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Is Amazon Becoming The J.A.R.V.I.S. Of The Average-Joe Indian?

18 May, 2017
Is Amazon Becoming The JARVIS Of The Average-Joe Indian

For the average Indian, Amazon might be just another retail site she would go to, to order a new pair of shoes. She might find Amazon’s services a little more flattering than those of other e-com sites, and the prices (at times) a little lighter on her wallet.

But when she’s ordering that shoe on the website, what she perhaps does not realize is that Amazon is not just a retail outlet, but it’s actually an empire built on a humongous network of services and products.

From Amazon Web Services, which hosts a considerable chunk of the internet, to cloud computing, to tech research and development, to new product, to a NetFlix competitor on-demand streaming platform – Amazon is most definitely a lot more than just an e-retailer.

While most of this has so far been focused on the West, but from the looks of it, Amazon might be expanding deeper into other markets – especially the Indian market – and not just by the means of retail. It has many, many things up it’s sleeves!

After much ado, Amazon finally received a clearance to operate its e-wallets in India. The global retail giant recently received a Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) license from the country’s federal bank.

This implies Amazon’s imminent entry into a market that is highly competitive, and post-demonetization, is growing by leaps and bounds.

The market currently is dominated by Paytm, which has over 200 million users. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that Paytm is backed by Alibaba, a Chinese retail giant that is colloquially referred to as China’s Amazon, and is Amazon’s biggest competition in the South-Asian markets.

Up until now, Amazon operated on the PPI licence issued to reward points management and gift card provider Qwikcilver, in which Amazon had invested USD 10 million in 2014. This dogleg approach limited all that Amazon could offer in India.

But with the new license Amazon should be able to offer more point-of-sale transactions. This could possible change how Amazon has been approaching the e-wallet up until now, where the e-wallet has only been a functionary element, to facilitate the transactions on their retail network. With this new license, they could expand into the e-wallet market in a manner of making e-wallet an integral part of their retail network, and not just an element to add functionality.

We are pleased to receive our PPI licence from the RBI“, said Sriram Jagannathan, Vice President of Payments at Amazon India. “Our focus is providing customers a convenient and trusted cashless payments experience. RBI is in the process of finalizing the guidelines for PPIs“.

Amongst other significant competition that Amazon can expect will be PhonePe, the e-wallet of Amazon’s biggest Indian competitor Flipkart. Currently, PhonePe accounts for 5% of Flipkart’s transactions. MobiKwik, Oxigen, PayUMoney, M-Pesa, FreeCharge etc., are amongst other popular wallets in the country that Amazon can expect a competition from.

Lately, Amazon has been working with nit and grit to expand into the Indian market, not just by the modes of increased retail, or widened reach, but by the means of different products and services.

One of the products that Amazon has quite been focused on is the Prime Video, its on-demand video streaming platform.

The Indian market has finally been opening up to the idea of TV via the internet. It has not been too long from the time when we used to have dial-up connections, the ones that were so slow that watching a video on it was more like a dream, and it involved endless buffering.
In the last few years, the presence of faster internet has helped get people get used to the idea of streaming things over the internet. And Amazon clearly wants to cash in on the opportunity.

Just last year, NetFlix, the on-demand streaming giant entered the Indian market, and was lapped up by the hitherto-deprived Indian citizenry. This was after HotStar, backed by the hyper-popular Star Network made a place for on-demand streaming in the everyday life of an Indian user. Hotstar basically did so on the back of sports, mostly cricket, until the younger generation in the country discovered that it was easier to watch various seasons of their favorite shows on the app instead of downloading them off of pirating platforms.

Coming back to Amazon – well, the Internet giant seems to finally have its catalog ready for the Indian user.

They’ve been working to bring uniquely-Indian content, for the picky Indian viewer. To be able to do that, they have been working on partnerships within the Indian entertainment industry. Recent notable ones include the exclusive online rights for Kabir Khan’s upcoming title The Forgotten Army, which Amazon will be marketing as an original.
Amazon has also partnered with various stand-up comedians in the country for the rights to stream their content.
This is in addition to the companies having signed deals with Lionsgate and BBC to acquire international titles for the Indian audience.

