Amazon's India goals aligned to government's digital priorities, says Amit Agarwal


Amazon’s business goals are in line with the government’s long-term priorities of digital empowerment and inclusion, its India head Amit Agarwal told ET in an interview.

The US-based ecommerce behemoth has always complied with local laws, he added.

Agarwal also reiterated Amazon’s commitment to empowering small sellers on its platform, countering narratives that it favours only a few large sellers.

“In the long run, the priorities of the government, namely digital empowerment and inclusion, are aligned with our business priorities. We can only grow if more sellers come online and bring selection, and more customers come online to buy from Amazon,” he said.

Amazon said more than 4,100 businesses did sales worth over Rs 1 crore each last year, translating to at least Rs 4,000 crore from small sellers on its platform.

The company’s cumulative exports from India have grown to $2 billion and it has signed up 150,000 new sellers as well as 50,000 local shops in the last year, offsetting some of the drop in sales in offline retail.

“I’m sure the government recognises and appreciates that,” Agarwal added.

Despite e-commerce accounting for just 3% of India’s retail sector, it is playing a meaningful role in the country’s economic recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and will play a big role in growth over the next decade, he said.

He also sought a framework to accelerate growth of e-commerce rather than policies that would restrict it.

“What we look forward to is more of a stable, predictable, and enabling policy framework that can help realise this potential. It should allow more opportunities for all businesses to go online, help ease of doing business online and reduce compliance burden,” Agarwal said.

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The government is considering further refinements to its policies governing e-commerce marketplaces.

Recently, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said the government may issue further clarity to ensure e-commerce companies follow the rules in letter and spirit, reiterating his stance since assuming office in May 2019.

On the business front, Agarwal said that there has been a structural shift towards consumers buying online because of the pandemic, while sellers who have moved online would continue to do more on the internet.

There is, however, no data to accurately reflect this shift as the situation has yet to normalise fully, he added.

On segments of e-commerce that are expected to show growth in the short to medium term, Agarwal said the company was excited about combining its Pantry and Fresh products in cities where they both were available, as these were driving growth.

Amazon’s local shops initiative had vastly increased selection on the platform, as 80% of the items that these stores were listing had not been previously available on the platform, he added.

“We see a large opportunity in rolling out our one grocery offering across all the cities where both Fresh and Pantry are available. We are also testing pharmacies in Bangalore. It’s a complicated category and we want to be very careful because safety and people’s health is at stake. But that is definitely an area that we need to continue to experiment and figure out how to serve customers,” Agarwal said.





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