We’re investing aggressively and will continue to do so: Amazon’s India head

Business Standard

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Amazon’s India business has experienced triple digit growth rates this year when rest of the ecosystem is either flat or on a lower growth path, country head AMIT AGARWAL tells Karan Choudhury at an event in New Delhi to announce the launch of a global start-up programme. Edited excerpts:

What is your take on demonetisation?
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The idea of cashless is good for the country, for customers, businesses, I welcome that intent. How you get there, this clearly is one step towards that. For 48 hours once the initiative was announced we switched off cash on delivery part of the business, because we did not want our logistics networks to be unstable. Since then we have seen a dramatic uptick of customers opting to use electronic payments method at the doorstep, even loading up their Amazon balances so that they can shop on our site. We are mostly back to normal and are seeing triple digit growth rates.

You as of now do not have a mobile wallet. Do you consider that as a hindrance? Is a wallet in the works?

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Customers can load up their Amazon balance for shopping on the portal and many users are using this service. As far as the wallet is concerned, we do not really speculate on things we may or may not do. But yes, we had acquired a small company called EMVANTAGE Payments Pvt. Ltd, the whole focus of that is on same things we care about, we want to make it super easy for customers to buy on Amazon.in and payments is one of the areas where we definitely want to make it better for customers. A lot of the technology that this company has built has improved the payment experience at Amazon.in.

There have been quite a few downgrades in valuation of ecommerce companies this year. What’s your take on it? How is it going to be in 2017?

I do not have any view of e-commerce for other companies in 2017. What I can tell you is that our view for our business is extremely positive. We are exiting this year being the leader in every single dimension that customers care about. We are exiting 2016 with triple digit growth rates year on year, when the rest of the ecosystem is mostly seeing flat to negative growth. We are exiting this year investing aggressively, to offer customers with large selection, great prices and faster delivery. So I am very optimistic. But having said that, it is very early in the lifecycle of ecommerce in India and we will continue to invest over a long period of time.

What sort of dent did Amazon.in business make on your global financial numbers? How long is this sustainable?

We do not break the financials by country, we look at India as a fabulous long-term opportunity for Amazon globally and we would continue to invest aggressively in areas that matter to customers over a long period of time.

Any special sales being planned around Christmas? Are you planning to bring a version of Black Friday sales to India?

We are always focused on offering products at really low prices to our customers. Customers should continue to see great selections on our website. They would see sellers bring great offers to them. I am sure the sellers would bring Christmas specials to our customers. Customers can already shop for global products on Amazon today. As far as Black Friday type sales our concerned, we do not comment on what we may or may not do (smiles).

As far as Amazon Now is concerned, how are things panning out there?

Amazon Now is our specific two hour delivery service that offers popular consumer products. That service is active in Bengaluru and we have piloted it in Mumbai and Delhi. It is doing great, customers really love this service and we will ensure that they get more selection.

What are your plans for 2017?

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Our plans would be exactly the same as they have been for the last three years. We would continue to add more selection, figure out how we lower the cost of operations, offer low prices, how we ship products to customers are low prices. It is exactly the same thing that we have been doing at Amazon for the last 20 years.

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