With fresh Rs2,900 cr infusion, Amazon ups stakes in battle against Flipkart

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Seattle-based ecommerce giant Amazon has made a fresh investment of Rs2,900 crore in its Indian unit as part of its commitment to invest $5 billion to expand its business in the country.

With this fresh investment, the parent company has invested $1 billion into Amazon Seller Services (Amazon India) so far in the current fiscal year. It has nearly doubled its authorised capital to Rs31,000 crore ($4.74 billion), nearly matching its mammoth capital commitment of $5 billion made in June last year.

In June, Amazon India had received funding of Rs1,680 crore, followed by Rs1,620 crore in September.

This latest infusion improves the prospect of further investment commitments from founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, and also sets the stage for an all-out, war against local ecommerce rival Flipkart, which continues to maintain its slender market lead despite Amazon’s deep pockets and best efforts.

Amazon has disputed that it lags Flipkart in market share and has asserted that its methodology of calculating gross sales could be different from that of Flipkart.

”As India’s largest and fastest growing ecommerce player, and with a long-term commitment to make ecommerce a habit for Indian customers, we continue to invest in the necessary technology and infrastructure to grow the entire ecosystem … while continuing to launch innovative India-first initiatives as well as completely new offerings like Echo, Prime and Prime Video,” said an Amazon India spokeswoman in response to a query from Mint.

Flipkart, which is also extremely well funded and counts among its investors Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd, South Africa’s Naspers Ltd and Accel Partners, among others, has already raised nearly $3 billion in two separate tranches this year and has declared that it has at least $4 billion of cash reserves.

Chatbots coming
Meanwhile, Amazon India is working on ‘chatbots’ which will act as personalised salespeople in a bid to make the online shopping experience more interactive and engaging.

The text-based chatbot project titled ‘Guided Shopping programme’ is similar to Amazon’s voice-based smart assistant, Alexa. The chatbots would help shoppers to navigate and buy on the portal by giving suggestions.

Chatbots would also be able to send messages in Indian languages and Indic dialects, the report said. While no specific launch date is given, it is believed Amazon India could introduce chatbots by next year.

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