“We spent over nine years here. Internally we always say it's still Day Zero because we have hardly scratched the surface.” Manish Tiwary, who is the country manager and vice president of Consumer Business at Amazon India, shares his views on the India market, old and new competition, and emerging disruptive trends redefining how consumers shop on the Internet.
What is your view on this festive season or Fifth Quarter, as it’s informally known, and the Indian market in the next few months?
The last few years have been very difficult for everyone personally, professionally and on the income front. In some ways this festive season will unlock our next level of customers and consumption and that's how we are looking at it. In Amazon, we have a saying: Focus on the input. You can't control the output. That's what we're focused on.
At this stage, the country is sort of leapfrogging and in every way - you look at the digitization, the payment industry, the startup culture, the digital culture. As we move towards this goal of the $5 trillion economy, I think we have a few things which make me personally very optimistic. One is the age profile, the income profile and, more importantly, the spirit of entrepreneurship and the resilience which all of us as consumers and as professionals have.
What is the next big thing coming down the line for the ecommerce Industry? What do you have your eyes on?
To tell you the truth, I think a lot has been spoken about e-commerce but it's still a very small sector. It will likely be 2-3 percent of the overall retail industry. We spent over nine years here, internally we always say it's still day zero because we have hardly scratched the surface. We have 100 million plus customers, suppliers all over, but a lot more needs to be done. And I think that's where our focus is at the customer front.
We are trying very hard to create an experience which will appeal to our customers, which is shopping in regional languages, voice shopping, visual shopping, making the entire services like pay on delivery, enabling every time you deliver not only a box, but the related services around it. So that's been a focus as far as the customer journey is concerned.
How do you reach out to the next 100 million?
We feel good about the progress we are making. We often speak about the three things which matter: selection, pricing and convenience. While we feel good about the fact that we have 12 crore plus products, there are such good manufacturers and producers of unique products across the country. Again, there also we just scratched the surface. So we’re driving a lot of initiatives like local shops on Amazon, digital kendras to get people online.
I think the customer flywheel and the seller flywheel is one flywheel as you get more selection and more and more customers come - so that's where I think we feel humbled by the progress we've made in the first nine years. But there's a long way to go and that's what the focus is on - the next 100 million customers and the next lot of sellers.
You mentioned voice and visual shopping. There’s live commerce, influencer-led commerce and social commerce, which is also leading the charge. And there are old players and new, younger and aggressive players. So what else will we see coming up in terms of how Amazon will capture more of that growth away from its competition?
The industry right now is at a really nascent stage and therefore I do welcome new players entering the sector. Innovation is what will drive growth. That is what has happened over the last decade or so. And that is what is going to happen.
We've anchored ourselves around some areas which we believe we can sustainably make a difference to the customer. The first one which is very important is we provide an ecosystem of services. It's not just about shopping. Think of a Prime member who can experience the best content in terms of Prime video, the best reading in terms of Kindle and the best music in terms of Amazon music, and the best payment options in terms of the identical branded credit card and of course shopping sitting at the base of it. So I think our intent has always been to delight our customers by making this ecosystem of services. We are very focused on that and what differentiated us.
The second one, which we believe we are quite good at, is how we leverage technology. Alexa is something which Amazon has invested heavily in and today it works in several local languages. We worked quite hard to integrate some of these new services into a normal flywheel of shopping and selling. And we believe we have that expertise.
Similarly, if we look at machine learning which is critical as you reach out the next 100 million. People would want far more personalized services. So the way you will see your Amazon homepage will be different from others and AI and machine learning is at the heart of how to achieve this. And finally, in order to make an impact we always talk about the fact that our vision is to change the way India buys and sells. We have to take every ecosystem partner and that's how you can actually make an impact.
This entire thought of leveraging the ecosystem is something which is very powerful. So as we go through the next decade, we will continue to anchor around customers and around leveraging that ecosystem for them. Technology which will be at the heart of what we do and working with the ecosystem of stores, suppliers and manufacturers.