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E-commerce giant Amazon has launched an India first initiative ‘Local shops on Amazon’, a program to enable small shops and retailers to sell their products online.

The program looks to enroll local shops and retailers of any size across categories and help them deliver to customers using Amazon’s last-mile reach, said Gopal Pillai, Amazon India’s vice president of seller services, in a blog post

Additionally, it will allow the shopkeepers to choose the areas where they can deliver on the same day or the next day, with pin-code level granularity. Local shops are required to update the delivery details to the customers and Amazon using the newly launched ‘Amazon Delivery App’.

The launch is after a six-month pilot with 5,000-plus local shops and retailers from across 100 tier-1 and tier-2 cities. The company would also invest Rs 10 crore to immediately expand its pilot to onboard and train any retailer or shopkeeper willing to be part of the program. 

For now, the program is for essential products and the real expansion will take place once the lockdown restrictions get relaxed, the blog post said. 

It’s not the first time Amazon has initiated work with neighborhood or kirana stores. In January, the company had announced the “I have space” program where it had partnered with neighborhood stores across India to use them to store and deliver goods. 

This development comes at a time when India’s economy is facing serious challenges given the COVID-19 outbreak. It has been particularly distressing for small shops and retailers who stare at an uncertain future due to the lockdown imposed to counter the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, Facebook had invested $5.7 billion in Jio to build on the reach of Jio in India’s hinterland and its digital might. And in a separate commercial deal, Jio platforms, Reliance Retail, and WhatsApp have also entered into a commercial partnership under which Reliance Retail’s new commerce business would be accelerated on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp.

With the entry of Amazon and the eventual availability of JioMart stores on WhatsApp, the last mile grocery delivery business will be fought and won by onboarding the many local kirana stores. The pandemic may have just triggered a booming business model for the many small shops and retailers across India. 


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