Amazon kicks off Smart Stores retail digitization initiative in India

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Amazon announced it officially launched its Smart Store program in the Indian market on Thursday. The conglomerate piloted the initiative two months ago. It allows merchants to establish digital storefronts, offer incentives, and accept contactless payments.

TechCrunch reports over 10,000 mom-and-pop and corporate retailers are utilizing the e-commerce company’s platform.

Amazon’s Smart Store Program

Amazon’s Indian e-commerce/brick-and-mortar system offers benefits to merchants and consumers through digitization.

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The initiative gives store owners the ability to create digital storefronts that showcase all their offerings. That feature is useful because it allows merchants to precisely track inventory while letting shoppers know individual stores’ product availability. Moreover, the system enables sellers to accept contactless payments and provide discount incentives through the Amazon Pay service.

For consumers, the Smart Store project makes buying things in person at a host of local shops safer and easier. When visiting a mart, users can scan a QR code that links to product reviews and possible markdowns. As such, people can adhere to social distancing recommendations throughout the browsing and checkout process.

In a press release, Amazon stated its connected retail initiative had increased foot traffic and sales during its trial phase. As the firm’s platform offers Pay Later service, shoppers are incentivized to increase their in-store cart size. Currently, the Seattle based concern’s Smart Store system does not charge merchants or customers to process their transactions.

Since India has more than 30 million neighborhood stores, Amazon has entered a sizable addressable market.

Digitally Integrated Competition for Indian Consumers

Smart Stores is not Amazon’s only current effort designed to break into India’s physical retail sector.

Back in January, the conglomerate forged a partnership with Future Retail, the country’s second-largest brick-and-mortar sales chain. The agreement made the e-commerce giant the local brand’s authorized online sales channel and let the company sell its goods on Prime Now. The pact also gave consumers the ability to order and receive groceries, household goods, clothing, and appliances in as little as two hours.

Amazon is the only Big Tech giant looking to monetize India’s in-person store sector this year.

In April, Facebook bought 9.99 percent of Jio Platforms, a large regional digital services provider. In tandem with the sale, the two corporations announced they would integrate the WhatsApp messenger service with the JioMart online portal. Consequently, the social network’s 400 million Indian users can now place grocery pickup orders at participating local shops.

Google has also taken an interest in the South Asian nation’s retail market.

Earlier this month, the search engine revealed it is working to provide Indian merchants with access to credit. The company had previously offered local small and micro-businesses tools to create online storefronts with its Google My Business program. The firm also supplies 3 million of the republic’s storeowners with digital transaction processing through its Pay app.

Despite their vast resources, Silicon Valley titans like Amazon have struggled to gain a foothold in the Indian market. The country’s regulators have made laws designed to prevent foreign brands from creating regional monopolies. But by working to empower the nation’s merchants while also competing against one another, Big Tech may have found a way to break into what is quickly becoming the world’s third-largest consumer market.

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