Economic Times: October, 2015
New Delhi: Amazon expects India to overtake Japan, Germany and the UK to become its largest overseas market besides becoming the quickest to reach $10 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) in the company's history
I can't project the year but in the next few years India will be the second-biggest market for us (after the US) — there is no doubt," said Diego Piacentini, senior vice-president for international business at the world's largest online retailer. "It was the fastest billion-dollar GMV for us and I believe it will even end up to be the fastest to get to $10 billion."
Amazon declined to give the size of its current business in India but insiders put it at more than $2 billion in GMV, or the total worth of products sold on its platform. Amazon started its India operations in 2013 with books and movies and today sells about 30 million products on its platform. With growth in India having vastly exceeded expectations, expansion won't be constrained by investment, Piacentini told ET, suggesting that the company may pour even more money into the country than the $2 billion that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos pledged last year.
"We have been very active in increasing the amount of investments," said Piacentini, who's a member of the S Team of senior global leaders that report directly to Bezos. "Every time we look, the opportunity very much exceeds that — it is big. That number is dynamic and it is growing and we don't stick with one number. We have targets and the Indian team keeps beating the targets and we will never be constrained by budget. The budget will be dynamic and it will keep evolving."
The company will be looking to keep pace as investors have been pumping money into homegrown rivals such as Flipkart and Snapdeal to get a slice of India's burgeoning ecommerce market. A February report by Boston Consulting Group and the Retailers Association of India said the market, which includes travel and other services, is expected to multiply to $60-70 billion by 2019 from $17 billion in 2014.
Of the $2 billion mentioned by Bezos, the company has already injected about .`3,000 crore ($460 million) into flagship Amazon Seller Services in the last 10 months or so. Also, its logistics arm has invested heavily to triple warehousing capacity in the last one year to 5 million cubic feet in 21 fulfilment centres in 10 cities.
"The biggest surprise is no doubt how fast our size in India has grown. I am an optimistic person but I never guessed that we will become this size in only just more than two years," said Piacentini, who oversees business in eight countries in Europe and Asia. "I have never seen anything like this - not in the US, not in Europe, not in Japan and we are number one in the US, number one in Europe and number one in Japan... This is extraordinary."
Since India bars foreign capital in business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce, Amazon operates a marketplace, lending its platform for other retailers and manufacturers to sell products, as do Flipkart and Snapdeal.
India's brick-and-mortar retailers allege that this is merely a ruse to circumvent the rules and plan to move the Delhi HighCourt on the matter. That hasn't deterred investors from entering the sector, raising valuations to record levels.
Amazon said it won't move to an app-only mode and will invest in technologies for mobile as well as computers. Flipkart is said to have put its plans in this respect on hold to assess the impact of such a shift.