Amazon, Flipkart fan out to sign up small merchants
The online marketplace is coming to the offline marketplace. Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of the world's largest online retailer, and Flipkart Ltd, India's largest online retailer, are sending their vans to areas such as Karol Bagh and Azad Mandi in Delhi or Indiranagar and Commercial Street in Bangalore-places that have many small businesses- to sign up merchants for their platform.
Under the pan-India initiatives called Amazon Tatkal and Spotlist ( for Flipkart), their representatives will engage with local businesses, register merchants on the spot, prepare product catalogues and give them basic training to operate on its platform.
"Our conversation with hundreds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reveals that there is a high level of interest among them to get online and start selling, but they are unable to overcome perception of the process being time consuming, tedious and complex. As a result, many interested sellers tend to put off onboarding tasks. This initiative will help sellers overcome these constraints, get them on board and start selling on the Amazon platform," said Gopal Pillai, director and general manager, seller services, Amazon India.
He, however, declined to share any specific target in terms of number of merchants the company plans to rope in. Amazon has done pilots in two cities, Ambala and Jalandhar and was able to rope in hundreds of sellers on board. It is subsequently moving to other cities. The programme will also introduce sellers to the specialised seller services offered by Amazon, including Easy Ship, Fulfilment by Amazon as well as Global Selling.
Flipkart on the other hand launched the service in November last year across five key metros-Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Hyderabad. So far, over 1,000 sellers across categories have availed of this service and close to 10,000 products have been catalogued, claimed the company. Flipkart in addition to enabling sellers is extending the service to freelance wedding and party photographers who can also register with Flipkart as cataloguing partners.
Last year, rival Snapdeal too launched a segment exclusively for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals called Shopo. It is a commission-free shopping app offering products from merchants who want to sell stuff online on small-scale and unorganized retail stores.
Currently, a few other start-ups such as like Kraftly, Shopsity and Zakoopi also offer services ranging from either just product discovery to transactions for offline stores. Earlier this month, Amazon launched a seller lending programme in India to help small and medium businesses on Amazon.in get easy access to working capital. The initiative was launched in partnership with Mumbai- based non- banking financial company, Capital First Ltd.
The company plans to provide secured and unsecured loans to sellers from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.2 crore at competitive interest rates. Amazon currently has 65,000 merchants on board with over 4.5 crore products. Flipkart claims to have over 80,000 merchants offering more than 30 million products across over 70 categories, including books, media, consumer electronics, furniture and lifestyle.