Amazon’s third Prime Day event in India is set to begin from July 15. Amazon India’s Head of Prime Akshay Sahi tells Pranav Mukul in an interview how the e-commerce company plans to launch 500 products this time that are offered by small sellers from various parts of the country. Edited excerpts:
How have you prepared this time for Prime Day?
All our selections are in, it is getting into the warehouses, we are stocked up. All the technology is set up.
When you say you are stocking up, is it based simply on past Prime Day trends or is there other intelligence you look at?
We look at all of it. We have a lot of business intelligence and machine learning that looks at what demand pattern looks like – which customers from which regions are buying what kind of stuff and making sure all these products are available for fast shipping. But the simplest thing we do is that we try and replicate everything, everywhere. Our idea is to build a logistics infrastructure nationally and we leverage everything from our own fulfillment centres, seller flexes – which is a technology that enables sellers, local sellers, etc.
Is there any special focus on small sellers this time?
We are going to launch a 1,000 new products this year. Two years ago, we started launches on Prime Day. First year we launched just 30 products and our customers loved it and brands loved it. Last year, we launched 200 of which 30-40 were from small sellers because the magic of India is that there is an amazing selection in different pockets – whether it is south for silk, northeast for their own traditional handloom, etc. We started getting these sellers and helped them launch products. This year about 500 products are from small and medium sellers. We have Pochampally Ikkat, Patola Silk, Khadi, various other handicraft. It goes beyond handicraft. This year we have a startup that will launch a smart-bulb, which is Alexa controlled.
This is the first Prime Day since the new FDI norms kicked in. Did you have to do anything differently to plan your discounts and pricing, etc?
We are a pure marketplace, and we are always fully compliant with FDI norms. Because we had already planned for this, we didn’t see any risks or difficulties in sourcing deals or selections from our sellers at this time.
Since Prime Day occurs during non-festivals season, is it able to produce a similar traction as the Diwali sales?
Prime members shop almost three times as much as non-Prime members. They shop in more categories and engage more with us. Last year, more Prime members joined in the month before Prime Day than any other part of the year.
Separately, our membership has doubled in the last 18 months. From this you can understand that it is having a great uptake.
Every year we continue to get feedback from our customers and Prime Day is a facilitator for getting traction in smaller towns and cities, who discover Prime because of this and now we have members from over 400 towns and cities. Almost everywhere that Amazon ships, there will be a Prime member.
There are some signs that show a slowdown in consumption of some consumer goods and consumer durables. Does that worry you?
All of us follow what the trends are. All our category leaders in fashion, technology are following what the consumption patterns are.
There are certain macro factors and micro factors that influence how customers consume. Our job is always to bring selection and pricing that allow us to work in those constraints. We take those trends into account but within Prime we haven’t seen as much of what you’re discussing.