, Home & Kitchen, Luggage and Backpacks, Fashion Jewellery, Beauty Products, Movies & TV shows, Men’s inner wear , Sports, Fitness & Outdoors and Pet Supplies.

What is your current strategy in India? And how will your strategy change if the e-commerce sector opens up to FDI?

Our strategy for amazon.in is the same as our global vision to be India’s most customer-centric company by giving customers more of what they want – low prices, vast selection, fast and reliable delivery, and a trusted and convenient experience – and provide sellers a world-class e-commerce platform. The execution of this strategy is local. If you look at the logistics infrastructure, Amazon has built one of the most sophisticated logistics infrastructures that has ever been built to serve sellers and customers

We start with the customer experience and work backwards from it. Building a great customer experience drives traffic; traffic attracts sellers; more sellers drive more selection and this further improves the customer experience.

We have always maintained that opening up this sector to FDI will be good for consumers and Indian businesses as it would allow us to partner with local manufacturers to source products not carried by other sellers in the marketplace, giving Indian consumers unique and wider choices at lower prices. Allowing FDI, also, positively impacts infrastructure development in the country.

The announcement for the $2 billion investment in Amazon India came in just days after Flipkart announced fundraising of $1 billion. Was the announcement strategically placed?

We are customer obsessed and not competition obsessed.  We aspire to provide Earth’s biggest selection and the most trustworthy and convenient online shopping experience to our customers in India.  And we have been investing aggressively right from the beginning.

Our rapid growth in a short time and the significant opportunity ahead of us makes us very comfortable in making this large additional investment. We are not surprised if our rapid growth and customer experience ambitions have increased investment elsewhere as well.     

What areas will you mainly focus on now, after the investment?            

  

We don’t talk about any of our future plans but essentially it will go towards growing our business and enhancing customer and seller experience. 

Which categories contribute the most to your revenue?

Categories with the strongest growth are Books, Consumer Electronics, Shoes, Baby Products, and Watches.

To increase your demand in the Indian space, which brands have you associated with recently for their products?

We are witnessing that both brands and SMEs are willing and are excited to use the Amazon India marketplace to reach to consumers nationally. Brands and sellers see a lot of value in their association with us. We not only play a significant role in driving sales but also in building consumer awareness about products and educating them about the benefits of these offerings so that they are able to make smart purchase decisions.

Today several sellers and brands are keenly exploring possibilities of exclusive associations with us. For example Amazon India is the exclusive retail partner for Microsoft’s entire Interactive Entertainment Business portfolio which includes Xbox One, Xbox 360, Kinect, Xbox Live, Xbox Accessories and all Microsoft-published Xbox game titles. Similarly, Philips has made available its new Philips Disney Imaginative Lighting range for kids exclusively on www.amazon.in. In mobiles we have exclusive launch deals with Samsung for the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, Karbonn, Lava, XOLO, OPPO mobiles, etc.

We are also the exclusive online partner for KitchenAid, a premium kitchen appliances brand from Whirlpool that launched in India in March, for Waterlily LA, a premium leather handbag brand headquartered in Los Angeles that made its India debut on Amazon.in as well as for many more. There are several such examples across the 30 departments that we, at present, have on Amazon.in. We are very excited to see this response from brands and sellers and this stands proof to the value that they see in associating with us.

What is Amazon India doing differently to stay ahead of the competition in India?

In terms of services - we were the first ones in India to introduce premium guaranteed delivery services including the ‘One-Day Delivery’ service for items fulfilled by Amazon. Within a short time we have been able to make available over 300,000 products for next day delivery across hundreds of pin codes in India. More than 60 per cent of our customer demand is already eligible for next-day shipping on products fulfilled by Amazon.

We are investing in making sellers successful; continually looking for ways to do the heavy lifting for them; and enabling them to sell more and make more money. We started with over 100 sellers and today this base has grown to more than 10,000 sellers.

We now have seven fulfilment centres in India with a total storage capacity of half million square feet. All FCs are aimed at meeting fulfilment needs of retailers and small and medium-sized businesses and to help them achieve nationwide scale.

We are the first ones in India to introduce customised, personalised and multi-lingual Amazon.in Gift Cards that enable customers to buy over 15 million products (excludes ebooks) from our marketplace. Customers can purchase the Amazon.in Gift Cards of any value starting from Rs 10 up to Rs 10,000. Available in nine Indian languages including Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Punjabi in more than 200 designs that celebrate various special and memorable occasions in a person’s life.

