Logistics for MSMEs: E-commerce firm Amazon is looking to help its small and midsize logistics partners, which are impacted due to the Covid-19 lockdown, financially through a new Partner Support Fund. The company will provide one-time disbursement to package delivery businesses known as Delivery Service Partners and ‘select’ transportation partners associated with Amazon. This will “enable them to provide financial aid to close to 40,000 of their staff for the month of April,” Amazon said. The fund will also help these SMEs in their “critical fixed infrastructure costs, and support liquidity and cash flow,” as they resume business post lockdown. The size of the fund and disbursement limit to each beneficiary partner has not been disclosed by the company.
“This one-time special Partner Support Fund is designed to enable partners to assist close to 40,000 of their associates through financial hardships and will help our small business partners in logistics get back on their feet at the earliest when the economy reopens,” Akhil Saxena, VP, Customer Fulfilment Operations, APAC, MENA & LATAM, Amazon in a statement. The latest initiative underscores Amazon’s focus on strengthening its community of small and medium business partners including sellers. The company currently has over 5.5 lakh sellers on its marketplace of which most are small businesses.
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Amazon had last week launched ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ to “shopkeepers supplement their footfalls with a digital presence and expand beyond their normal catchment,” the company had said, even as it would help customers to discover and shop for products from their local shops. While the company has so far been competing with Walmart-backed Flipkart for supremacy in India’s e-commerce sector, the two incumbent e-commerce leaders are now staring at perhaps another formidable player in the market with the Reliance-Facebook deal that is beginning to launch its e-commerce venture JioMart on WhatsApp as a platform. “Current investment and price by Amazon and Flipkart in their grocery segment are not good enough. They are struggling a lot,” Satish Meena, Senior Forecast Analyst, Forrester Research had told Financial Express Online.
Amazon has also introduced a pay later payment option for customers to buy goods and pay in the following month without interest or in three-12 months EMIs, as per the details available on its app. Flipkart had launched it pay later option back in 2017. Amazon had forayed into India in 2013. Its founder Jeff Bezos on a recent trip to India had said that they plan to have more than 10 million (1 crore) MSME sellers online by 2025. Bezos had also pledged $1 billion to digitize small businesses that would take Seattle-headquartered company’s total investment in India to over $7 billion.