Amazon tries free, on-time delivery to lure India online

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Amazon's initial entry into India was through the 2012 launch of Junglee.com, a price comparison site that gave it insight on what consumers want to buy and are willing to pay. (AP) Amazon's initial entry into India was through the 2012 launch of Junglee.com, a price comparison site that gave it insight on what consumers want to buy and are willing to pay. (AP)
SummaryFree shipping on a 100 rupee book. Delivery times guaranteed to the minute.

These are some of the incentives the world's biggest online retailer Amazon.com Inc is using to entice Indians to shop on the web, a sector where growth has been stifled by payment problems, low Internet usage and a challenging logistics environment.

Amazon's investors are counting on its international business and expansion to help drive growth and support its $165 billion market value, one of the highest among U.S. firms.

India is Amazon's third emerging market investment after Brazil and China, and one Vice President and Country Manager Amit Agarwal said would take time to pay off.

Most Indians do not own a credit card, and less than half the 152 million Internet usershave shopped online. Then there are the bad roads, the snarled bureaucracy and the petty bribery that greases business.

The potential, however, is vast.

Online retail sales in India are forecast to grow more than a hundred-fold to $76 billion by 2021 from just $600 million at the end of 2012, retail consultants Technopak said. E-tail sales in China, by comparison, are expected to grow to $650 billion by 2020 from around $200 billion in 2012, consultants McKinsey predict.

"A lot of invention is required to capture the potential of this market and our focus is to build this," said Agarwal, who returned to India to head Amazon's business after 14 years with the company in the United States.

"We are going through a lot of trial-and-error to fix problems on the ground," he told Reuters at Amazon's India office in the technology hub of Bangalore.

CONVINCING INDIANS TO CLICK

Indians, on average, spend between $24 and $35 per online transaction, a figure dwarfed by the $150-$160 spent by U.S. shoppers online per transaction, according to data from U.S. based analysts comScore and Retail Decisions.

Agarwal spent two years advising Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos at the company's Seattle headquarters, and believes Amazon's long-term strategy will work in India like it did in the United States, where the company ran up losses for years.

"Right now we are focused on giving customers great service and making sure they shop more," he added, sitting behind a large desk that he brought

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