A BOOMING RURAL INDIA – AMAZON MEETS THE NEED

It’s always contingent upon companies to revamp and redesign operations as those needs arise.

So it has been with Amazon in India.  In ALL THE MOVING PARTS: ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT, it’s what is focused on consistently – to have all the moving parts move together in order to effectively support needed change.  Thus, in rural India, Amazon is building a logistics network from scratch to target customers there – about 800 million people.  Most of those living in that part of India currently have little access to retailers, don’t typically have smartphones, credit cards, or, even sometimes delivery addresses.  But what they do bring to the marketplace is money.  Therefore, it seems a reasonable approach for a company to jump at the chance of adding millions of additional buyers to their enterprise.  In a recent WSJ article, a teacher who lives in a small village of 1,000 people in rural India, is quoted as saying that he didn’t even know where to buy things like jeans, shoes, socks, curtains and glassware and accoutrements for his house – until 2016 when he started shopping online at Amazon and now, he says with wonder, they arrive at his door.  Last year, rural shoppers in India purchased more than $400 billion in retail goods and it’s speculated that Amazon realized $7 billion in gross merchandise volume.  The company competes with Walmart and local startups that are vying for customers who are going directly to online merchandizing due to the recent rollout of 4G mobile internet across India.  Amazon is counting on online shoppers in India to triple in the next few years, and a spokesperson has said that more than 80% percent of the company’s new customers during 2018 were from outside India’s biggest cities.  In an effort to make online shopping a reality for Rural India, Amazon has modified its app so that it will work with inexpensive smartphones and patchy cellular networks.  And it has ensured that there are appropriate Indian language descriptions of products, literally hundreds of thousands of these product descriptions, along with videos for those who can’t read.  Amazon stores have also been added to facilitate walking people through the process of ordering online.  And the addition of “tens of thousands” of delivery personnel was necessary to make the rural deliveries, often on bicycles and down dirt roads, where payment is accepted in cash or digital accounting.  The company also plans to invest $5 billion on warehouses and logistics and technological networks as well as customer and seller recruitment.  Building the company in India from the ground up, so to speak.  As with most things that Amazon attempts, I’d guess that the outcome will be successful.  And let’s hope that some of the financial windfall will be reinvested in enterprising efforts in America as well.

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