E-commerce will play an essential role in the government’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) as more homegrown brands scale up and go global, leveraging digital infrastructure, a top Amazon India executive said on Wednesday.
Amit Agarwal, global senior vice president and country head of Amazon India, said e-commerce is at nascent stages in India. It is hardly even 3 percent of the country’s total retail consumption.
“What I predict is you’re going to witness a kind of structural shift that propels us faster towards this vision of Digital India. “I think Make in India is going to go global at massive scale, you’re going to have Indian brands become global brands, and all of this is going to create a digitally robust business ecosystem across the country that is going to power millions of livelihoods,” he said.
He further stated that “this is going to help us realise that vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and e-commerce is going to play an important role.”
Speaking at a TiEcon event, Agarwal said the Indian e-commerce market looked very different when the company had entered India seven years ago. He said the market was mostly an urban phenomenon. People shopped at select events, and it was not common to have people pay for shipping and convenience. Also, the infrastructure was not sophisticated, and the seller base did not have the skills to go online yet.
“It was a whole ecosystem that needed to be built bottom-up,” he noted. “We were very clear about our mission, it was the same global mission that we had, which is, we wanted to be Earth’s most customer centric company…We are unusually obsessed with customers. We put most of our energy in trying to focus on things customers deeply care about,” Agarwal said.
He added that while competition exists, the company is more focused on the excellent customer experience. “We do look at competitors…And that’s mostly to get inspired and how we can serve our customers better…it’s very early days for e-commerce in India, and if we’ve learned anything from the rest of the world, it is that over a long period of time, there will be many winners, and there will be many models”, he said.
He further said, “competition is good for customers” as it helps improve customer experience. “Our job, and our controllable inputs, if I may, is to continue to remain focused on the customer experience, it continues to remain focussing on empowering the seller base…they choose us. And that’s what we worry about daily,” he said.
Amazon faces stiff competition from Walmart-owned Flipkart and Reliance Retail, run by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani. Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd’s retail business spans across supermarkets, consumer electronics chain stores, cash and carry wholesale business, fast-fashion outlets, and online grocery store JioMart.