Amazon doubles war chest to $4.74 billion to take on Flipkart

indexSource: LiveMint.com, Nov 15, 2017

Bengaluru: Amazon India has nearly doubled its authorized capital to Rs31,000 crore ($4.74 billion), nearly matching its mammoth capital commitment of $5 billion made in June last year.

Not only does it improve the prospect of further investment commitments from founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, it also sets the stage for an all-out, high-stakes war against local e-commerce rival Flipkart.According to regulatory filings with the Registrar of Companies on Tuesday, Amazon India has already issued paid up capital of Rs17,839 crore ($2.7 billion) towards its marketplace arm Amazon Seller Services—far exceeding its initial commitment of $2 billion in July 2014.

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Amazon’s audio biz Audible to soon launch in India

Source: ETRetail.com, Nov. 08, 2017

Bengaluru: Soon you can listen to your favourite book on the go. Amazon is set to bring its audio-book and entertainment service–Audible– to India early next year and has started beta testing it here, people aware of the matter said. Amazon, which has launched global products like Prime and Alexa, is piloting the service among its employees internally at and wants to roll it out at large in another 3-4 months. Globally, Amazon has synced the Audible service to Kindle.

Acquired by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million, Audible sells digital audio-books, radio and TV programmes as well as audio versions of magazines and newspapers including The New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »

Govt readies policy to regulate online pharmacies

Source: LiveMint.com, Oct. 17, 2017

New Delhi: The government plans to regulate the sale of medicines through online pharmacies, a proposal that is opposed by chemists on the grounds that online sales are illegal and easy availability of drugs can lead to their misuse.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the regulator for pharmaceuticals and medical devices in India, and the health ministry have initiated discussions to frame a policy that will facilitate access to quality medicines and encourage more entrepreneurs to sell medicines online.

While as many as 50 online pharmacy start-ups sell medicines over the internet in India, the government’s proposal to regulate the market will give a stamp of official approval and remove uncertainties surrounding the legality of such sales.

The government plans to set up an electronic platform that will act as the nodal platform to monitor the movement of medicines. “The supply of any drug shall be made against a cash or credit memo generated through the electronic platform and soft and hard copies of memos shall be maintained by the licencee,” said the first draft of the proposal to regulate e-pharmacies. Mint has reviewed the document.

Officials working on the draft rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act have categorized drugs into five schedules ranging from medicines that have limited risk to those that have a greater potential to be abused. The third schedule carries all over-the-counter drugs; the fourth schedule will carry all prescription drugs; the fifth schedule will have antibiotics and anti-bacterial drugs; the sixth will deal with narcotics and psychotropic drugs; and the seventh will cover any medicines that do not fall under the other schedules. There are no first or second schedules.

It will however not be easy to buy refills and repeat orders online, according to the draft proposal. Antibiotics, antibacterial drugs and narcotics and psychotropic drugs shall not be dispensed “more than once” unless so prescribed.

“If the prescription contains a direction that it may be dispensed a stated number of times or at stated intervals, it shall not be dispensed otherwise than in accordance with such directions,” said a government official privy to the development. At the time of sale, pharmacists will also have to maintain a record with the name and address of the seller and the date on which the prescription is dispensed.

The government is also considering that pharmacists after dispensing medicines stamp the prescription as “dispensed” and record the data for drugs or substances specified under the fifth or sixth schedule so that attempts at unauthorized use of the same prescription triggers an alert. For drugs under the fifth or sixth schedule, the patient should be registered on the website with their name, address and Aadhaar number.

To ensure safety, for drugs specified under the fourth, fifth and sixth schedules, the cash or the credit memo will contain the name of the doctor, their registration number and the patient’s address. “The rules are still under the discussion stage. We are planning to regulate the business in a phased manner after taking those in business on board,” another government official said.

Dharmil Sheth, co-founder of medicine delivery app Pharmeasy, said that rules are needed to enable a friendly environment for both online and offline retailers. “We cannot have different rules for every stakeholder. With the evolution of the internet and GST, there should not be any restriction on inter-state sale.”

