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India must grab digital opportunity, says Amazon India's Amit Agarwal

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the resilience and optimism of Indian entrepreneurs, with more small businesses and shops embracing technology and online to reinvent themselves

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Amazon India | Amit Agarwal

Peerzada Abrar  |  Bengaluru 

Amit Agarwal
Amazon India chief Amit Agarwal said that the Covid-19 crisis has particularly highlighted the resilience and optimism of the Indian entrepreneurs

chief on Friday said that technology and mobile internet have transformed life globally and India is no different, and these are likely to have a profound impact on the country. This would be a scalable lever to drive inclusion and equity for society, he said.

"We are at an inflection point, and are likely to look back at mobile internet, and e-commerce in particular, as a social and economic leveller that transformed lives and livelihoods in India," said Amit Agarwal, global senior vice president and country head, Amazon India, at the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020, which was held virtually.

He said Indian e-commerce is early in its evolution, with barely 3 per cent of total retail consumption, but is already ushering in faster digitisation across the consumption value chain. He said it is blurring the line between online and offline, between local and global. This includes expanding access and opportunities for customers across the country, like digital payments bringing convenience and trust. Also, technology and machine learning is enabling access to credit.

Agarwal said that the Covid-19 crisis has particularly highlighted the resilience and optimism of the Indian entrepreneurs. More small businesses and shops are embracing technology and online to reinvent themselves. This takes Make in India global at scale and creates digitally-enabled robust businesses. This will eventually power millions of livelihoods and help realise the vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

He said tens of thousands of neighbourhood stores across the country are expanding their influence as pickup points, logistics partners, and experience centres, for e-commerce, and truly becoming digital entrepreneurs.

Agarwal said India must grab the digital opportunity with both hands, by focusing on enabling policies that accelerate this shift. He said it is important to ensure a stable and predictable policy framework that attracts long-term investment, and proactively remove paper-cuts impacting ease of doing business online.

Simultaneously, there is a need to prepare a uniquely large young demographic for the world ahead, by enabling universal internet access and enabling digital literacy. He said the focus on science and engineering and embracing machine learning and artificial intelligence as unique levers to drive transformation at scale.

Agarwal said Amazon, feels fortunate and humbled to be able to play a part as a catalyst in digitally transforming lives and livelihoods, and as a partner to enable India unleash its potential in the 21st century.

The company has pledged to digitise 10 million small and medium businesses (SMBs), enable $10 billion in exports, and create an incremental 1 million digital jobs by 2025.

has more than 700,000 small and medium businesses on its marketplace. It has an ecosystem of about 1 million artisans, weavers and women entrepreneurs and millions of customers shop on the platform. Since the pandemic, the new sign-ups have gone up by 60 per cent on the marketplace. The firm has launched platforms and services allowing local shops to establish a digital presence on Amazon to serve customers in their locality online.

The company received orders from 99.3 per cent of India’s pin-codes during its flagship Great Indian Festival sale. Agarwal said it is inspiring to hear stories of toys from Channapatna or the traditional sarees from Pochampally selling to customers in Leh in the Himalayan region and Majuli islands in Assam.

Agarwal also said that Indian talent today touches almost every part of Amazon’s global offerings. About 95 per cent of Amazon India's corporate team is working from home. He welcomed the government's move to remove restrictions for other service providers such as in the BPO and IT sectors, to work from anywhere.

Amazon employs almost 100,000 workers in India directly, including tens of thousands of employees in the many global technology teams based out Bengaluru. Agarwal said Bengaluru is at the heart of technology and innovation. He said Amazon has been privileged to work with some of the brightest and most talented IT professionals.

Amazon’s India story is also rooted in Bengaluru. Agarwal came here in 2004 and started with a handful of software development engineers. He recalled the team was writing code huddled in a tiny office space in Bengaluru. “Imagine a typical scrappy Bengaluru start-up, looking to make a difference,” said Agarwal. “ The company drew on the talent in this city," he said.

Highlights:

Technology and mobile internet have transformed daily life globally and India.

This would be a scalable lever to drive inclusion and equity for society.

Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the resilience and optimism of the Indian entrepreneurs.

More small businesses and shops are embracing technology and online to reinvent themselves.

India must grab the digital opportunity with both hands, by focusing on enabling policies that accelerate this shift.

It is important to ensure a stable and predictable policy framework that attracts long-term investment

It should also proactively remove paper-cuts impacting ease of doing business online.

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First Published: Fri, November 20 2020. 18:38 IST
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