Amazon India’s Country Manager (India Consumer Business), Manish Tiwary, is often asked about his super app strategy. With competitors, Reliance and more recently the Tata Group offering a variety of services ranging from retail, hospitality, entertainment, and telecom on a single platform, one wonders if Amazon qualifies to be called a super app.

"On Amazon, you can shop, watch Mini TV (an ad-supported platform), you can buy tickets, play games, and be part of influencer programs. I don’t know what a super app per se is, but we are trying to offer multiple experiences through the Amazon app and we have been quite successful." Tiwary who recently took over the reign as head of the India business from Amit Agarwal (who has moved to a global role), prefers Amazon to be recognised as a marketplace that creates a range of services, which is not necessarily only digital.

"The reality is we are among the biggest warehousing and transport companies. A large part of our business is the physical aspect of fulfillment. We are like a ball that can go into various places with a certain trust that Amazon gets. We have Amazon Home Services which does installations. We are creating a marketplace of services and we are going to keep on adding new categories and services as we go along, depending on the consumer demand," explains Tiwary.

He believes that e-commerce is barely 3%-4% of organized retail and a lot needs to be done to grow the market. "One needs to come up with a lot of innovations to scale this up." While the retailer has already been experimenting with voice shopping, during the festival season this year it is also going to introduce live shopping. "We are going to have 600 live shows this Diwali. Influencers will talk about products and one can shop at the same time."

The company is also working on its food retail and its grocery retail business. "Food delivery is more of an experiment that we are planning in Bangalore. We have to learn and if we find a sustainable model which delights the customer, we will go for a national roll out. We are going to observe it for a while," says Tiwary.

With Big Basket (recently acquired by the Tata Group) capturing the metros, Amazon is focusing more on tier 2-3 cities in India with its grocery retail business. More than 50% of consumers of Amazon Fresh have come from non-metros and tier 2-3 towns in the past year. Over 80% of consumers for Amazon Consumables also came from these markets. Since food retail is allowed 100% FDI, Amazon Retail India, the food retail arm of Amazon India is also focusing on building its private brand strategy. "We have brands such as Vedika which are doing extremely well in staples. The Centre of the plate for the Indian consumer is unbranded and branding gives confidence to our consumers of quality. We are at the beginning of our grocery journey and there is a lot of improvement to be done."

Tiwary’s other big area of focus is fashion. Amazon doesn’t have a top-of-the-mind recall when it comes to fashion. Myntra (now part of Walmart) has a definitive edge in online fashion, and to add to that there are new players such as Nykaa Fashion which have also entered the fray. "But online fashion is still in its infancy with less than 1% penetration," argues Tiwary." "It is a more challenging category, and we are still working on making the customer experience better."

Coming back to the discussion around super-apps, Tiwary reiterates that the mission is to solve for the Indian market and not so much to be seen as a super app. "One of the mandates that have been given to the India team right from the start is to have a Bharat-first view in everything that we do. In no locale Amazon used to offer cash on delivery, similarly, innovations like Seller Flex (where sellers don’t have to send Amazon their stock, they can keep it in their warehouse and Amazon picks it up from them), is focused on getting it right for Bharat first. Every day, I tell myself that we are still on day zero, we are still a small company."

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