Amazon India is going to great lengths for increasing its customer base in the country. The company on Thursday announced new categories under its 'Local Finds' programme in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Local Finds was launched in Bengaluru in early 2017, as a peer-to-peer platform for its consumers to sell their used/pre-owned phones. In November last year, Junglee was integrated into Amazon.in through Local Finds.
Amazon entered India in 2012 through Junglee – which was a discovery and price comparison site at the time. (Junglee was founded in 1996 by Anand Rajaraman, Ashish Gupta, Rakesh Mathur, and Venky Harinarayan, and bought by Amazon in 1998.) It later evolved into a peer-to-peer horizontal marketplace with books, mobile phones, kids’ products, and fashion, etc.
The wider selection from individual sellers (rather than retailers) selling on their platform was expected to increase customer base for Amazon India. According to a press release from Amazon India, sellers can now sell products across categories such as mobile and computer accessories, fashion, home, kitchen, pets, beauty, health, appliances, sports, toys, garden, bags, etc.
The press release also states that the Local Finds programme enables sellers of all sizes and scale to easily start selling on Amazon.in with simplified documentation, doorstep pickup and delivery. Sellers will be able to sell multiple products in these categories, which already exist in Amazon.in’s catalogue.
It quotes Mahendra Nerurkar, Director – Amazon Pay, “With Local Finds, we aim to seamlessly connect sellers and buyers, help them quickly list and discover each other’s products and transact tension free with delivery, payments and customer service facilitated by Amazon. We are humbled to see over 70,000 sellers list their products on Local Finds since January last year.”
Amazon is making a bet on a battleground that many have failed before. Gurgaon-based online marketplace Snapdeal had acquired Shopo, an online marketplace for designer handicraft products, in 2013 and invested $100 million into it over two years to re-launch it as a mobile-only marketplace where sellers and customers can chat. The aim was to facilitate sellers who cannot be accommodated on Snapdeal’s platform.
But Shopo did not provide logistics, just gave references to sellers on the courier partners they could use. Similarly, they assisted sellers with payment support by giving them the options of cash on delivery and online payment methods. Shopo had no ad sales although zero commission marketplaces usually monetise ads, services, and provide working capital loans. It shut down in early 2017.
In China, Taobao – launched by Alibaba group in 2003 – succeeded as a zero-commission marketplace by monetising through advertising. Whether Amazon India will make it or break it with Local Finds will depend on this major factor.