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Amazon Serves An Indian Appetiser; Takes The Wraps Off E-com Referral Site Junglee.com

World's largest online retailer has commenced operations of its first e-commerce site in India by launching Junglee.com, an online shopping service that enables customers to find and discover products from online and offline retailers in India as also from the parent site Amazon.com. The site is in Beta as of now and will continue to be in Beta mode for the next several months since the company plans to continuously make changes to it. Let's have an in-depth look at the website.

Products & How It Works

At launch, the company claims to already have over 12 million products or SKUs on the platform and the selection includes more than 9 million or three fourth of them being books and the remaining 3 million products from more than 14,000 Indian and global brands. Customers can purchase items directly from retailers including Homeshop18, UniverCell, Hidesign, Gitanjali, The Bombay Store, Fabindia, Bata India Limited, Dabur Uveda, Microsoft India Store, Reebok AND Amazon.com, among others.

However, as expected, some of the big boys of Indian e-commerce such as Flipkart and Infibeam (which also has its own marketplace platform) are not part of the list.

Customers can either buy products online by following the link to the seller's website or find a seller's physical store. Yes, you guessed it right. Consumers cannot buy directly from Junglee and the site simply puts the user in touch with sellers by directing them to their websites; displaying their customer service phone numbers; and providing their physical store locations so that they can buy the products directly from the respective sellers.

Sellers can upload their catalogue and the site displays their ads to Junglee.com customers (any visitors) when they shop for those particular products or related products. There is no minimum or maximum limit on the number of listings that sellers can create and sellers have the option of setting their product ads to 'inactive' or 'active' whenever they want from the 'account info' page (that displays the product ad status) under the settings tab.

Narasimha Jayakumar, COO (Ecommerce) of HomeShop18 said, "We are happy to participate as a retailer on Junglee.com since this will help us secure additional visitors to our site and increase brand visibility. Junglee.com has high-quality product detail pages that complement our own website, customer reviews and targeted audience, thus enhancing our customer conversion rates."

As of now, product listing is free which means there is no listing fees, subscription fees, CPC or any other hidden charges but that should change with time as traction on the site increases.

Categories & UI

The website features more than 25 categories that include books, movies, music, video games, consumer electronics, cameras, mobile phones, computers, software, apparel, shoes, jewellery, watches, baby products, toys & games, health & personal care, home and home appliances, kitchen appliances, pet supplies, sporting goods and Automotive.

The website also offers Amazon's Kindle e-book reader that is shipped through the Amazon Global Program, which basically means that Amazon will provide duty and tax estimation during checkout, as well as customs clearance by the courier on the buyer's behalf for certain eligible countries including India.

As of now the e-book reader's price displayed on the website is Rs 5,601 (equal to its US price) but the rupee price shown is an estimated price and the actual price includes applicable shipping, duty and tax charges (that fluctuates from time to time) and it also depends on the rupee to dollar exchange rate at that particular time.

The company has kept the user interface (UI) of the site plain and simple and you can navigate through the website with ease. Visitors can either select products from the various departments (categories) or search for products using a search bar. There is an option of signing in and existing Amazon customers can sign in with their ids or new customers can choose to sign up (although users can only use their accounts to review or like a product or seller).

Once you select a product, the product page opens, which provides the pricing and detailed description of the product. It also showcases a comparison between the offers of different sellers are providing on that particular product with seller details. After an offer is selected, customers can visit the seller's website to make the final purchase.

Customers can share a product on Facebook, Twitter and via email or 'Like' the product (Facebook take note). The company has also integrated Amazon.com's humongous customer rating and reviews database with that of Junglee.com's customer rating and reviews for the benefit of the buyers.

Branding

Surely, this is just the first step as the world's largest retailer is just testing the market with its new product.

As we had first reported here that Amazon is setting its back end logistics business which is a precursor to a full fledged launch of operations when the regulatory issues are cleared, it will be launching under the domain name Amazon.in. As of now Amazon.in is not functional for users, but services section of the site is already on http://services.amazon.in/, which acts as a place for product ads on Junglee.com besides seller contact support.

Having said that, the entry of Amazon with Junglee.com is akin to Wal-Mart (the world's largest offline retailer) marking its presence in India through a wholesale cash and carry store chain a few years ago. Wal-Mart is also waiting for the government to open the retail sector to FDI to open its own stores for consumers. Its existing stores are not allowed to sell to consumers directly but only serve as a point where shopkeepers can buy products in bulk for their own stores.

But why did Amazon name it Junglee? Well, the company already owned the domain name since it acquired Junglee, an online virtual database making company in 1998. Also a post on the website reads, "Junglee means 'of the jungle'. We appreciate how overwhelming it can be to navigate the jungle of products, brands, sellers, shipping options, and payment methods, and make informed purchase decisions. Our team is focused on organizing selection and buying options to make it simple for you to navigate this jungle and shop anything using our service. We feel the name reflects our passion to deliver on this ambitious goal."

But we also found another reason: after all 'Amazon' in itself is the name of one of the biggest jungles!

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