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Netting in new buyers.
OUTREACH PLAN

This Diwali, Amazon readies its fireworks to woo small-town India

By Sangeeta Tanwar

Small towns and cities will be a top priority for e-commerce giant Amazon India as it launches its annual flagship sale, the Great Indian Festival, on Sept. 29.

The strategy is to tap into the huge base of first-time online shoppers in India going forward, and the week-long sale will set the tone for that. “Amazon’s Great Indian Festival sale is important for us to bring the next 100 million customers online, many of them from tier-3 or even tier-4 towns,” said Manish Tiwary, vice-president for category management at Amazon India.

With deepening internet penetration and increased adoption of smartphones, the growth in the number of online shoppers in tier-II and tier-III Indian cities and rural areas is expected to outpace the metros, according to Redseer. About 70% of e-tailing gross merchandise volume (GMV) will come from tier-2 and rural areas by 2023, up from 40% currently, according to the Bengaluru-based management consultancy firm.

Looking beyond metros

In an attempt to reach out to first-time online shoppers in small towns, Amazon India has flagged off a “house-on-wheels roadshow,” where it is sending trucks displaying over 600 products for customers to touch and feel. These trucks display mirror work from Gujarat, Bamboo décor from Assam, Tanjore Paintings from Tamil Nadu, and traditional weaves such as Khadi, Ikkat, Pochampalli, and Phulkari, among other things. “With three special trucks, #AmazonFestiveYatra will visit 13 cities covering over 6,000 kilometers throughout the festive season, providing a great opportunity for Amazon customers and sellers to engage, and share insights and opinions,” the company said in a blogpost.

The trucks will travel through New Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Agra, Chennai, Indore, Kolkata, Kochi, Mathura, Mumbai, and Visakhapatnam.

Experts see value in Amazon India’s outreach plan.

“The best way to get a consumer to try is by creating awareness either through advertising (online and offline) and bringing the service to the customer,” said Rini Dutta, founder of Centric Brand Advisors, a Bengaluru-based firm specialising in brand positioning and sales strategy. “Most consumers are already aware of Amazon through advertising. By taking the curated offerings to them, the company is going a step ahead. It will reassure buyers that Amazon India is now ready to deliver in non-metro locations.”

In the past few years, Amazon has taken several initiatives to target tier-2  and tier-3 markets in India, including the launch of a Hindi version of its website last year. But experts believe that it needs to do much more if it wants to get a strong foothold beyond metros in India.

“E-commerce players have to get down to ‘teaching’ the customers how to shop online and handhold them into the buying exercise through experience centres, city representatives and their initiatives. Even the content they develop must be in regional languages, preferably video format because that’s how this market consumes content,” said Swati Nathani, co-founder of Mumbai-based brand and digital marketing firm Team Pumpkin. “Amazon could also look into recruiting local influencers, who can lead other people into buying things online.”

For this year’s Great Indian Festival sale, Amazon India has partnered with over 500,000 sellers. It also has more than 50 fulfillment centres across 13 states offering a storage capacity of over 20 million cubic feet as it widens its distribution network in smaller cities.