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Five things Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in India

29 September, 2014

Jeff Bezos, founder & CEO of world’s second largest e-commerce company Amazon.com Inc, has some interesting perspectives to share on the Indian e-com market. Talking to separate media organisations during the weekend he said Indian e-commerce business will have multiple winners and indicated that Amazon has already achieved milestone of $1 billion in sales in the country in just over a year of operations.

In his second India visit (and the first after Amazon launched its e-com business), Bezos steered clear of commenting on competitors, be it Flipkart in India or Alibaba globally, but showed optimism in how the Indian business has grown.

Bezos doesn’t seem bothered by the view that Amazon was a bit late to enter India. According to him if the results of Amazon’s operations is considered the firm entered India exactly at the right time.

Referring to business in India, he highlighted the case of Easy Ship services, pioneered by Indian team where Amazon picks up a package from the vendor directly and delivers to the customer buying it from the marketplace, as against the conventional model where such delivery is restricted to products stocked in Amazon’s warehouses. Bezos said this model can be exported to other markets.

Here we pick five key points that he made in his separate media interactions on Sunday:

Indian e-com to have multiple winners

For those debating who will win the game in Indian e-commerce (Flipkart or Amazon or Snapdeal), Bezos says there will be more than one. He did not refer to ‘how many’ of the big four (Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and eBay) will survive but refuted the view that India would be a winners-take-it-all market.

$1B in sales, already?

Bezos said the firm had previously set a milestone target at $1 billion and it has already surpassed it. He did not clarify though if he is referring to a monthly revenue run rate which annualises to $1 billion or the firm has actually sold products worth over $1 billion through Amazon.in. Remember Amazon started its Indian marketplace in June 2013 even though its search site Junglee.com has been active for some more time.

Notably, Flipkart had said early this year it has hit the revenue run rate of $1 billion of sales.

Growing inorganically

The firm is believed to be shortlisting some acquisition opportunities in India. This may come in specific verticals to boost a particular category or tech capabilities be it building swifter mobile apps or other enablers for its business. However, the firm is not going to go hammer and tongs to buy companies.

Bezos said its growth strategy in India is underpinned on growing organically. “There will be acquisitions that are practical in India as well. But I think the real thing is organic,” he said.

Disruption

Talking about disruption Bezos said, “It’s disruptive when customers change their habits. Disruption is a consequence of invention.”

He also shares his perspective on how to handle disruption saying that the best way for us to avoid that is to keep moving forward and lean into the future. He said one way is to be competitor-focused and be close followers. Talking about Amazon he said that approach is not fun and is a little bit of living in the past. “My own opinion is, living in the future and working in the future and trying to invent the future — that protects you a little bit from being disrupted. But it’s not an inoculation. Eventually, every company gets disrupted,” he said.

The Washington Post: digital vs print media

Bezos, who bought The Washington Post in his personal capacity, said in a 10-year time-frame, there seems to be a strong future for print. He supported his argument by saying that what one tends to see is that there’s been a deceleration of print, but it seems to be levelling out again.

More importantly he shared his contrarian perspective on the distribution medium of content and said that he thinks ‘the vehicle is less important than the subject matter’. “Content is more important than the medium on which it is distributed. I care more about the news gathering process itself, and I see that the digital distribution medium presents huge opportunities because you can you can cost-effectively be a global news organisation. So, I’m excited about the digital part of the business, but you do see print stabilising,” he said.


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Five things Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in India

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