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Amazon Launches ‘Smart Stores’ Initiative in India to Digitise Local Shops

Customers will just need to scan the Smart Stores QR code provided to get started with the digital experience

Amazon Launches ‘Smart Stores’ Initiative in India to Digitise Local Shops

Amazon is aiming to digitise local retailers through its ‘Smart Stores’ programme

  • Amazon’s new project offers local shops a digital storefront
  • The programme already has thousands of merchants on board, Amazon said
  • Amazon’s new move counters Google’s Spot Platform

Amazon has launched a new initiative called Smart Stores in India to let offline retailers enable contactless discovery of products and online payments. The new move by the US e-commerce giant is an answer to Google's Spot Platform under which merchants in the country are offered with Spot Codes that can be scanned to make payments and engage with customers without having an app or website. Smart Stores are powered by Amazon Pay and work with a dedicated QR code.

Local shops signing up under the Smart Stores programme get the ability to offer a digital storefront of their establishment through which customers can discover products, read reviews, and find offers through the Amazon app. Customers will just need to scan the QR code provided by the shopkeeper to get started with the digital experience. This means they no longer need to visit their nearby shop each time to see what products they have, or to check prices.

Alongside offering the digital storefront, the Smart Stores programme allows merchants to offer contactless payment options including UPI, credit and debit cards, and EMI as well as bank transactions. Customers will also get the option to pay directly through their Amazon Pay balance. Furthermore, the onboard shopkeepers will be able to send a digital bill once the transaction accomplishes.

Local shops participating in the initiative will also get the option to give Amazon Pay reward coupons and various exclusive bank and brand offers to customers.

An Amazon spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that it started a pilot for the Smart Stores programme two months back, and it already has over 10,000 local shops across India. A dedicated microsite on the Amazon India website highlights that apart from local shops, brand stores and hypermakets such as Future Group-owned Big Bazaar, and Amazon-backed More, are on board. A form is also available on the microsite to let shopkeepers and merchants sign up.

There isn't any specific eligibility criteria for participating in the new programme. However, Amazon is targeting to tap medium-sized stores initially.

“Amazon Pay is already accepted at millions of local shops, we are trying to make customers' buying experience at local shops even more convenient and safe through Smart Stores,” said Mahendra Nerurkar, CEO, Amazon Pay, in a prepared statement.

Interest towards Indian merchants growing
Amazon has recently started showing its interest towards Indian shopkeepers to overcome criticisms over impacting their businesses and further scale its platform. In April, the company launched its ‘Local Shops on Amazon' programme to start allowing local shops to list their goods online. Last month Amazon India also announced COVID-19 health insurance for sellers on its platform.

The latest development in the form of Smart Stores seems like Amazon's answer to Google's Spot Platform that was launched in September last year to start offering Spot Codes to merchants for discovery of their products and payments via Google Pay. Companies including Paytm and PhonePe also allow local shops in the country to generate QR codes for digital transactions.

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