Amazon.com Inc’s Indian arm will soon add small local shops as sellers on its platform as a way to provide them broader online exposure and offer consumers a greater selection of merchandise, the company said on Thursday.
The launch coincides with a national lockdown as millions shelter in their homes to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The program is called “Local Shops on Amazon” and was piloted for six months with more than 5,000 local shops and retailers from over 100 cities across India taking part, the company said.
The pilot included places that sell furniture, apparel, beauty, sports, and home improvement products, books, and toys.
Amazon said it would spend up to 100 million rupees ($1.3 million) to expand the pilot to on-board and train shopkeepers and retailers, calling the local shops program a “first for Amazon anywhere in the world”.
The company in January announced a $1 billion investment to bring more than 10 million small businesses online in India by 2025.
The move is also coming a day after Facebook said it planned to buy a nearly 10% stake in conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd’s digital arm, as it looks to roll out services for India’s grocers and small businesses.
The broader push into small neighbourhood mom-and-pop stores in India will pit Amazon against Walmart’s Flipkart and BigBasket, backed by China’s Alibaba.