Junglee: Amazon makes quiet entry into Indian retail market via comparison shopping site


February 3, 2012

The Economic Times
Bangalore, February 3, 2012

The world’s largest online retailer is tiptoeing into India, using cover from a comparison shopping site Junglee.com it acquired 13 years ago.

Amazon, whose moves have been closely watched for any sign of an imminent entry into the Indian retail market, will not sell or buy anything in the country for now. Instead, it will direct customers to both online and offline vendors listed on Junglee.

Amit Agarwal, vice-president of Amazon, would only say Junglee would "help customers discover products from online and offline retailers in India and from Amazon.com". He declined to say more about the company’s plans.

Conspicuously missing from the list of vendors on the Junglee site is Flipkart.com, India’s biggest online retailer founded by two former Amazon executives. Flipkart expects to post sales of Rs 500 crore by March 2012. Amazon ended 2011 with revenues of $48 billion (about Rs 2.5 lakh crore).

"Its recent moves to set up a fulfillment centre (in Mumbai) and now the Junglee launch certainly look like precursors to a retail launch whenever the government allows FDI in multi-brand retail," said Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight. A legal expert at one of the country’s largest law firms said Amazon was making a ‘clever entry’.

Agarwal said Junglee will display over 1.2 crore products and 14,000 brands for Indian consumers. The company has also launched Amazon seller services in India where vendors can hook up to Amazon’s portal to acquire customers.

(Read our perspective on this launch on our blog.)