Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Amazon Recruits Indian Vendors for U.S. Buyers, But Struggles to Win Shoppers’ Trust in India

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Amazon.com is aggressively recruiting Indian vendors in a bid to offer lower prices to customers as the holiday season kicks in. The American e-commerce company is offering some of the best deals for this holiday season even as Indians are shown to prefer the domestic firm Flipkart.

The secret behind Amazon offering luxury leather shoes and bedding at competitive prices is because it has roped in around 27,000 Indian sellers since it started the program outreach two years ago, the New York Times reported. For many merchants, partnering or selling at Amazon.com provides them the opportunity to sell their products in the American market. “Amazon handles everything in the U.S., from shipping to customer handling, so we can focus on making the best quality products and adding more products to our catalog,” Abhishek Middha, founder of The Boho Street that sells vegan tapestries, incense and handcrafted copper mugs, told NYT.

The vast variety of services provided by Amazon is what makes many merchants switch from smaller e-commerce marketplaces. Abhijit Kamra, the head of Amazon’s global selling program in India, revealed that Americans buy a wide variety of products made in India, such as cotton towels, the publication reported. “What we are trying to do is compress the global supply chain and bring sellers and customers closer. Some of the 75 million Indian products on the main Amazon.com site, such as saris, tend to attract customers of Indian heritage. But other categories, like jewelry and health products, have wider appeal,” he was quoted as saying.

Amazon has a special page, Amazon.com/India, that lists many Indian products to assist their customers in the United States in finding them. To prepare for the holiday season that started with Black Friday, the company helped sellers prepare themselves by stockpiling goods in the United States. To draw the attention of the shoppers, special “lightning deals” were programmed. The company even went a step ahead to lend money to some sellers for inventory, the report added.

Shoppers in India, however, trust Flipkart more than Amazon, a recent survey conducted by e-commerce advisory firm Redseer Management Consulting showed. The survey was based on the answers of 7,500 respondents polled across 30 cities between July and September 2017.

Flipkart is mostly driven by word-of-mouth branding and has a greater resonance with customers, Kanishka Mohan, a senior consultant at Redseer, said. “A clear trend from our study indicates that Flipkart enjoys greater recall with new online shoppers, who are coming primarily from tier 2 towns and lower income groups,” he said.

The companies are rated on three parameters in the survey — most trusted brand, best value, and buying experience — to capture consumer perceptions (and not business performance), Redseer said.

On a scale of 25, Flipkart was rated 20, while Amazon was rated 18 for the trust they enjoyed with Indian buyers. Snapdeal was rated 8, while Paytm, Shopclues and eBay were given 7, 4 and 1, respectively, by Indian buyers.

Amazon, however, disagreed with the findings of the survey and said that they were poorly informed speculative reports. “We have noticed poorly informed speculative reports with irrelevant sample sizes whose numbers do not add up to what we are seeing in the industry,” said an Amazon India spokesperson, Quartz reported. “We continue to be the fastest-growing e-commerce marketplace in India,” he added.

Although Indian buyers feel that Amazon offers a better shopping experience, their trust still lies with Flipkart. On a scale of 50, America e-commerce giant Amazon was rated 49 for shopping experience, while Flipkart was given 47 out of 50. Both e-commerce platforms were rated 25 out of 25 for value for money by Indians.