Amazon launches programme to enable kirana shops, offline retailers sell online

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E-commerce giant Amazon India on Thursday launched ”Local Shops on Amazon” programme that will help local shopkeepers and kirana store owners to sell online.
The company said it has been running a pilot with more than 5,000 offline retailers and local shops over the last six months to bring the benefits of online selling closer to them.

“Code-named ”Local Shops on Amazon”, this programme helps customers discover products from local shops in their city from the convenience of their homes, while helping shopkeepers supplement their footfalls with a digital presence and expand beyond their normal catchment,” Amazon India Vice President Seller Services Gopal Pillai said in a blogpost.

These include stores from Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad,Pune, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Surat, Indore Lucknow, Saharanpur, Faridabad, Kota, Varanasi among others.

The programme pilot included sellers from different categories like kitchen, home, furniture, apparel, automotive, beauty, electronics, sports, grocery, lawn and garden, books, toys, jewellery appliances etc.

Pillai said, this programme will help customers get access to greater selection, faster deliveries, and additional value-added services, while local shops can transform themselves into digital stores. Amazon is pledging Rs 10 crore to immediately expand the pilot to include retailers and shopkeepers who wish to be part of the programme.

Interestingly, the announcement comes a day after the mega USD 5.7 billion-deal between Facebook and Reliance Industries. The deal is expected to help billionaire Mukesh Ambani create an e-commerce giant that could rival Amazon and Walmart by linking local kirana stores and consumers over the highly popular chat service, WhatsApp.

The move will help Amazon tap into the expansive base of kirana shops in the country. The e-commerce giant has often faced criticism from the trader community in the country and has been accused of anti-competitive tactics, including promoting some “preferred sellers” and in turn hurting business of other smaller sellers.

Pillai said the move will also help local shops leapfrog the commentary of “offline vs online” and instead embrace technology to transform themselves into digital and hybrid stores.

“…we expect that this programme would enable local shops to better serve their local customers and also dream bigger of going national or even global by joining some of our other programmes,” he added.

Earlier this year, Amazon had announced an additional investment of USD 1 billion to digitally enable 10 million micro, small, and medium businesses in the country by 2025, including artisans, manufacturers, retailers, and local shops.

“While we continue to double down on our efforts to widen reach and enable new market access for them, we are simultaneously working on building new capabilities to help them serve their locality, their towns and cities, more effectively,” Pillai said.

The programme is expected to see a ramp up after the nationwide lockdown – imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus – is lifted. Currently, e-commerce companies are allowed to deliver only essential items to consumers.

Under the programme, the shops will have to use their existing delivery mechanisms to deliver to customers. They can choose the areas where they can deliver the same or next day with pin-code level granularity.

In case they want to expand their serviceable areas within the city or nationally, they can engage with Amazon to utilise the latter”s services. Amazon has designed a special delivery app for local shops that will provide accurate delivery updates to customers and Amazon.

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