The pandemic has made us realized the role e-commerce plays in today’s retail scenario. Amid lockdowns, when brick-and-mortar retailers had to shut shops, consumers hopped onto the e-commerce bandwagon to fulfill their daily needs.
Impact Of Covid-19
Amid the pandemic, a lot of consumers not only from the big cities but also from the small cities moved. Tier-II and beyond has become the major contributor to the revenues of e-commerce companies.
“65 percent of orders and 85 percent of new customers who came to Amazon.in during the pandemic were from Tier II and below geographies. This clearly shows the rise in shopping in this class of towns, and customers across nearly 100 percent of Indian pin codes are actually shopping with us. Voice and video-enabled shopping have helped consumers come online,” says Manish Tiwary, Vice President, Amazon India.
The sellers associated with the e-commerce major have noted a major change in consumer buying behavior.
“Over the last year, sellers on Amazon have seen a high demand in categories such as groceries, work from home accessories, online schooling enablers like laptops, smart devices, things that help you work from home like headphones, office furniture, etc.,” he further adds.
Apart from this, Amazon also saw an upsurge in demand for personal grooming products like trim shavers, hair removal products, and other wellness products. The e-commerce giant also witnessed a high demand for hygiene products, gardening tools, and barbeque options to name a few.
Amazon is helping sellers to grow these categories by sharing aggregated customer insights.
“We work quite closely with our sellers to fulfill the changing customer demand and our focus is on three key areas:
- First, of course, is the selection. We believe that we should offer the widest possible selection to our customers and we work with the sellers to do that.
- Second, which is very important, is affordability
- Third is the convenience where we help our sellers stock them, ship their products to consumers so that it reaches customers quickly,” he says.
Supporting SMEs and SMBs
The pandemic has been unprecedented, not only for us as customers, not only for large corporations but also for SMEs. Amazon works with lakhs of small businesses and SMBs. And therefore, right at the beginning of the pandemic, the e-commerce company started taking measures to ensure their sellers survive during these difficult times.
“The first thing which we did was ensuring a group health insurance benefit for sellers to cover the entire medical expenses for them in case of any hospitalization and treatment due to the COVID-19. Second, we waved away a large number of fees to ensure that the business of small sellers continues to be viable. We also realized that working capital is very difficult for resellers during these challenging times and started something called on-demand disbursement. Apart from this, we also organized a series of large events focused on the smaller centres,” he elaborates.
Offering B2C Opportunities to Indian Exporters
Apart from this, Amazon is supporting exporters to expand their B2C reach. Today, most of the Indian exporters have largely gone through the B2B route to reach customers abroad, and therefore, they do not get the value for what they create.
“We are offering the services, where these exporters can set up their B2C account in six minutes for probably 50 percent of the world’s economy,” he says.
What’s New in FMCG Space?
Amazon has always been operating in any segment where they can leverage technology to deliver a good customer experience. And one such category where it is betting big is the FMCG Space.
“We believe that we are learning the food delivery business. We've been present in Bengaluru for some time and we are very focused on our Prime customers. Once customers give us the thumbs up that they love what they experience, we would definitely want to expand. But we are only in its early days and there is a lot to be learned in that business,” Tiwary says.
Voice-Enabled and Video-Enabled Shopping
To expand its customer base, Amazon is offering voice-enabled shopping. Customers can also use Alexa to shop and that makes it very convenient for a certain set of customers who prefer to use voice.
“It is so much easier ordering using voice and typing. So, we believe that voice and video are important, as more and more people use this for shopping across the country,” he states.
The Way Ahead
At present, Amazon has close to 700,000 plus sellers. The warehouse capacity of the e-commerce brand spans across 32 million cubic feet and it has given employment to 100,000 plus employees and close to 800,000 people depend on it directly. Going ahead, Amazon is planning to onboard more sellers seamlessly.
“Our biggest innovation would be on the seller ecosystem front. Apart from this, we are excited to get into some new categories like food and pharmacy. We are already testing pharmacy in Bengaluru,” he says.
“Our single biggest focus is to get SMBs digitized and within that focus on getting them to do exports. Our second priority is to keep on delighting our customers with better selection, better value, and better convenience. So we would want to offer a much bigger selection than what we do currently,” he further adds.