India should not become additional colony of Chinese and US companies: Sachin Bansal, Flipkart

Bansal was speaking at a business panel, which also included Amazon India's Head, Amit Agarwal. Bansal said that India needs a level playing field to take on foreign competitors

by Ruhail Amin
Published - Mar 31, 2017 8:12 AM Updated: Mar 31, 2017 8:12 AM
India should not become additional colony of Chinese and US companies: Sachin Bansal, Flipkart

It seems the home-grown ecommerce companies are in no mood to let their foreign counterparts have an easy access to the vast Indian market without demanding the kind of ‘privilege’ which they think the MNCs enjoy on the local turf.

Voicing his concerns about India becoming an additional colony of Chinese and US companies at a recently held event, Sachin Bansal, Executive Chairman of Flipkart, said, “I think what is happening in India is pretty unprecedented. This kind of situation has not occurred anywhere else in the world so far, and not even in any other sector. In India we are witnessing a different story. A significant amount of capital is being dumped into the open market and this has been a playbook for many MNCs in India. I think India is at a stage where we need to decide which path we need to take and a lot of entrepreneurs in India believe that because of the size of the market and because of the dynamics and the fact that two-third of our economy depends of services, we believe that the next logical step for India is to develop Internet economy and not just become the additional colony of Chinese and US companies.”

Speaking at the panel, which also included Amazon India’s Head, Amit Agarwal as one of the participants, Bansal once again demanded that India needed a level playing field to take on foreign competitors. “I think we have an opportunity to build great internet companies from India and at the same time we should do that by not creating an unfair playing field for some companies and instead create a level playing field across for everyone. I believe that if you create a level playing field, Indian companies will be at great advantage and we will be able to build companies which will go global overtime,” stated Bansal.

Highlighting how Amazon India was not getting any preferential treatment, Amit Agarwal, SVP and Country Manager, Amazon India, said, "I just want to reiterate that Amazon is a company incorporated in India, domiciled here. It follows all mandated laws, such as two-factor authentication, and pays service tax as well. I think of all the countries, India is most suited for ecommerce because every city and state here has a different consumption pattern. It is very hard to grab all this in the physical space and to do justice to what the customer needs.”

Speaking about the need to move away from limiting narratives and focusing on greater customer experience, Agarwal added, “There is a lot of focus on issues which don’t matter to customers. I think the beauty of innovation is going to be customer focused and I hope the conversation in India gets centred around customers.”

Stating how ecommerce players in India can follow the path to profit, Agarwal commented, “I believe the act of removing defects from the system is both good for the customer and for the business. It is very easy to have customer focus, but it is very hard to be customer obsessed. If culturally your organisation is very frugal and customer obsessed and you are investing into the customer experience, I believe in the long term it is beneficial. Moreover, it is important to take a long-term view and also innovations need to be sustainable with the right kind of assumptions. I think these are the ways to profitability.”

Bansal and Agarwal were speaking at an industry summit held recently in New Delhi. 

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