Amazon is escalating its push into India with a new “Smart Stores” initiative aimed at spreading its reach into the country’s massive retail market.
The online retail giant officially announced the initiative on its Indian blog on Thursday (June 25), noting it has already begun doling out QR codes to everyone from village shops to big retail chains like Big Bazaar and More Supermarkets.
Shoppers can stand outside the store, scan the QR code, and from there take a gander through a virtual lineup of what’s for sale inside. If something piques their interest, they can purchase the items they have selected using Amazon Pay.
The feature is being touted as a way to shop safely during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as providing an alternative to fighting through a crush of shoppers inside a shop or store on a busy day, with Amazon saying it has already signed up thousands of businesses who took part in an initial pilot program.
“Amazon Pay is already accepted at millions of local shops, we are trying to make customers’ buying experience at local shops even more convenient and safe through Smart Stores,” Mahendra Nerurkar, CEO of Amazon Pay, said in the blog post. “Further, through EMIs, bank offers and rewards, we seek to make these purchases more affordable and rewarding for customers, and help increase sales for merchants.”
Customers who decide to buy from a particular store after a bit of physical and virtual window shopping can choose a number of payment methods, including “UPI, balance, or credit or debit cards,” Amazon said. Shoppers can also, on the spot, convert the transaction into an EMI and pay for the particular item or product in installments, rather than all at once, the company said.
The new program comes on the heels of Amazon’s announcement in January it would spend $1 billion helping digitalize small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in India.
Amazon has spent several billion dollars over the past few years on Indian initiatives as it battles for a share of the country’s growing eCommerce market with Facebook and other players.