Amazon cranks up India play, takes on top e-commerce cos at their own game

Written by Anand J | Sayan Chakraborty | Bangalore | Updated: May 17 2014, 15:13pm hrs
Amazon IndiaOver the past 60 days, Amazon India has launched handbags, shoes, women?s ethnic wear, watches, fashion jewellery, sunglasses and lingerie stores.
The $75-billion e-commerce giant Amazon is cranking up its India play, spreading to territories where domestic companies currently enjoy a stranglehold.

With its rapidly expanding apparel offerings, Amazon India is working on a chain of customer requirements that will place it squarely against established Indian players like Myntra and Jabong, which focus on fashion and lifestyle.

Over the past 60 days, the company has launched handbags, shoes, womens ethnic wear, watches, fashion jewellery, sunglasses and lingerie stores in a bid to target consumer needs in one segment before moving on to the next.

Amazon's rapid expansion in the segment comes at a time when the online fashion space, which touched $559 million in 2013, is witnessing a frenzy among stakeholders for a larger pie. Besides market leaders like Myntra and Jabong, Flipkart, which reported $1 billion in annualised sales in March, also sell apparels on its platform. Flipkart is on the verge of acquiring Myntra to ramp up its presence in the fashion space.

"We work the customer backwards. Hence we pick up a particular customer segment and try to solve all needs before moving to the next," Vikas Purohit, category leader for fashion, Amazon India, told FE in an exclusive interaction. "We believe there is room for multiple formats and players, and most importantly for innovation," said Purohit, adding that the company is relentlessly focussing on expanding brands on its platform apart from innovating on customer touch points.

"We are committed to investing aggressively over the long term and are relentlessly focusing on and raising the bar for the online shopping experience in India," he said.

The company has been consolidating its position in the country ever since its India launch in June 2013 and has launched two new capabilities to let Indian traders self-register on the marketplace and start selling within a day, without any third-party intervention.

According to retail advisory firm Technopak, the online segment at present constitutes just 0.4% of the $478-billion retail market in India and is likely to rise to 2-4% in the next five years, with fashion and lifestyle products comprising nearly one-fourth of the market.

According to Pragya Singh, associate vice-president, retail, at Technopak, Indian companies are likely to have prepared themselves to take on Amazon as the development was inevitable, she said, adding that future consolidation in the sector could be an attempt to counter bigger players like Amazon.

The apparel segment of Amazon provides over 12,000 contemporary and traditional styles from more than 90 apparel brands offered by private labels, besides national and regional retailers to choose from. The company's dedicated sunglasses store has more than 2,800 styles catering to men, women and children. It also offers an assortment of accessories to women.

Amazon,which launched an intimate apparel store for women this week featuring over 1,100 styles of lingerie and nightwear from more than 35 national and international brands, also has a health and personal care store aimed at providing women a one-stop solution for their daily necessities. Incidentally, a survey by Technopak said the female population accounts for 40% of India's internet users.