American entrepreneur and investor, Jeff Bezos launched Amazon in the year 1994; way before India even discovered ecommerce. However, the largest Internet-based retailer stepped in India only two years ago in 2013. And in these 2 years, it has scaled up to become one of the biggest ecommerce players in our country.
Today, IndianOnlineSeller brings to you an exclusive interview of Amazon India’s Senior Manager – New Initiatives, Rohit Kulkarni. In Part 1 of this feature, he talks about Amazon’s new initiatives for sellers to help them to grow and expand.
IOS: Can you share Amazon’s recent seller enablement initiatives? How are sellers benefitting from it?
We have been preparing for the festive season since the last several months to give our sellers their most successful shopping period. We have introduced several innovations to enable sellers sell & grow successfully.
We launched a first-time-ever innovation called Seller Flex specifically for India. Seller Flex is started with the objective of reducing operational challenges for sellers, unlocking unlimited selection in FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon) by making it easier, convenient for sellers to enjoy the advantages of our FBA services to serve their customers on Amazon.in faster, better and efficiently this festive season.
This program allows sellers to sell their products on Amazon.in using the FBA service without moving items out of their own warehouse. For the seller this reduces cost of transportation, storage and reverse logistics. This model allows for the seller to stock and store the inventory at a single place and the seller can now list the entire inventory on Amazon.in.
On the back of Seller Flex sites, this festive season we are able to offer our customers significantly more selection at no or very low incremental fixed cost, provide extra capacity when the network is constrained and extend fulfillment capability for items that Amazon cannot or chooses not to fulfill out of conventional FCs.
Increase in capacity
We invested significantly in expanding our storage capacity for sellers. Today, we have built the maximum storage capacity in the ecommerce industry with over 21 FCs (Fulfilment Centres) operational across 10 states in India covering a total of over 2 million-square-feet of space with a storage capacity of over 5 million cubic feet – a 3X increase over last year
Seller University has been instituted to educate and enable thousands of SMEs in India to get online and benefit from the digital opportunity. Under this program we enable existing and new sellers to enroll, manage and grow their business profitably. Specifically for the festive season, we created special videos and webinars in English and Hindi teaching sellers how to handle the peak and manage customer orders efficiently. We now have close to 400 videos in 5 languages.
Service Providers Network
We expanded our Service Providers Network from 21 to over 150 to help sellers overcome capability barriers by creating a virtual platform for verified service providers & sellers to meet. Over 7000 sellers are using this currently. In fact, 433 new sellers started adopting this service during the Festive Sale week.
Amazon Trained Ecommerce Specialists (ATES)
We launched Amazon Trained Ecommerce Specialist program this year and have trained over 1500 ATES in time for the festive season.
ATES are available at a pay for use and on demand basis to sellers and have helped them list products on Amazon and manage their Amazon seller account.
We have introduced over 9000 sellers to this service.
Updated Seller App
We invested significantly to enhance the Amazon Seller app making it easy and convenient than ever before for sellers to quickly update inventory, source and list new items on Amazon.in and respond faster to customer queries thus improving the customer experience, saving time and infrastructures costs and grow profitably. The enhanced Seller App features the new barcode scanner that enables sellers to add product listing faster and with ease. The App also comes loaded with a Selling Coach that helps sellers stay on top of competition with insights on products that are running low on stock, what products to sell, and how to price more competitively.
New Rewards Program
We introduced a new Rewards Program for our sellers this season. The objective of the rewards program is to recognize sellers who have contribution to keeping the bar of customer experience high by listing quality and relevant selection, maintaining the in-stock inventory levels, by fulfilling orders on times, etc. In addition to the revenue growth through increased sales, sellers get an opportunity to earn rewards under an array of promotions. There are three types of promotions:
Dhamaka: Incentivising the best performing Sellers
Dhoom Macha Le: Incentivising sellers who contribute to desirable selection as FBA Instock with prizes such as iPhone 6 Gold, 42 inch LED TV, iPad Air 2 up for grabs. In addition sellers get a cashback of up to Rs.150 for every offer they add from the recommended selection
Baadshah: Sellers who successfully meet the high bar of Amazon customer service get the ‘Excellence kaBaadshah’ award wherein 15 sellers get an all-expenses paid trip to visit the Amazon HQ in Bangalore and interact with the senior leadership team of Amazon India
In addition, we have just introduced our ‘Hero’ Awards. Under these, we will conduct a sweepstakes for the top 15 Sellers from the Diwali Baadshah promotion. 3 lucky winners will win the ‘Where it All Began!’ prize. ‘Where it All Began!’ is an all-expense paid three- day trip to Amazon’s Seattle HQ to meet Amazon Senior Leadership along with a tour of Amazon warehouse
To help sellers and brands improve their visibility, for easy discoverability by customers and to let them take greater control of their destiny on Amazon.in, we have launched Sponsored Products. In last 4 months over 1500 sellers have actively started to advertise using Sponsored Products. These sellers are from across categories like mobile accessories, apparel, shoes, Jewellery , home décor, appliances, books .
We opened up more placements to display Sponsored Product ads just before the Festive event – for example ads on product detail pages across mobile and desktop. We also rolled out a featured called “Estimated Bid” which helps sellers increase visibility of their ads (for example the sellers now know what to do to get their ads in the 1-page of search results) while optimizing for the cost of ads. We launched custom made free training (4 weeks) and optimization program (4 weeks) for Indian sellers who may be new to digital advertising techniques. These programs are not available outside of India and have been created exclusively for Indian sellers.
In Part 2, we will share Rohit’s insights on Amazon’s plan for India to help SMEs to grow.