Amazon has finally launched its flagship Marketplace business in India, after the site quietly went live in the country, although it is only selling books and DVDs at this point.
India is the tenth country where Amazon Marketplace is available. The service is a central point from which independent retailers can sell a range of goods and products from third parties using the ‘marketplace’ model that is also adopted by Japanese retailer Rakuten, among others.
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The launch has been a silent one since there is no announcement on Amazon’s media center, as you’d expect from a laucnh into such a significant country. The press release section on Amazon India site says “Press Release [sic] will be published soon”, but there are a series of infographic-come-press-releases which confirm the launch.
An excerpt of one is below:
Restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) have thus far prevented Amazon from selling direct to consumers in the country, but, by hosting a site where third parties do the selling, the issue is sidestepped.
The company launched Junglee, a site that aggregates deals from Web retailers and sent visitors to other sites to make purchases, last year as an experiment to test the water in India while rules dictating that foreign firms cannot sell goods online keep its full service out. Authorities in India did relax FDI regulations for physical retailers — rules now allow overseas firms to hold a 51 percent stake in multi-brand retailers, or a full 100 percent share of single-brand retailers — but there’s been no change in the prohibition for overseas direct-to-consumer retail sites.
The US company has been pressing officials to allow it to launch its full Amazon.com service in India. Amazon Global Vice-President Paul E. Misener met with country’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma in February to put the issue on the agenda. Misener said the meeting covered “all kinds of issues” and that the firm is “trying to find a better way to serve our Indian customers, both sellers and buyers”.
To date, local firm Flipkart has dominated the e-commerce market in India, but the country potential has also caught the eye of another global giant: eBay. The US firm invested in Flipkart rival Snapdeal earlier this year. That deal was confirmed this week, as eBay revealed it has also partnered three-year-old Snapdeal for sales.
The timing of that news, a day before Amazon.in’s launch, is almost certainly related. The new service will allow Amazon to learn more about Indian e-commerce market and consumer habits before the FDI restrictions are (inevitably) lifted for Web-based retailers.
We reached out to Amazon for more details, and will relay any responses that we’re given.
More excerpts of infographics confirming the launch are below:
Headline image via soumit/Flickr