Four years after entering India and doubling down on its investment to expand its online business in the country, Amazon is exploring a new territory: offline space.
The e-commerce giant is in advanced talks with brick and mortar stores across the country to sell smartphones and other products of its online partners, people familiar with the matter have told Gadgets 360.
The effort comes as the company tries to "fill a gap," in its offerings that it couldn't deliver through its online infrastructure, one person said, requesting anonymity as details are private. To start the project, the company is at present focusing on smartphones, the person said.
Amazon will help these smartphone companies, many of which don't have a major market share in India, raise brand awareness, do marketing, two people said. The e-commerce company is talking to several offline retail giants for this, a source added.
One smartphone vendor that Amazon has been talking to is Chinese manufacturer Nubia.
"We are in discussion with Amazon right now, because [it] also has an offline team, which works for the offline business," Nubia India Marketing Director Dheeraj Kukreja told Gadgets 360. "So we are in close discussion with the Amazon team to go offline."
In a statement to Gadgets 360, an Amazon spokesperson said, "We work with several brands, including Nubia, on different aspects of their business to create an unparalleled customer experience."
Even as an increasingly growing number of people are beginning to purchase their phones from online websites, the vast majority of the nation still walks to a physical retail store when they need a new smartphone. Online channels account for only thirty percent of all smartphone sales in India, according to figures from research firm Counterpoint.
In the grand scheme of things, Amazon wants to look at how some of these smartphones that garner interest online perform in the brick and mortar stores and then use those learnings to explore selling other products offline as well, one person said.
According to another person that Gadgets 360 spoke to, Amazon has sought government permissions to explore these opportunities, but it hasn't received the approval yet.