Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of any economy and in a country like India where there are more than 60-70 million SMBs, they play an extremely important role, contributing to a significant portion of consumer consumption spending as well as boosting retail GDP. SMBs are also the fiercest critics of online retail, with brick-and-mortar retailers accusing e-commerce giants of violating Indian law with deep discounts and discriminating against them by promoting big companies.
In what can only be seen as a goodwill gesture, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos last month said his company will invest US $1 billion to bring small businesses online in India. Amazon has had a long-standing relationship with SMBs in India, with the company claiming that in the six years that it has been in the country, the number of SMBs on-board has gone from just 100 to over 5.5 lakh.
“Amazon has more than 60,000 manufacturer and reseller SMBs exporting to 12 different marketplaces around the world. We also enable more than 8 lakh artisans and weavers through our Amazon Karigar program and 2.5 lakh women entrepreneurs through the Saheli program,” explains Gopal Pillai, Vice President, Amazon India Marketplace.
“We are aiming to bring 1 crore SMBs online with us by 2025 and we will generate US$ 10 billion in cumulative sales through the exports program,” he adds.Further to its plans of strengthening micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India with its US$1 billion investment, Amazon announced plans to digitally enable MSMEs and traders across India, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops, and brands. As part of this effort, Amazon will establish 100 Digital Haats in cities and villages throughout the country to help businesses integrate into the digital economy. The Digital Haats will provide services like e-commerce onboarding, imaging and cataloguing, warehouse space, logistics, digital marketing, and compliance. These haats will be in local neighbourhoods and available to MSMEs irrespective of their association with Amazon.
To support local neighbourhood shops and kiranas, Amazon will be expanding the Amazon Easy and I Have Space programs to provide additional income opportunities. Through Amazon Easy, kirana stores will be able to set up kiosks to provide assistance to their customers in choosing the right product, placing an order on Amazon and earning commission on the sales. Through I Have Space, local stores can expand their income by using their shops as mini-delivery centres and delivering products ordered on Amazon in their neighbourhood.