Bengaluru: Earlier this week, Barclays Plc said in a report that Amazon India recorded gross sales of $7.5 billion in the year ended March 2018, compared with Flipkart’s standalone gross sales of $6.2 billion. The report has stirred a huge debate on the market leadership position in Indian e-commerce, and has raised questions on Walmart’s assertion of Flipkart’s dominance in India. In an interview with Mint, Amazon India’s country head Amit Agarwal reiterated that the e-commerce major is the fastest growing player in India and said that he was not surprised with the report’s findings. Edited excerpts:
What has Amazon done differently in the last 12 months compared to its first four years in India?
We have now more than 170 million items on Amazon.in. If you track the growth of selection, probably more than half of them got added in the last 12 months. You can’t achieve those flywheel effects till you focus on the basics. When I look at the last 12-18 months, our rate of selection expansion has gone up because more and more of our sellers are choosing to sell on Amazon...that shows that sellers are broadly successful on Amazon’s marketplace and not just a few big sellers driving sales. In terms of pricing, we had a lot of focus on making things more affordable for customers by launching different affordability options... A lot of those things allowed customers to take advantage of our broad selection.
And, then, in terms of delivery experience, we continued to expand our fulfilment capabilities and logistics network so that we could deliver to every corner of the country. We are seeing all of these three things move faster every year. Another flywheel that plays well for us is Prime. Prime continues to surge… All of these are allowing us to grow faster than the landscape and faster than anybody else. We are the most visited and most transacted marketplace in India, as we said earlier during Diwali. So, I’m not surprised that many other reports are recognizing the same impact.
You had earlier said that Amazon was the biggest e-commerce player in India in terms of both sales and units. Do you still maintain that?
It’s very hard for us to know market segment shares in a landscape where data is not readily available. Different people have different interpretations on how they calculate their sales. We are very clean on our outlook on looking at net sales, post returns, post cancellations, etc. Based on our perspective, we are very excited with the momentum that we have.
Based on your own methodology, would you say you’re ahead of competition?
I can’t comment on other people’s sales. We are very excited about the momentum that we have.
Flipkart has claimed today that they are twice the size of Amazon. Would you like to address that claim?
We are too busy focusing on customers rather than addressing unsubstantiated claims.
How big a differentiator has Prime been for Amazon in India?
Prime as a programme is an output of the focus of what I just said. From that perspective, the growth in Prime is very humbling because it indicates that we are earning more and more customer trust in India as the starting point and the destination for buying anything online... So, I think Prime is a seal of approval in how differentiated our overall experience is.
As per data from recent regulatory filings, Amazon has nearly exhausted its $5 billion commitment towards India. Is the parent company planning to make fresh investments in India?
We are extremely humbled by the response that we’ve got. If somebody told me, that in five years we will be the largest online store, the most visited and the most transacted marketplace in the country, I would’ve really thought that that person was joking. So, the traction that we’ve seen in a really short period of time is really heartening and really motivating… It’s still very early for e-commerce in India and Amazon is also just getting started in India. We are really committed to India for the long term.