You must consider walking into your neighbourhood Amazon Pay Smart Store before making a purchase decision this festive season. That’s the word coming in from Girish Krishnan, Director, Rewards and Merchant Services, Amazon Pay India, who adds that Amazon has "tied up with 130 brands across 18,000 stores in the country and we are going to offer some of the craziest offers out there in Smart Stores near you.”

So, what are Smart Stores and how are they a win-win for both customers and merchants? Krishnan gives a detailed lowdown in this interview. An Amazonian since 2014, Krishnan also reflects on his journey and talks about his favourite Amazon Leadership Principles. Read on.

Girish, could you tell us about your Amazon journey so far? What were the key milestones?
I am a builder at heart. Started with, which was a price comparison site, then moved on to building Amazon Local Finds. Again, a new idea to help individuals and small sellers sell to the neighbourhood and then nationwide. It had great traction—100,000 sellers in four cities—but had to be shut down when the GST regime came. I then moved to launch Amazon Home Services in India before moving again to Amazon Pay, where I started two new services—Amazon Pay Rewards and Smart Stores. Again, completely new ideas with no worldwide precedent, which have grown significantly over the last three years.

Leader Speak with Girish Krishnan

What is your biggest takeaway from all the lessons you learnt in the eight years you have been with Amazon?
I think the biggest takeaway is how the Amazon culture nurtures new ideas and backs you to the hilt.

If you have a good long-term idea, Amazon allows you to fail fast, iterate, and then take it to scale. I don't think any other company culture allows that.
Girish Krishnan, Director, Rewards and Merchant Services, Amazon Pay India

Which among Amazon’s 16 leadership principles do you count as favourites?
Think Big and Insist on the Highest Standards. Think Big because I always try to take a long-term view of things and take a decision now. Even though it might be painful now, it optimizes for the long-term. Insist On the Highest Standards because I want to be very clear in my conscience that whatever path I traverse, I hold my integrity at a very high level. As long as those two things fall in place, I find happiness and peace.

Tell us more about the Amazon Pay Smart Stores program.
Amazon Pay Smart Stores was actually launched in 2019 with the objective of reimagining how customers shop offline and how to make that experience best in class. As per industry reports, more than 90% of customers—in several categories—still love shopping offline. But offline shoppers have a lot of problems: they don't have full transparency of the product, they don't have the best affordability, post-order purchases are a little difficult for them, and so on. These are the problems that Smart Stores attempt to solve.
How will the program benefit small businesses, local shops, and retailers?
Small businesses and local merchants are the backbone of the Indian economy. More than 12 crore Indians are employed because of SMBs and local shops. Digital payments are exponentially growing in India. Now when digital customers are coming to a store, you are automatically accelerating the digitization of merchants and that unlocks a lot of opportunities for the merchants.

Smart Stores satisfy the customer's needs and thereby accelerates the merchants' sales and opens up more avenues for merchants to grow their business.
Girish Krishnan, Director, Rewards and Merchant Services, Amazon Pay India

As a customer, how can I use Amazon Pay Smart Stores to refine my offline shopping experience?
So, if you want to shop offline, you open the Amazon app, go to Amazon Pay, and click on the Smart Stores section where you can see a bunch of stores around you which sell different stuff. Once you have shortlisted the stores, you can actually walk into the store. Outside the store, you will see a QR code. Once you scan that, the entire catalog in the store, the selection of the products, etc. will be available on your mobile phone. So you can actually check and understand the products you are buying. You can check the reviews, ratings, the product information. It will actually complement what the salesperson is going to explain to you. Once you have shortlisted, you can also check all the offers, you can figure out affordability, how to get credit, etc. And then you also get a digital invoice. You can keep it for reference in case you want an extended warranty or for any post-order purchases.

With the Amazon Great Indian Festival 2022 around the corner, is there an additional focus on Smart Stores?
The festive season in India is when a large part of India shops, and for us in Smart Stores, this is a big opportunity to impact a lot of customer and merchant lives in a positive manner. We have tied up with 130 brands across 18,000 stores in the country and we are going to offer some of the craziest offers out there at a Smart Store near you. We will have instant bank discounts, which are going to launch in the next 30 days across all these stores. With Amazon Pay Later, you can get instant credit. Also, get unlimited 2% back on offline shopping with the Amazon Pay ICICI co-branded credit card. So, if you are planning to shop during this festive sale, I would actually go and start checking out Smart Stores around your house before deciding where to purchase.