Amazon.com, the world's largest online retailer, sees no hurdles to growth in India despite regulatory problems ranging from tax-based restrictions on selling in Karnataka to curbs on foreign direct investment (FDI) in e-commerce and retail, its charismatic CEO Jeff Bezos said on Sunday.
"I don't see any obstacles," Bezos told Hindustan Times in an interview in Bangalore on Sunday after landing here in a private jet to start a four-day tour of India where a huge emerging Internet-based market and thousands of software engineers are a big draw for the Seattle-based giant.
"This model is doing extremely well," Bezos said in a reference to Amazon helping thousands of merchants using his company's technology-rich website as an online marketplace. He said Amazon believed in adapting itself to each nation, not comparing markets with one another. He said he has no plan to meet government officals in the current visit.
Full interview: 'Our job is to adapt to rules, India is no different,' says Jeff Bezos in interview
Moreover, technological and business processes perfected by Amazon's engineers in India would be exported to other parts of the world, he said.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at Orion Mall. (Source: Kashif Masood)
"He (Modi) has a positive international reputation. They seem him as constructive, practical," Bezos said but added that he was not comparing the leader with any other. As a person deeply interested in promoting space travel himself, the Mangalyaan mission impressed him a lot.
"India's accomplishment on Mars is just incredible. If you follow space you know how hard it is," Bezos said.
Famous for his raucous laughter and a bald pate, Bezos is bullish on India, where Amazon and its subsidiary, Junglee, face intense competition from the aggressive, homegrown Flipkart.com -- which in its own style welcomed Bezos to Bangalore with flashy banners.
Asked about competition from this or others, Bezos said the Indian venture was dong well already. "At Amazon, we obsess over our customers, not competitors."
Amazon is open to acquisitions anywhere including India, but the company usually did buyouts to acquire "unique" capabilities while believing in organic growth, Bezos said. Authorities in Karnataka have stopped Amazon India from selling several products incuding electronics items by accusing the giant of directly selling to consumers while citing third-party merchants as the dealers. Amazon denies any irregularity.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating Amazon India to find out if the company has sold products directly to customers and violated India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) laws.
Several Indian companies such as Flipkart has moved to a marketplace model to prevent flouting norms.
Bezos also spoke of his love for the use of drones for delivery -- in which Deutsche Post recently beat Amazon by starting the use of the unmanned aircraft for delivery of goods in a remote area of Germany.
"I am super excited about the drone. The hardest part is the regulatory part," Bezos said, adding Amazon will be fanning out to influence governments across the world to allow the use of drones in e-commerce.