Indian Postal Services (IPS) is one of the prime carriers that Amazon India uses as a delivery channel Amazon uses the extensive IPS network to service over 19,000 pin-codes through 140,000 post-offices across all 35 states and union territories in India. Number of deliveries through India Post has increased from 800 (June 2013) to 35,000 (in July 2014)

For us it is always ‘Day 1’ and today we believe we have the right ingredients to entice and delight our customers with a trusted online shopping experience.

Learning points so far about the Indian consumer and the e-commerce market in India?

Our experience of working around the world has shown one thing, that customers around the world are similar. Customers around the world always want a vast selection at low prices and a convenient, reliable and trustworthy online shopping experience. Indian customers are no different.  I am yet to come across a customer who will say that they want a smaller selection or higher prices. And we are focused on ensuring that we are able to deliver and raise the bar for online shopping in India.

What are your views about the Indian e-commerce industry and what are your expectations from the sector in the coming future?

Indian e-commerce space is still at a very nascent stage with significant potential for innovation to improve customer experience. The growth is at an inflection point. With increasing internet penetration, both broadband and smartphones, there is an interest and demand from mini metros and smaller towns across the country. We see as a tremendous opportunity and are very excited by it.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/25/Ajit%20Pai.jpg?itok=Cx6Lc99E
Small US broadband businesses relieved from needless regulation, piracy protection mooted

MUMBAI: A government decision in the U.S. reminiscent of India's so-called one-window clearance policy has made life easier for small businesses. The Federal Communications Commission (U.S.) has relieved thousands of smaller broadband providers from onerous reporting obligations stemming from the...

iWorld Broadband
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/25/SavvyHB%20and%20Dilip%20Venkatraman.jpg?itok=Dh02Tyt9
VideoTap to unveil interactive smart video platform, to deliver dynamic, personalised VOD

MUMBAI: VideoTap Digital, the media technology company, promoted by media veteran Dilip Venkatraman, former CEO of CNN-IBN and IBN7 and Savvy Dilip, former Group CMO of ITV Network, is all set to showcase VideoTap, the next generation video platform at 4YFN - Mobile World Congress at Barcelona....

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/zee-tv%20%281%29.jpg?itok=uqmpsK6N
'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs' on Zee TV via dittoTV

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, a singing talent hunt show, is back with a bang! Hugely popular over the last 22 years, the show is set to launch the sixth season of its sub series for kids on 25 February. Li’l Champ fans can watch the show live as it airs on their smartphones on Zee TV, available only on dittoTV.

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/viu%20%281%29.jpg?itok=9o5ylNuf
Viu enters Middle East, to provide buffer-free content

Video-on-demand (VOD) service provider Vuclip has launched Viu, a direct to consumer VOD service, in the Middle East. The platform is already available in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong and Singapore.

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/youtube%20%281%29.jpg?itok=VjFzK0wR
YouTube FanFest returns with AIB, Abish Mathew & Vidya Vox

Shout out to all the YouTubers in town. Mumbai, the city of dreams, is all set to host the fourth YouTube FanFest on 24 March. The event will take place at JioGarden, Bandra Kurla Complex. Every year, YouTube brings together top YouTubers from around the globe for a live performance and fans get...

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/Rachel-do-Valle%20%281%29.jpg?itok=_Acmt_dK
Brazilian TV Producers rebrands as Brazilian Content as per AV trend

Brazilian TV Producers, BRAVI’s export programme, in partnership with Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), will change its name to Brazilian Content from 6 March 2017, and will showcase the new brand at Rio Content Market.

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/bruce%20%281%29.jpg?itok=UE7AcSBa
Bruce Anderson announced as Dejero CEO

Dejero, an innovator in cloud-managed solutions that simplify the transport of live video and real-time data across remote or mobile IP networks, has announced Bruce Anderson as its new CEO, taking over from Brian Cram who has headed the company for the last five years.

iWorld Video On Demand
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/24/Kumar%20Ahuja-800x800.jpg?itok=vbToTchE
Eros Now partners SpeedPay, bundled with BSNL

MUMBAI: Over-the-top (OTT) Bollywood entertainment platform Eros Now has partnered with SpeedPay, a multi-purpose offline wallet and Indian state owned telecommunications provider, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). With these partnerships, the OTT platform will now be bundled across all the...

iWorld Over The Top Services
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/02/23/bobbles%20%281%29.jpg?itok=LTEeg7Ky
Bobbles DTH/OTT offers top Indian TV channels in Europe

Bobbles.tv, the German provider of pay-TV packages for expats in Europe, has launched an entertainment platform for Indian viewers. The platform currently offers 16 TV channels from both, Hindi and English languages.

iWorld Pay-Per-View

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories