Soon, your kirana shopkeeper can help you shop online with Amazon Easy

Amazon logo on the facade of one of their office buildings located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco bay area | Photo: Shutterstock
Amazon Easy, an India-specific innovation where customers not so familiar or comfortable with doing online shopping on their own are assisted in doing so by a trained storekeeper in their neighbourhood, has been formally rolled out in five districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by the American e-commerce company on Tuesday. 

Amazon has been working on the store partner model to enable online shopping in small towns and cities since 2015 under the code name Project Udaan. Now, it is planning to bring all the existing 14,000 partner stores across 21 states under the brand Amazon Easy by the middle of next year. 

"This is in a way getting ready for the next wave of online customers who are going to be very different from the present 100 million online customers in India," Kishore Thota, director (customer experience and marketing) at Amazon India, said, while announcing the launch of Amazon Easy at 200-plus stores in two Telugu speaking states.

The assisted online shopping service is provided at the partner stores using a browser and large screen facilities in exchange for a percentage of commission -- which ranges from one per cent to as much as 15 per cent, depending on the product categories, from Amazon, while it is a free service for the customers.   

According to Kishore, Amazon Easy is part of an ongoing effort to break down various transaction barriers, right from a general hesitation seen in a first-time online shopper to other barriers involving trust gap, internet access, language, digital payments, etc, just as the company had used facilities like cash-on-delivery to bring customers on board in the past.    

Amazon India expects as many as 200 million new customers to join the online bandwagon in India in the next 2-3 years, driven by 4G connectivity and cheaper smartphones. Most of these customers are expected to come from a non-English background.  

Kishore said the partner stores will also be doubled up as delivery points in addition to the door delivery service. For some stores, the company has provided browsing and other support systems. However, the exclusive stores have been set up for Amazon Easy by entrepreneurs with their own investment, involving computers, large-screen televisions, and samples or dummies of products on display, besides the store space.  

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"On some special occasions, people thronged some of these stores and even formed queues waiting outside for their turn to do an online purchase. Mobile phones top the sales, while electronic goods are among the popular purchases at these stores," Kishore said, while declining to reveal the contribution of these off-line stores to the overall sales of Amazon in India.   

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