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‘India among most important markets where we operate’


“If you look at some of the big markers of opportunity, we certainly feel India is on the shortlist of the largest opportunities we have as a business. It’ll soon be the third-largest GDP (gross domestic product) country in the world in the next few years, the evolution of the digital stack here I think makes us optimistic about how large an online business can be created here,” said Russell Grandinetti, senior vice president, International Stores Business, Amazon.

Grandinetti joined Amazon in 1998, and in his current role, he is responsible for leading Amazon’s international e-commerce business across Europe, UK, Japan, India, China, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Australia and the Middle East. He also oversees consumer payments, Prime, books, consumer marketing and engagement, and Amazon Business. In prior roles at Amazon, he served as senior vice president for Kindle.

Earlier this year, Amazon promised an additional $15 billion in investments in the market by 2030 taking up its total investment across businesses in India to $26 billion. In May, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) announced plans to invest $12.7 billion in cloud infrastructure in the country by 2030—the investment is part of the overall $26 billion.

Grandinetti, who was in the capital on Thursday at the company’s annual Amazon Smbhav event, said Amazon will make investments across its businesses, including the marketplace that it currently operates in India apart from its AWS, among other things.

“I’m comfortable speaking for my colleagues in AWS and other parts of the businesses to say that in every single segment of Amazon, we view India as one of the most important markets in which we operate. As I’ve already described, we also view our teams in India as not just creating an opportunity for us in India, but in other things around the world. The frequency with which India is discussed inside the boardroom at Amazon is very high,” Grandinetti said. Growth potential of the India marketplace is clearly among the largest there is, he said.

Grandinetti’s comments come as retailers across the board have stepped up investments in India’s retail market. Last month, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the Qatar government promised to invest 8,278 crore ($1 billion) into Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, the country’s largest retailer. At $70 billion, e-commerce is still a sliver of the overall retail business in the country.

On Thursday, Amazon signed a memorandum of understanding with India Post for an integrated cross-border logistics solution helping micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with e-commerce exports. Additionally, Amazon is engaging with Indian Railways’ Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp. of India Ltd to enable its sellers deliver faster to their customers across India. Amazon also announced that it would introduce a first of its kind generative AI-based personal digital assistant for sellers and opened its logistics and supply-chain capabilities to direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands across India through multichannel fulfilment capabilities.

Amazon went live in India in 2013—the market has since transformed with greater smartphone penetration and simpler payment systems fuelling growth of e-commerce. “I can just tell you that our belief in the opportunity in this market has continued to be bolstered by the changes that we’ve seen happening by the progress we’ve been making in our business. We continue to set new records for customers, sales and the number of sellers with whom we work,” he added.

However, navigating regulatory challenges in the country hasn’t been easy. India is set to roll out a comprehensive e-commerce policy that will put additional compliance burden on marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart. India also prohibits e-commerce firms from holding inventory and instead operating as marketplaces.

Grandinetti said the world over digital businesses are coming under greater scrutiny as they become a more pivotal part of consumers’ lives. “I have had the privilege of working with our business in 20 different countries. First, digital businesses in general, forget about e-commerce, but even communications, social media—they’ve grown to become important enough in people’s lives where governments are trying to say how do we evolve the regulatory environment to make sure people have a great experience when they’re online,” he said.

The governments also want to “make sure we can support business and industry, make sure we keep people safe and maintain their rights. I think, at a very simple basic level what we want to accomplish as a business and what governments around the world, including India, want to accomplish are far more aligned than different,” he said.

However, occasionally, there’ll be regulations that “we might not necessarily have chosen or we think maybe that’s not the optimal way to accomplish what I think the shared goal is. But that’s okay, too. Our goal is just in the environment that we’re given to work to offer the best possible customer experience,” he said.

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Updated: 01 Sep 2023, 11:33 PM IST

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.