E-commerce giant Amazon is focused on digitising micro, small and medium-sized businesses in India and is working on getting more sellers on board and hiring more people, a top company executive said. "We've talked about India many times, but a lot of focus on building that out... what's great about a place - all geographies with a place like India is we're really focused on digitising the Indian sellers. A lot of micro, small and medium-sized businesses there," Amazon Director Investor Relations David Fildes said during an investor call.
He further said, "we launched new features there to help support the digitisation efforts with some of those brands and just a lot of work, great work being done by that team. They have some goals there around getting more sellers on board and hiring many more people as well. So a lot of focus there." The comments come at a time when the US-based company is locked in a battle for market leadership in India with Walmart-owned Flipkart. The competition in the e-commerce space is set to intensify further with the entry of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's JioMart.
Amazon and other e-commerce players have been aggressively investing in expanding infrastructure and adding solutions to enhance consumer and seller experience. According to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, India's e-commerce business is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent to reach USD 99 billion by 2024, with grocery and fashion/apparel likely to be the key drivers.
Recently, Amazon had infused fresh capital to the tune of Rs 2,310 crore into one of its India units, Amazon Seller Services, as per regulatory documents. Amazon Seller Services had received another tranche of Rs 2,208 crore earlier in the year. Earlier this year, the online retail giant had announced plans to help digitally enable micro, small, and medium businesses across the country as part of a $1 billion investment pledge.
Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky, during the investor call, said there is a bit of a forward investment on Prime benefits in many countries. "...what you also see are investments in new countries. Obviously, India is the biggest one, but also, to a lesser extent, the Middle East, Brazil, Turkey and Australia are recent additions. So there's always an element of expansion going on there," he said.
India is also the biggest recipient of investments in Prime, Amazon's membership programme under which it offers various features including fast shipping, music and video services, among others. In the June 2020 quarter, Amazon saw its net sales rise 40 per cent year-on-year to USD 88.9 billion, and net income increased to $5.2 billion.
The company has launched Local Shops on Amazon.in, offering shopkeepers and retailers with physical stores the ability to register to serve more customers from their local areas. Since launch, more than 11,000 sellers have enrolled in the program, Amazon said in a statement.
In addition, Amazon has introduced seller registration and account management services in Hindi to help businesses overcome language barriers. Since launch, more than 10,000 sellers have used Hindi to register on Amazon.in, the statement said. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos noted that the company has spent over USD 4 billion on incremental COVID-19-related costs in the June quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand.
He added that the company has created over 175,000 new jobs since March and is in the process of bringing 125,000 of these employees into regular, full time positions.