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We obsess about customer, not competition, says Jeff Bezos

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MUMBAI: With the battle brewing in the e-commerce segment, the sector is making headlines every day; the latest being of Amazom chairman Jeff Bezos’s four-day visit to India.

To make his business intentions in India clear, Bezos, who is on his second visit to India, carried out a road show on a supply truck at the premises of a shopping mall in Bangalore on 28 August handing a $2 billion cheque to Amazon India VP and country manager Amit Agarwal. This is by far the biggest expansion money from overseas that has come from a multi-national.

According to the media reports, while handing the cheque, he said, “Amazon has unveiled a $2 billion investment in the country ... we'll work to better what Indians love most in shopping — vast selection, competitive pricing and fast delivery.”

Amazon had announced a $2billion investment in India barely a day after homegrown Flipkart raised $1 bn from private investors.

As per the reports, Bezos added that the cash pile will be spent on building performance centers, upgrading logistics services, developing the mobile platform and new tools and techniques to help the small and medium businesses.

Amazon’s interest in the small and medium enterprises has been echoed by several homegrown e-tailers. While Snapdeal recently announced that it was inching close to the 100,000-seller mark, Flipkart has been tying up with industry bodies like FISME and NCDPD to penetrate the SME clusters.

In an initiative called Amazon OneonOne, Bezos also had luncheon with about 100 customers on 28 September in order to find their views and opinions about the site and if there were any recommendations.

According to various media reports, Bezos also indicated that policy hurdles in India is not impacting the company's investment plans for the country. India is yet to allow FDI in online retail. Another issue is lack of clarity in tax laws that are impacting the company's functioning in various states.

Amazon's main rivals in India are Bangalore-based Flipkart and Snapdeal, the Delhi-based company that counts eBay, Azim Premji and Ratan Tata as investors. Together, they have sold goods worth more than $4 billion, with Flipkart alone estimated to have crossed $2 billion. Alibaba, too, is keen on India, and the Chinese company has the money, experience and ambition to succeed here.

Talking about the competition, Bezos also reportedly said, “We have a long history of obsessing over customers rather than competition.”

With revenue of nearly $75 billion in 2013 the giant online retail site has a market value of $150 billion. It also runs a fast growing cloud computing business called Amazon Web Services and makes Kindle tablets and Fire smartphones. Bezos, in his personal capacity, bought The Washington Post newspaper last year. In India, Amazon started its technology operation first and employs a total of about 12,000 staff at offices in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi.

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