NEW DELHI :
The local arm of Amazon.com Inc. is setting up brick-and-mortar ‘Digital Haats’ in Indian cities, especially around manufacturing hubs, that will offer products and services to help digitize small and medium businesses, a top executive at the online retailer said.
The plan is to scale up to 100 such Haats or marketplaces by 2025, Gopal Pillai, Amazon India vice-president for seller services said in an interview on Thursday.
These physical haats will provide a range of services like e-commerce on-boarding, imaging and cataloging, warehouse space, logistics, digital marketing, and compliance for small businesses and manufacturers.
They will see the retailer work with several service providers, if required, who will provide services to small manufacturers who wish to sell their goods or services on the internet or leverage such services, irrespective of whether they are associated with Amazon or not.
“We would imagine it like a food court or a store of a telecom company where you will see several booths offering different services," Pillai said.
Pillai did not share the exact timeline or disclose the locations, only saying, “We want to launch the first Digital Haat at the earliest."
He, however, indicated that the retailer could possibly look at manufacturing clusters in cities such as Tirupur and Erode in Tamil Nadu, and Surat and Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The idea, Pillai added, is to create a “physical set-up in a manufacturer incubation zones."
“There are plenty of opportunities—these are the potential possible options, we want to do the right thing for the cluster and ensure the blueprint we create looks well and truly helps the SMBs in the region," he said.
“We will evolve—there are a set of services which will be free, and a set of services that will involve service providers who are providing it," Pillai said without sharing a firm plan.
Amazon’s Digital Haat programme is among several that the retailer is running in India as it seeks to dominate the country’s retail trade.
The retailer wants to rapidly draw more sellers and partners into its fold to compete with Walmart-backed Flipkart and home-grown Reliance Jio, which has stepped up efforts to digitise millions of kirana or neighbourhood stores.
Amazon India currently works with 550,000 sellers. But it has bigger plans.
The move is in line with announcements made earlier this month by the retailer’s founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos for plans to invest $1 billion in digitizing Indian micro, small and medium businesses.
Bezos, who was on a three-day visit to the country, also promised to create a million new jobs. He faced protests by small traders during his visit.