Amazon Fresh has announced its expansion in over 60 cities and is planning to continue expanding Fresh in a phased manner across India. It will allow the company to offer fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and chilled products like dairy and meats coupled with other grocery items. In an interview with news18.com, Amazon Fresh Director Srikant Sree Ram talks about the company’s journey in India. Edited Excerpts
What enabled the expansion of Amazon Fresh’s footprint in India?
We should start with consumer obsession, features we launched till now, how we are making it convenient for our consumers and hence we have now expanded to over 60 cities. This year has been exciting for us as we have doubled and expanded Amazon Fresh in over 60 cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Mysore, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Ongole, Trivandrum, Kochi, Hubli, Durgapur and many more.
We have also introduced offers, buy more save more, etc., to offer consumers the right value for their everyday essentials. Throughout the year, during our various consumer events such as Prime Day and Great Indian Festival, we saw grocery as one of the most shopped categories and during Diwali (Great Indian Festival 2022) our orders grew by almost 30 per cent. Customers on Amazon Fresh preferred shopping for cooking essentials, fresh fruits and vegetables, snacks and desserts, dairy products, and bakery items.
What are the latest buying trends among consumers, both metro cities and non-metro cities?
The online grocery retail market is witnessing a rapid growth rate in the Indian metropolitans and other emerging smart cities. While semi-urban areas and emerging cities are expected to drive the next wave of value growth owing to the rapid rate of urbanization, rural demand is likely to continue to drive volume growth.
We have observed that in the post-Covid era, customers continue to favour and lean heavily on e-commerce and e-grocery to fulfil their daily needs. We are observing that consumers are moving towards purchasing more organic and clean-label products across geographies.
The metros have been seeing a rise in demand for pet food, hair care & styling products, makeup and baby care products like diapers. Consumers are also moving towards occasion-based and seasonal purchases, esp. for products like snacks & beverages, baking supplies, pasta, cereals etc. So, we have launched multiple thematic stores and events like mango fiesta, summer essentials store, snack & stream store etc. and will continue to deliver value across our entire selection, and high-quality groceries.
What is your take on the growth of quick commerce in India?
We are customer obsessed and listen to deep customer insights and research that indicate consumers prefer quality products, fresh fruits & vegetables, and convenience in the delivery slot as per their preferred timeslot. One of the recent pan-India studies released by Local Circles reveals that over 50 per cent of consumers pre-plan their online grocery purchase and prefer a delivery slot as per their convenience.
While we do not neglect the fact that there is a customer cohort that indulges in quick commerce, these survey results indicate that we are on the right path and are listening to our customers, to offer them the convenience to shop at their preferred time slot, by offering them the right value, service, selection and high-quality fruits and vegetables.
We believe that if brands focus on speed as the key volume driver and do not offer the right value or the right selection, customer engagement towards the offering might not be as good. Customers are looking for a quality selection of products and, therefore, we need a solution to offer consistency in the services we offer, coupled with value offers and reliable delivery options.
What is the role of technology in strengthening the supply chain?
We believe that technology plays a role at every stage of supply chain process – be it at the sourcing from farmers, at the collection center during quality checks, or while delivering the products to the customers. Basis this, Amazon has built an ecosystem through a combination of agronomist-driven field interventions, and farm management tool to track the impact of the same.
A team of qualified agronomists offer agritech expertise to registered farmer partners for better farm yield and improved product quality. Another offering of the agronomy services is an application interface through machine learning and computer-vision-based algorithms that simplify supply chain processes, help farmers to identify defects (rotting, spots, cuts, mould) in fruits and vegetables, and reduces wastage of produce, which in turn helps in ensuring that customers get the best quality of fruits and vegetables.
What is Amazon Fresh’s vision for driving customers’ grocery needs in India? How much is the growth now and what do you plan for the Indian market in future?
Grocery is one of our fastest-growing categories and we are unusually passionate about customers and laser-focused on providing the best online shopping experience to our customers with a wide selection of products at great value, and convenience and safely delivering them to their doorsteps.
We believe that the key to the long-term success of our grocery offer is to bring together service, quality, value, and customer experience that Amazon customers know and love. We recently announced the expansion of Amazon Fresh in over 60 cities and we plan to continue expanding Fresh in a phased manner across India. This will allow us to offer fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and chilled products like dairy and meats coupled with other grocery items.
We will continue to build and learn customer experience, invest in technological advancements, and strengthen our supply chain to be able to seamlessly deliver fresh quality produce timely to our customers.