Amazon is setting its sights on India’s rural consumers, building from the ground up a logistics network so that it can serve the 800 million people, many of whom don’t have much in terms of access to retailers.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, what’s more, many of India’s rural population are new to eCommerce and don’t have credit cards, smartphones, or even delivery addresses. Amazon is hoping to address some of the problems people living in rural areas of India face when it comes to shopping. The paper highlighted one resident of Dhowachala, which is located in the northeastern state of Assam in India. The resident has few options to purchase new things because it takes hours to get to the closest village of 1,000. Amulya Bhuyan, a 37-year-old teacher, made his first Amazon purchase in 2016 and has purchased more since then. “Before I didn’t even know where to buy these things, and now they arrive on my doorstep,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
The move on the part of Amazon to go after rural India makes sense. According to the WSJ, more than $400 billion in retail sales came from the area in 2018. But Amazon isn’t the only one eyeing the market. The paper pointed to Walmart and startups in the region who are trying to go after consumers who are just starting to use online shopping. Amazon expects eCommerce in India to triple in the coming years, with most of the growth coming from rural areas. Amazon, noted the report, said more than 80 percent of new customers are coming from outside of the major cities in India.
To reach the rural residents of India, Amazon has changed its app so that it will work with cheap smartphones and less-than-consistent Internet connection via cellular networks. It also added Indian language descriptions of products and more videos for those who can’t read. It also opened Amazon stores that help people through ordering online and hooked up with local distributors to deliver packages. Delivery personnel often use bicycles to deliver products and accept cash or digital payment upon delivery. Amazon is tapping small stores to act as package depots for its Indian distribution network and is using other small retailers to teach consumers how to shop on Amazon, noted the report.