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After Roti and Kapda, Amazon bets on Makaan

business Updated: Nov 01, 2016 11:13 IST
Sunny Sen
Sunny Sen
Hindustan Times
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Amazon India head Amit Agarwal. (Hemant Mishra/ Mint)

Jeff Bezos-led Amazon, which is breathing down Flipkart’s neck in India, is likely to soon list houses and apartments, or run promotional campaigns to generate leads for real estate firms, a top company source said.

The company may take a nominal booking amount (like it does in case of automobiles) to begin with, the source added. “It is too early to give out exact details.”

In December, Amazon did an online property event with Tata Housing to advertise their property on its site. It did a similar program with Magic Bricks in August.

Though online property listing is not new –, Magic Bricks and 99acres are among those that list properties, but Amazon might become the first broad-base e-commerce firm to foray into the business.

Though Amazon India head Amit Agarwal did not confirm the move, he said: “People trust Amazon for everything in their lives... It’s like the Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (phenomenon), and when you start trusting someone for that, that’s very much it.”

Roti, Kapda aur Makaan – the basic needs for generations – has been the most popular slogan of Indian socialism, coined by Indira Gandhi in the late 1960s. A decade later, the slogan was made into a film by yesteryears star Manoj Kumar.

Amazon already caters to the first two -- It entered grocery in 2015 (Roti stands for food) and is one of the world’s largest apparel e-tailer (Kapda refers to clothes).

“Amazon’s biggest advantage is its user base and its analytics. However, real estate is a very different business, and needs to be approached in a different manner, which is not Amazon’s forte,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and chief analyst of Greyhound Research.

For Agarwal, what matters is that a person should be able to come to Amazon and buy “anything, whatever your need… on a daily basis.”

The potential is huge – India is like 25 different countries, each state has its own culture, language, preferences, consumption habits.

“In a country where there is so much diversity, and where convenience is so poor, wouldn’t you want to touch every one and change their daily lives?” Agarwal said.

The sale of its Prime memberships, which allows free and fast delivery has cemented Agarwal’s belief. People wouldn’t buy membership in advance for fast delivery of a mobile phone, he said. “But, if I tell you that you buy anything and we will deliver it fast and free, then it makes sense… It shows that customers have moved to a point where they are buying a lot of things on Amazon.”

And it has the scale to do so . During the festival season alone, the number of sarees it sold could cover more than 150 cricket stadiums, the number of books, if kept one above the other, would have been six times higher than Mount Everest, and lipsticks could deck up around 25 million brides.