Amazon India has increased its offline shopping initiative to more than 1,000 outlets in an attempt to increase its reach in small towns across the Indian hinterland.
Amazon launched its offline shopping initiative called Udaan in late 2014. Under this initiative, the company selects and trains local entrepreneurs in smaller cities and towns as well as in pockets of metros where Internet connections aren’t easily available.
These local entrepreneurs run physical outlets and persuade wary consumers to overcome their mistrust of online shopping and buy phones, apparel and other products on the company’s site. Amazon delivers the products to these outlets with the local entrepreneur keeping a cut of every sale.
For e-commerce companies, reaching people and building a brand in rural India poses a challenge because of poor Internet connections, language barriers and a general mistrust of online shopping.
“With Udaan, we build trust with first-time shoppers who will then hopefully come back and shop on Amazon by themselves. We have seen that happen with quite a few of the users who have shopped via Udaan,” said Kishore Thota, head of consumer marketing, Amazon India.
Amazon India has also signed an exclusive partnership with e-commerce start-up Storeking, which has a presence in more than 10,000 rural outlets across south India. Storeking offers tens of thousands of products via its tablets installed at retail outlets and so-called corner or kirana stores in rural areas. It offers product information and shopping services in regional languages, a key attraction for rural shoppers.
“Storeking has a very wide rural presence in south India and it will help us tap a new customer base. They also have existing logistics capabilities, which we will use to deliver products,” Thota said.