E-commerce market growing at a healthy pace, says Amazon India chief Amit Agarwal

Amazon India chief Amit Agarwal. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Amazon’s India business witnessed a massive five-fold increase in sales from its smartphone category that contributes well over half of its overall revenues, and a three-fold jump in orders from members of its Prime loyalty programme during the company’s Prime Day sale—an event that is estimated to have generated close to $1 billion in global sales for the American e-commerce giant.

In an interview on Thursday, Amazon India chief Amit Agarwal insisted that the e-commerce market is growing at a healthy clip, which in turn is driving Amazon’s business in India—although recent reports have indicated that the online retail market is still battling a slowdown in overall growth.

“We had record members sign up, both during the 30-hours of Prime Day and in the lead up,” said Agarwal, senior vice-president and country head of Amazon India. “More people joined Amazon Prime since we announced Prime Day than (in) any one full month since the launch of Prime (in India).”

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Amazon generated $1 billion in overall sales, citing estimates from brokerages such as JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Amazon’s Prime Day event, which was launched three years ago, was partly inspired by Alibaba’s Singles Day sale event in China, as well as other traditional US retail events such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Amazon India said categories such as smartphones, fashion and consumables grew at a rapid pace.

In smartphones, brands such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, Honor, Motorola, Samsung and Apple helped drive growth.

Amazon said that its own stable of devices, including the Amazon Kindle tablet and the Fire TV Stick, were among the highest selling products during the sale event.

“Prime is a sign of a healthy customer base—and that your customers are ready to pay for convenience,” said Agarwal. “It’s been successful for Amazon globally—and India is no different. We will continue to invest in expanding the e-commerce market in India…and as we do that, we hopefully will see growth in Prime as well, because it indicates loyalty and loyalty has its own flywheel effect.”

Since Amazon launched its Prime membership programme in India, it has become an important lever of growth for the company in its market-share battle against arch-rival Flipkart.

Flipkart also has a loyalty programme called Flipkart First, but so far the company has not promoted it aggressively.

Last July, Amazon India launched its annual Prime membership programme in more than 100 cities, offering one-day and two-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of products and exclusive discounts for an initial price of Rs499 per year.

Prime was the single biggest-selling product among the 15 million units sold on Amazon India during a five-day sale in October.

Amazon expanded the service by adding video content in December through Amazon Prime Video, pitting it against the likes of Netflix and Hotstar.

In April, Mint had reported that Amazon’s Prime membership programme was accounting for nearly 30% of all orders on Amazon India.

Agarwal said the ratio of Prime orders has been constant over the past few quarters, given Amazon India’s growth from new consumers.

“You want your overall marketplace to be growing as well. When you’re growing 85% year-over-year (for March quarter) overall, you want growth from newer customers, and not just from your existing customers. You don’t want that percentage (30%) going up, because that would indicate that we are stagnating as a growing marketplace,” said Agarwal.

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This article was first published on LiveMint.com