Given the kind of depth Amazon has in
online retail, along with its pioneering presence and global dominance, we can
say the company will soon be India’s biggest online retailer, a market that is projected to have the world’s largest middle class in the years ahead. And the way it is
moving up its product chains, it is leaving behind a widening gap for other
biggies of the space, i.e., Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues and so on, to fill.
Like many of its good initiatives, Amazon
India started an easy to subscribe (and modify) ‘subscribe and save’ category
last month. Under this category, buyers can subscribe for products from
among eight categories. Though the catalogue is pretty short right now, we can say it has
begun on a good note. A customer has the liberty to opt for frequency of
delivery – from one to six months – for each product.
There are two offers with this category
that make it worth a pick.
The first is obviously the comfort of home
delivery and Amazon has an efficient one.
The second is about the 10% discount offer. If one subscribes for more than three products a month, a flat 10%
discount on every product is yours.
Obviously, one can get a better deal in
many wholesale markets of Delhi where the norm is between 15-20% discount. But
here it is about the comfort of ordering from your smartphone or computer from
anywhere you are, saving your flesh and soul from the torment of Delhi’s
traffic and its overcrowded markets. I am talking about Delhi here because I
stay here and my experiences pushed me to write this piece.
But in this case – with this ‘subscribe and
save’ option – the comfort level of this convenient home delivery option is
proving a burden - as well as an embarrassment.
Last month I subscribed for some 10 products
under the ‘subscribe and save’ category. Two were bathroom air fresheners from
Godrej (Godrej Aer Pocket) – of different fragrances. These
two were delivered a week apart. In fact, every product of my order was delivered
on a different day.
So, that is there where the problem lies.
Amazon sent its guys some 8 to 10 times,
stretch over some 10 days, to deliver those products I subscribed last month if
I am recollecting correctly.
There is always these messages popping up
that your products has been packed, that it is ready to ship, that it has been
shipped, that it will be delivered today. With the usual tag line – please keep
cash or your card ready! Here I would like to mention another element – none of
the delivery guys were carrying the card swipe machine - even if I asked for
It wastes your time. There is always this
hangover in your mind that you have to be at home as the Amazon guy would come
to deliver the product.
Also, on a social/societal note, your
neighbours would obviously think what has happened to this guy that he is
ordering so much online, even if you haveordered the basic stuff you need every
month. The problem of plenty that was never there!
Does it make any better business sense?
I was thinking to call Amazon for some days
to register my thoughts. Today I got my call patched. The guy on the other side
sounded sincere on my complaint and he said he would send the feedback up. But
he also said that it was due to the cycle of availability of products. Amazon
makes a product available to its customers as soon as it reaches its warehouses
and, according to him, that is the reason behind the multiple runs of errands.
So, Amazon is incurring loss here. It is
what a common ‘common sense’ says. After all, you need to pack the product –
that costs. I would say, again of Godrej air fresheners – a small strip worth Rs.
45 was in a packing that would obviously be costly. And as I wrote, I had
Then there is this wastage of manpower
hours. All products from a single order, with a tag date of 11 of every
month, can be delivered on any chosen day before that tag date. It doesn’t make
sense to send 10 guys to deliver 10 products on 10 different days - of a single
Does Amazon India see any logical sense in
this logistical spiral?
Because I believe I am not alone in
Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from Amazon India website