Amazon sells 50 kinds of churan and we are proud of it, says Agarwal

Amazon is proud to sell churan, not because Flipkart, its biggest rival in India, doesn’t sell it, but because once people buy products of daily consumption it makes the e-commerce company more relevant .
Amit Agarwal VP and MD of Amazon India in Bangalore.(Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
Amit Agarwal VP and MD of Amazon India in Bangalore.(Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
Updated on Oct 18, 2016 01:14 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

Amazon is proud to sell churan, not because Flipkart, its biggest rival in India, doesn’t sell it, but because once people buy products of daily consumption it makes the e-commerce company more relevant .

“People trust their traditional sources to buy everyday essentials, but when they start trusting a new source, it is a huge accomplishment,” said Amit Agarwal, country manager, Amazon India.

Besides products, Amazon and Flipkart have been quibbling over the sale of churan, hing and memberships this festival season! A day after Flipkart said Amazon was showing high sales by selling trivial items like hing and churan, Amazon hit back by saying it offered the largest stock in fashion — mainly clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Buying ‘churan’ and ‘hing’ online — Amazon sells 50 different kinds of each of them — is a reflection of the Indian middle-class taking to e-commerce to purchase things that they otherwise buy from the neighbourhood store. “Even my mom now knows that Amazon sells churan,” Agarwal added.

Besides showing how mainstream Amazon has become in just three years since it set shop in India, the trend is also is a reflection of the spread of items that customers shop for online.

Even though cellphones, large appliances and television sets were the top sellers on Amazon, where it witnessed a tough competition from Flipkart, it had no rivals in everyday essentials.

Amazon wants to give online shoppers just about everything one is looking for, and deliver it to the doorstep, be it grocery, cosmetics, electronics, clothes, or large and small appliances.

For the longest time, e-commerce was a discount-led phenomena limited to customers shopping for clothes, mobile phones or electronics, once or twice a year. But, this festival season changed that for Amazon.

During the first phase of the sale, 90% of the people from 20,000 serviceable pin codes in India ordered at least once in 120 hours. That is also because in the last one year, Amazon added more than 60 million products to its platform (it had added 20 million in the first two years). Flipkart has 80 million products.

“We take a lot of pride in adding a lot of selection… More the selection, more is the sale… customers derive more convenience, seller see more sales, then they add more products, and the flywheel keeps spinning. We become more relevant to them every day,” Agarwal said.

This is also what the company does globally – enables customers to discover and buy anything online. But for Agarwal, the journey has just begun in India, and 80 million items is a very small number, considering that it requires billions of items to build civilization. Agarwal’s work is far from done – selling ‘churan’ is the beginning of the “big change” Amazon wants to bring to Indians’ buying pattern.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sunny Sen was part of Hindustan Times’ nationwide network of correspondents that brings news, analysis and information to its readers. He no longer works with the Hindustan Times.

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