Amazon India on Thursday launched three new categories on its website, and added that more will be coming soon, in time for Diwali. When Amazon.in launched in June, it was selling books, movies and TV shows, and quickly expanded to include electronics devices such as mobile phones, cameras and computers and accessories. The company has now added toys, baby products, and personal care and healthcare appliances; home and kitchen category will be introduced soon.
Amit Agarwal, vice-president and country manager, Amazon India, said in the last three months since the company has been active in India, it has been focusing on three areas “selection, cost and reliability”.
In India, Amazon works as a managed marketplace and not a direct seller, and Agarwal said it has grown from 100 sellers to over 500 by now, and added that the number of sellers who are choosing Amazon’s logistics service (called Fulfillment by Amazon) is also steadily rising.
He added, “On the customer side, we can’t share a country break-up, but with the rising sellers, I think you can infer that customers are also there. Another thing, which we think is very positive, is that the sellers feedback has been that the number of people paying via credit cards is rising compared to cash on delivery payments, which shows increasing confidence.”
With the new categories, Amazon.in has added over 8,500 products, and now claims to offer over 9 million books, over 70,000 products, and over 1.7 million e-books. Agarwal also said the response to the Kindle hardware in India has been encouraging. While he could not share the number of Kindles sold, he said the response has been meeting expectations. Mobile usage of Amazon’s website might have been lower than expected though. Agarwal said, “In a country like India you’d expect everyone to be on mobile... but it’s been only three months and the traction on mobile is very good. Customers are discovering it, and we are committed to the platform, and will continue to develop it.” To that end, Amazon will be launching an India-specific Android app soon, he added.
When asked why these particular categories were chosen for launch at this point, compared to ones that are more established in the Indian e-commerce market (such as apparel), Agarwal said the company is looking at both the ecosystem to see what is feasible, and also looking at unmet customer demands. He added, “Amazon will continue to launch in new categories, and we’re not chasing events with category or products. I told my team that Diwali comes every year, we can pick the categories where we will make an impact.”
He also reiterated that the company still has only one active fulfilment centre, in Mumbai, and said more would be developed over time as the needs in India grow, adding that Amazon has a long-term plan for the market. Asked if recent fluctuations in the rupee might affect these plans, he said, “Our strategy is to focus on the constants for long-term planning. If you look at a month-long or a three-month event and plan for that, then you’re not really planning for growth.”