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2014-11-11

SMEs should embrace digital platform for growth: Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon.com

Bezos shares his views on how Amazon is creating a favourable ecosystem for Indian SMEs through its digital platform.

With more than $1-billion sale in just one year of operations, Amazon India surpassed the boss, Jeff Bezos’s expectations. Now with $2 billion commitment, gung ho Bezos has made his intentions clear of taking the customer experience in India to the next level.

Excited Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com, shares how Amazon is creating a favourable ecosystem for Indian SMEs through its digital platform and why he doesn’t like to talk about competitors, in an interactive session.

How would you define Amazon India’s success?

Amazon India is doing shockingly well. A year ago, I was just optimistic about its success, but now I actually have data that shows that it is working well. I do not run Amazon India from Seattle, it is fully run by the local team. We have followed a unique approach in India as there are a lot of SMEs in India. Our team has invented different ways to make it easy for SMEs to connect with the digital economy.

Share few such inventions of Amazon India.

There are two basic ways by which SMEs can access our platform. First is “Fulfilment by Amazon” where SMEs can put a portion of their inventory in our fulfilment centres. Its advantage is that we take on the task of doing all transportation, logistics and getting the product to end customers. Second is “Amazon Easy Ship” where SMEs can keep the inventory in their own stores and we pick the inventory from there and deliver it to customers. This is the invention of our local India team and has been very successful. We are working on helping SMEs with distribution across India. However, our vision is to help them to reach any customer anywhere in the world.

How are you helping SMEs transform themselves?

We have a big team who trains SMEs in various aspects like building catalogue listings and using tools. This can improve their sales in a big manner. Moreover with right logistics and systems, Indian SMEs can reach millions of customers in the US, France, Germany, etc. We have been working on that kind of global fulfilment programme over a number of years.

Are you customer- or competitor-focused?

I don’t like talking about competitors. I think many companies spend too much time focusing on their competitors when they should be obsessing about their customers. In India, we have two sets of customers. First are the consumers whom we have to deliver products and others are SMEs (sellers).

How your leadership skills have evolved over the years?

When I started it was just me and when there were 10 people, we started shipping packages. As a small entrepreneur that time, I used to take all packages to the post office every night. However, as the business grew very quickly, I had to change. In the beginning as a leader, I had to keep track of everything and now as we are a very big company, my job is primarily to be the custodian of values and principles of the company and to make sure that we live by them.

How did you recover from your failures?

Failure is part and parcel of invention. We had failures of all scales – big and small. Many years ago, we tried to build a web search engine and only seven people stood up to use it. Then we launched an auction site that was a huge failure. After that we did something similar called zShops and failed again. We again started something on the similar lines called Marketplace that became a huge success. So it was like three generations of failure before Marketplace worked so well for us.

What is your advice for SMEs?

Keep an eye on future and get hooked up with the digital platform. If you do not know anything about technology and the Internet, you might be intimidated by it. So, I would say not to get intimidated by them. Operations, which an SME normally does every day, are 10 times harder than getting on our platform and reaching millions of new customers. 

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