Amazon Easy stores bridge digital divide for India’s shoppers in smaller towns, cities
“It’s not like people don’t have data connectivity or even the Amazon app on their phones, but they face challenges of knowing how to use it to their advantage. And that’s where I step in, to help them make informed purchasing decisions and then having it delivered to them through my Amazon Easy store,” says Ankit Jain.
Ankit Jain is the owner of a book store, Jain Book Depot, in the small town of Raisinghnagar in Rajasthan. He first heard about the Easy Store programme from an advertisement posted on his community network. Curious, he went online to learn more about it and ended up becoming a part of the Amazon Easy Store network.
“My regular customers as well as new customers from the neighbourhood often face problems with online shopping, particularly when they have to make major purchase decisions involving consumer durables like refrigerators, washing machines or TV sets. Even if they have digital access, which many of them don’t, they are unable to make a decision based on the product reviews and ratings. That’s why they come to my shop and I help them with the right suggestions based on their needs and budgets,” shares Ankit Jain.
Easing the digital journey of India’s small businesses
To ease the online shopping experiences of customers who are not digitally very savvy, the Easy Store format allows them to place orders on Amazon’s online marketplace with guided assistance from the store staff. These stores also allow customers to pick up their orders directly from the store or get them delivered to their doorsteps.
Nishant Yadav from Varanasi and his friend, Shaurya Raje from Balia district in Uttar Pradesh, have both been running Amazon Easy Stores from their neighbourhoods for over a year now. “We have been serving a steady stream of local customers with their online purchases from our shops,” says Shaurya. “I came to know about the programme from my friend, Nishant, a year ago,” he shares.
Satya, yet another Amazon Easy Store owner, first learnt about the programme from a social media advertisement. “I saw an ad on my Facebook feed that piqued my interest,” says Satya, who owns a small store in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. “I’ve been associated with the programme for the last four years now. My incremental income as an Amazon associate has also seen an increase over these years,” he adds.
Helping bring customers into the digital fold
Taneeru Shivakumar, who runs a flagship Amazon Easy Store from the small town of Tenali in Andhra Pradesh, has also been happy to help customers from his locality. Both Shivakumar and Ankit Jain joined the programme a few months ago and have already been seeing a steady stream of customers. “I’ve managed to make a lakh in these past couple of months alone. I easily clock in about Rs. 20,000–25,000 a month as an Amazon associate,” says Ankit Jain. Ditto for Shivakumar, who says, “Last month alone, I earned as much as a lakh from my Easy Store, which is entirely managed by Amazon’s marketing partner. Right from the signages, product displays, and a PC-based website, everything in my store is provided by them.” Much like Shivakumar, Himabindhu from Guntur and Kiran Kumar from the Bapatla have also been operating flagship Amazon Easy Stores in small-town Andhra Pradesh.
Amazon Easy flagship stores
Piloted back in 2015, the Amazon Easy Store has expanded across states and union territories in the country through two different formats. One of these is the Amazon Easy flagship store format where Amazon determines a customer’s entire store experience. All flagship stores have physical products from Amazon.in on display and they also offer pick-up and delivery services to customers. The other is the shared store format where Amazon appoints associates from neighbourhood shops such as local kirana stores, pharmacies and stationery stores, like that of Satya, Nishant Yadav and Ankit Jain. These small business owners with their own retail stores also provide Amazon Easy services alongside their primary businesses.
Irrespective of the store format, all Amazon Easy store owners are trained to help customers find, decide and buy products of their choice from the Amazon marketplace. Customers who grapple with digital access can walk into their local Amazon Easy Store for assistance, where the store staff help them browse and select products, create their Amazon accounts, place orders and checkout to buy.
Amazon.in has also enabled store owners with its last-mile delivery programme, “I Have Space”, which helps them deliver packages to customers in their local neighbourhoods and also facilitates customers to pick-up packages from their stores.