Amazon Marketplace Chief on What Makes the India Launch Different (Q&A)
On Tuesday, Amazon announced the launch of its latest online commerce marketplace — this one in India. At launch, Amazon.in is selling print books as well as movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray. The site will begin selling mobile phones and cameras in the coming weeks.
The launch of Amazon India, the 10th country-specific Amazon Marketplace, comes amid growing interest from American companies — including eBay — in the country’s e-commerce market. This morning, I spoke to Peter Faricy, who oversees all Amazon Marketplace businesses worldwide, about the India launch, as well as Amazon’s new online wine store in the U.S. Here’s an edited version of our conversation:
AllThingsD: Why is now the right time to launch an Amazon Marketplace in India?
Without question, the population of customers in India is very, very large, and we know a lot of people there are already shopping on Amazon.uk and Amazon.com. One of the things we do always is listen carefully to what customers are asking for, and for years customers were asking for a dedicated Amazon site in their country.
At launch, the site is only selling print books as well as movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray. Why is that?
These are products people in India were looking for the most on both our U.K. and U.S. sites. So we think it’s probably a great way to start. We also announced that mobile phones and cameras are coming soon, as well as many other products.
Will you start selling digital versions of books or is the market not mature enough there?
We’re not going to talk about other future potential product categories, but I say, “stay tuned.” I do think digital products of all sorts have traction in India and certainly will become more popular over time.
What’s the relationship between Junglee.com — the shopping comparison site you launched in India last year — and Amazon.in, other than that both are owned by Amazon?
I don’t think there’s meant to be any more explicit relationship than that; given the evolution of where India is in e-commerce, we think both sites are integral to building customer-centric experiences. In many of the countries we’re in — the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Japan and even China — e-commerce has been around longer, and so you know there are many comparison services that provide the kind of service that we do with Junglee. We really saw the opportunity in India to provide both.
The press release mentioned a new fulfillment center in India. Is that new or was that already there since some other Amazon marketplaces had sellers already delivering to India?
It’s brand new. It’s our first fulfillment center in India and is on the outskirts of Mumbai and is more than a million square feet. We do plan to open up more in India by the end of the year. We now have 89 fulfillment centers worldwide.
How big is the Amazon India staff?
We don’t comment on that so I can’t help there.
Right now, Amazon.in is strictly a marketplace with products being sold by third-party businesses, not Amazon itself. Will that change?
We really believe the combination of having a marketplace that includes Amazon as a retailer plus millions of other sellers really provides the best customer experience. In all countries other than India, we have a marketplace just like that. [But] in India, we chose to launch the marketplace first and I think we’ll take a careful look at next steps and what opportunities there are to make the customer experience better. We’ll certainly consider expanding the model over time.
In the U.S., you recently opened up a marketplace for wineries to sell wine directly to consumers. How many states are you now shipping to?
We started with 12 but are now at 16 plus Washington D.C. — so 17 markets. We believe more states are going to adopt this same model.
What are the top challenges in the business right now?
We have a link in the upper left-hand corner of the site where we ask people to tell us what they think. … Two of the things we are hearing from people most … many of them ask, “When will you start allowing winery shipments directly to my state?” And the No. 2 request is people saying they would love to see added in the marketplace an international wine selection. Many people love wine from New York or Washington or California, but they also love wine from Italy, Spain and many other countries. On that, I say “stay tuned.” We love to listen to feedback and are continuing to look for ways to make the service better.