Amazon India vice-president and country manager Amit Agarwal is in a commanding position today. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has agreed to pump in another $3 billion, on top of the $2 billion already announced into the company’s India operations. At a time when other competitors are struggling to raise funds, such a corpus can only help Amazon stifle competition here. In an interview with Darlington Jose Hector & PP Thimmaya, Agarwal says India is a key geography for Amazon and if plans go well as intended, India should be its largest geography after the United States. Excerpts:
Amazon India receiving a booster dose of $3 billion has to be seen as a stamp of approval for the company’s performance here?
Absolutely, we have always maintained that India is a key geography for Amazon and if we execute well, India should be our largest geography after the United States. We have always said that we will continue to invest aggressively with a very long term horizon to transform the way India buys and sells. We completed three years of operations in June. This is clearly a validation of the strong momentum and the big opportunity we see here.
How do you plan to spend this corpus?
We do not talk about our future plans or spend in outlays. Essentially it would go towards enhancing the customer experience as we have done in the last three years.
What has been your view on DIPP’s circular on e-commerce clamping down on discounts?
We have been focused right from the begining of Amazon’s operations in India on the three things that we believe customers care about the most. They care about a massive collection, low prices and fast & reliable delivery. All our energy & investments have been targeted on how delighted the customers are on these matters. On the selection side, our focus has been on how to get more and more sellers. When we look at low prices, our approach has been on how do we create a systematic way of reducing the cost of operations for sellers, so that it can ensure low prices every day. What I mean by that is taking away some real cost out of the sellers’ P&L. Our sellers can enjoy the Amazon scale, it reduces their cost of operations, and higher quality of services increases sales, and when you have those effects happening, the sellers earn more absolute rupees and they funnel that back as more low prices for customers. This is the most sustainable way to ensure everyday low prices. Of course we occasionally do promotional events to advertise the marketplace but our primary focus is to ensure low prices every day.
Amazon India’s tax issues have been in the news for some time…are you concerned?
We work with the law of the land and continue to comply to it.Amazon’s performance in China has not been that good. Your comments.
These are two very different geographies. We have been excited by the results we have seen in India, We see tremendous momentum, and the sellers have repeatedly told us Amazon is the most preferred marketplace. It’s very exciting for us.
What are some of the unique learning for you from the India market?
If one looks at the most important parameters of selection and low prices, the Indian customers are no different from any other consumers. Sellers look for a fair and transparent platform and the consumer is very discerning. They
have latched on to an early phase of e-commerce. Our experience in ensuring a lightweight, fast app here is going to benefit the whole world.