Flipkart to invest US$ 500 million in payments arm PhonePe

Source: LiveMint.com, Oct. 13, 2017

New Delhi: SoftBank-backed Flipkart on Thursday said it will invest $500 million in PhonePe to scale up operations of its payments arm. The commitment is in addition to the $75 million infused by Flipkart in PhonePe since the acquisition in 2015, Flipkart said in a statement.

It added that this is one of the largest single investment commitments in the Indian fintech payments space and “is reflective of the opportunities” in the segment. The announcement comes a day after the Reserve Bank of India said inter-operability of e-wallets will be enabled in phases. Read the rest of this entry »

AIIB, ADB approve $100 mn loan for India’s power sector

Source: Financial Express, Oct 03, 2017

E-retailers in India may have used up anywhere between $10 billion and $12 billion in their efforts to build a business. Despite this, there are just about 10 million active online shoppers, says HSBC citing Flipkart. However, the brokerage’s research team notes that over the long term the spoils could be huge with the market estimated to grow fivefold over the next five years from levels of $12 billion currently, driven by digital payments and the mobile data 4G ecosystem. That’s possible, say industry watchers, given e-retailing accounts for barely 2% of the Indian retail market. While two large players have been able to consolidate the market making it harder for a third players to build meaningful market share, HSBC believes the market is small as yet and as such it might be too early to discuss market shares or even the potential size of the market.

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Amazon launches its B2B marketplace in India

Source: Times of India, Sept 28, 2017

Amazon has launched a business-to- business marketplace here in India, the company announced Wednesday. Amazon Business with 100 million products and 15,000 sellers is targeting the small and medium sized businesses through this platform which was earlier introduced as a pilot in Bengaluru and Mangaluru. Amazon Business will look to tap into buyers running businesses across technology and service companies, manufacturing as well buyers universities, schools and offices.

“We learnt very useful insights from the pilot of Amazon Business for retailers and now we have started the wholesale business across the country and plan to scale it up. We are extending the same benefits for business buyers much like in our consumer focused platform. We have been working on having a vast selection, value, convenience of door step delivery among others. There is a potential of cross-selling and purchasing among merchants who are selling on our business to consumer (B2C) platform,” said Manish Tiwary, VP, Amazon India.

Amazon will be offering value added services like analytics and predictions to boost the sale of merchants on its platform. Late last year, Chinese technology giant Alibaba announced its plans of building its wholesale business here when it partnered with companies in the area of logistics, banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).Over the past two years, a string of young startups has launched B2B marketplaces catering to a fragmented SME industry, most of these ventures have been able to raise capital.

Amazon Wholesale India also works as the distribution and marketing business for leading smartphone brands like Honor, OnePlusXolo, Coolpad, Huawei. A chunk of the investment goes into this side of Amazon’s business. The B2B marketplace on Amazon India is manged by Amazon Seller Services–the firm which also runs Amazon.in, as per a company spokesperson.

“India is the fifth country where the wholesale business has been launched and it has seen success across US, Japan, Germany and UK. Given the huge opportunity India offers in this space, we are focusing on this business to continue scaling it up,” added Tiwary.

 

E-commerce may be the winner amid GDP growth gloom

Source: LiveMint.com, Sept 29, 2017

Bengaluru/Mumbai: Economic growth may be slowing and consumer sentiment tepid, but that hasn’t had an impact on e-commerce sales in the key festive season that culminates with Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, on 19 October.The festive season may have also marked a turning point for e-commerce in 2017, as online retail is now set to grow by more than 25% for the full year after a sluggish first-half performance, according to analysts and company executives.

In its five-day Big Billion Days sale that ended on 24 September, Flipkart generated gross sales of more than Rs5,000 crore, driven by booming sales of Apple Inc.’s iPhones, Xiaomi phones and VU televisions, according to two people familiar with the matter. Flipkart’s numbers include sales at Myntra and Jabong, its specialty online fashion retail businesses. Amazon India (Amazon Seller Service Pvt. Ltd) generated gross sales of Rs2,500-2,700 crore in its four-day Great Indian Festival sale, three other people familiar with the matter said. Gross sales are net of discounts but before product cancellations and returns, which tend to jump during sale events.

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