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BENGALURU: E-commerce giant Amazon India on Sunday said it has scaled up its ‘Local Shops’ programme to 50,000 offline retailers across 450 cities in the country, doubling the total number of sellers on the programme over the last four months.

Amazon’s ‘Local Shop’ programme was launched in April last year, right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, when India was under a strict lockdown with only delivery of essentials allowed.

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As part of the programme, kiranas as well as offline retailers could come aboard and start selling on Amazon’s e-commerce platform.

The programme also helps supplement existing footfalls at these kirana stores with a digital presence on Amazon.in and expands their reach beyond the normal catchment, the company said.

“What started as a pilot, has now become a pan-India phenomenon enabling local businesses to come online and benefit from technology adoption and ecommerce. The encouraging response to the Local Shops on Amazon program reflects in the rapid scale up of the program to 50,000+ sellers in less than one year of launch. It underlines how digital enablement and digital inclusion can help them scale and contribute to a digital economy," said Manish Tiwary, vice president, Amazon India.

Amazon India also said that a lot of the sellers are from tier 2 and 3 cities such as Sangli, Osmanabad, Jamnagar, Gorakhpur, Bikaner, Tumkur, among others. These sellers have a diverse range of products to offer such as fresh flowers, home and kitchen products, furniture, electronics, books, and toys among others, with an option of same or next day deliveries.

In addition, over 20,000 local shops participated in Amazon.in’s Great Indian Festival hosted in October, with orders coming from nearly 1,000 pin codes. During Amazon Small Business Day in December, a number of local shops on Amazon sellers witnessed almost doubling of sales, the company has claimed.

Amazon India currently has about 4,00,000 sellers on its platform.

Since the pandemic, the humble kirana has seen a resurgence, as local retailers stayed open for business during India’s strict lockdown. E-commerce firms have shifted gears to focus on a hyperlocal strategy to ensure faster deliveries and offering increased assortments.

Amazon India has also added over 28,000 establishments to its ‘I Have Space’ programme, including neighbourhood stores, to bolster last-mile deliveries. These establishments will deliver within a 2-4 km radius.

Arch-rival Walmart-owned Flipkart has also shifted gears to on-board neighbourhood kiranas. As a part of the preparations for the festive season and its annual Big Billion Days sale, Flipkart claimed to have on-boarded 50,000 kiranas from more than 850 cities across the country.

Currently, hyperlocal logistics capture 44% of the overall 2.5 billion e-commerce deliveries made annually, according to management consultancy Redseer.

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