It partnered with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan for exclusive access to all of his Red Chillies Entertainment’s titles last year. The company is also reportedly in talks with Aamir Khan for titles from his production house.

Others include a deal with Paramount for streaming rights of recently released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Star Trek Beyond, and 10 Cloverfield Lane, in addition to  titles from Paramount-owned Transformers, Indiana Jones, Mission: Impossible, Madagascar, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda franchises.

India has one of the richest and most vibrant entertainment industries in the world – Amazon is energized by the talent and the passion of India’s film industry and is excited to be making multiple Indian original shows already, with more to come“, said Roy Price, Vice President and Head of Amazon Studios.

Now that Amazon seems to have the content – national and international – sorted, it is the mode of delivery that they are expanding on.
Amazon also recently launched its Fire TV Stick in India at INR 3,999, with additional discounts for already existing Prime subscribers. This is Amazon’s Chromecast rival, which enables you to watch Amazon Prime content not just on your laptop, or mobile, or tablet, but stream it onto your television, and watch it like the good old days – leaning back on the sofa.

The Fire TV Stick also offers a range of additional services, which include built-in apps such as EROS TV, Netflix, Gaana on the device, which are other popular on-demand streaming platforms in the country.
The device will also reportedly support voice-enabled commands. Amazon says that it will understand Hindi dialect and accent swiftly, which is something that could prove instrumental in giving them an edge over the rivals.

The company, in the past, has said that they intend to launch the Fire TV, the full-fledged TV box and other services to India, soon. But they might not be coming as soon as we might like! The Fire TV Stick is certainly an indication to cement Amazon’s intentions in the regard though.

In other news of the company expanding into new forums on an international platform, the company recently acquired a patent for an on-demand clothing manufacturing warehouse. The patent speaks to a new order of clothing retail altogether, where a customer’s clothes will be made only after he has placed the order. This would enable the retailers to offer a lot more customization on their apparel, as well as develop newer options in far more dynamic a manner, depending upon the market demand.

The patent is for a computerized system, which would include textile printers, cutters and an assembly line. It would also enable cameras designed to snap images of garments, which would provide feedback on alterations needed in subsequent items. This would help to increase efficiency since this would enable the goods to be manufactured in batches based on factors such as the customer shipping address, and further customizations.

Once various textile products are printed, cut and assembled according to the orders, they can be processed through a quality check, photographed for placement in an electronic commerce system, shipped to customers and/or stored in a materials handling facility for order fulfilment”, the patent reads. “By aggregating orders from various geographic locations and coordinating apparel assembly processes on a large scale, the embodiments provide new ways to increase efficiency in apparel manufacturing”.

Amazon had filed for the patent back in 2015. We are not sure of what exactly are they planning to do with this patent in the immediate future, but it clearly is an indication that the e-commerce giant has its sights set on being a giant player in the clothing industry.
Amazon already has quite a clothing and apparel selection that it retails for other brands, in addition to about eight of its own brands, making everything from kids clothes to women’s dresses to dress shirts for men.

What’s more interesting is that such technology could also have applications in footwear, bedding, curtains, towels, and others including but not limited to paper, plastic, leather, rubber and other materials.
Not too long ago, Nike, in the U.S., had running what they called NikeiD, a program to customize sports shoes for their buyers. It allowed the customers to choose shoe type, colours, and the likes, and it took Nike 3 to 5 weeks to deliver on the shoes. With a patent of the kind that Amazon has acquired a process of this kind can be made speedier, and more diverse, making more options available for the end customer.

With innovation in fields as diverse as these, it looks like Amazon is concentrating on making itself a part of the user’s everyday life, in more than one manner. Amazon is trying to be the source for all that one can use in a day, from shopping for a wide range of products, to clothing, to groceries, to using the Amazon e-wallet, to coming back home at the end of the day and having your entertainment needs met by Amazon itself, and all of that possible on a device made by Amazon.