I often talk about Chandigarh-based Harbhajan Kaur, who became a seller on Amazon.in at the age of 90. She took the entrepreneurial plunge to fulfil her life-long dream of achieving financial independence. Today, Mrs. Kaur’s homemade barfis, achaar, and chutneys are a big hit with customers across the country, something she couldn’t have dreamt of even a decade ago. Stories like these give me a lot of joy. They tell me that Amazonians are doing the best work of their careers by driving meaningful impact at scale.

The Amazon Great Indian Festival 2022 (AGIF) is the best barometer of scale. Sample these numbers:

  • 80% of new customers came from tier 2 and 3 cities and towns.
  • Single largest day of Prime sign-ups on Day 1; 1.9X higher than last year.
  • Over 650 sellers turned crorepatis, over 23,000 sellers became lakhpatis.
  • Women entrepreneurs selling through Amazon Saheli sold 6 products every minute.
Manish Tiwary image
Manish Tiwary, Country Manager, India Consumer Business, Amazon India

Tech preparedness

These numbers might not bring out the degree of preparedness and inventiveness needed to pull off a month-long, pan India event. However, on the tech front, we started with thousands of hosts and additional hosts were deployed after spikes during the early access phase. Our team of site engineers and managers were on call round the clock to ensure a glitch-free experience for our customers and sellers. Despite higher-than-anticipated traffic on the first 2 days, our systems held up and checkout outages were minimal. The result: 22% reduction in reported issues as compared to 2021. I am proud of our tech team’s ability to pull in resources and scale up to meet volume surges and massive traffic spikes. Our systems were also optimised to gracefully descale as needed, in line with our commitment to frugality.

Building for Bharat: Amazon LIVE and Diamonds

Amazon believes in obsessing over customer and building for them. This AGIF, we launched the Amazon LIVE shopping experience where customers could interact directly with content creators (who showcased a variety of products) and get limited duration deals. Over 150 celebrities and influencers such as PV Sindhu, Taapsee Pannu, Ashish Chanchlani and Parineeti Chopra created 600+ livestreams. More than 5 million customers viewed the Amazon LIVE sessions, and customer engagement exceeded all our expectations with 130 comments coming in every minute. 1 in 8 visitors streamed a video.

We also introduced a festive rewards initiative where customers earned ‘Diamonds’ by shopping using electronic payment methods, watching free videos on miniTV, and playing games. More than 10 million customers engaged with Diamonds and 2.2 million customers redeemed them to avail exciting rewards.

Redefining the customer experience

Amazon continues to redefine the customer experience at every touchpoint. Case in point: how we are using advanced computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to ensure fruits and vegetables on our marketplace are of the highest quality. We’ve deployed an auto gradation system that’s gradually replacing manual gradation for finding defects in produce. Defects missed by the human eye are now being caught by algorithms.

Enhancing payments and upping affordability

The payments experience on Amazon.in has become more secure than ever as we’ve embraced Card on File Tokenisation (CoFT). Amazon worked with banks, payment gateways, and payment aggregators to tokenise millions of debit and credit cards with AGIF in full swing. We also ran a campaign on the Amazon.in homepage educating customers on how to enable their cards for online shopping. This year, 500 million Indians had access to cashback and Easy Monthly Installment (EMI) offers as a result of our partnerships with 27 lenders. Over 50% more customers opted for EMI or Pay Later—1 in 4 purchases this year were EMI-led.

Operational excellence meets sustainability

The late economist Julian Simons rightly said that human ingenuity is “the ultimate resource” that makes other resources—land, food, or minerals—more plentiful. At Amazon, we witness and experience the best of human ingenuity and invention at play every day. On the busiest day this AGIF, thousands of delivery associates delivered packages to our customers across the length and breadth of India. Despite unseasonal rains, we were the fastest delivery marketplace; that’s because Amazon has invested heavily in ensuring delivery to all serviceable pin codes. During AGIF, the option of same-day delivery was extended to Prime members in over 50 cities and towns. Even at this scale, Amazon continues to innovate towards its vision of a carbon-neutral future. Many customers have started receiving paper packages instead of plastic ones. Amazon boxes are now secured with paper tapes. We had to invent a new kind of adhesive, which is 25 times stronger, as paper tapes are not as robust as plastic ones. We’ve also scaled our electric vehicles fleet by 3X in the past one year.

Exceeding seller expectations

A month before AGIF, our teams met with thousands of sellers. There was a sense of nervousness about post-pandemic shopping, but the pandemic years have shown that no challenge can deter the human spirit. To support pandemic-hit sellers emerging from over 2 years of sluggishness, Amazon unveiled a 50% waiver on selling fee across all categories for new sellers who registered from August 28 (we will extend this right up to October 26). This encouraged thousands of new sellers to kickstart their e-commerce journey for the first time. Over 4,000 sellers reported sales growth of more than 5X, with 25 products being sold every second. Customers loved the tens of millions of products that hundreds of thousands of SMBs were selling. Our ‘Local Stores on Amazon.in’ program witnessed a 2X growth versus an average day’s sales, with 8 products sold every minute. More than 6,000 sellers got their first ever B2B order through the Amazon Business program. Over 475,000 MSME buyers participated in the Amazon Business program.

Robust sales for brands

Our partnership with brands keeps getting stronger every year. From Samsung to Sony and Prestige to Havells, AGIF generated robust sales growth for brands and helped them solidify their digital footprint. Over 2,000 new product launches and the widest selection ever from top brands—besides affordable bank offers—empowered customers to make informed choices. Brands across categories such as smartphones, appliances, consumer electronics, fashion & beauty, groceries and home & kitchen, reported 1.5-5X growth in sales in the last one month. We are humbled by our partner brands’ success and the faith they place in Amazon.in year after year.

The next decade

2022 has been about resurgence but we’ve barely scratched the surface; e-commerce in India is just 3-4% of the organised retail market. The government’s vision to position India as a favourable investment destination, alongside strengthening local businesses and manufacturing and driving exports, is a powerful one. I am excited about the role e-commerce can play in achieving this vision, especially with Amazon’s commitment to our three pledges of digitising 10 million small businesses, enabling $20 billion in cumulative exports, and creating 2 million jobs by 2025. We are excited to be a long-term partner for India’s growth and remain committed to our pledges.

It’s humbling that Amazon.in has become a daily habit for Indians in less than 10 years. Together with sellers like Mrs. Kaur, and our customers, employees, and delivery partners, we will continue being original and inventive while maintaining Amazon’s Day One culture. We will enable the next 500 million customers to come online through Bharat-specific innovations.

Thank you India, for trusting us.

Happy Diwali and a safe and healthy festive season to you all!