Why Junglee is a Brilliant Move by Amazon

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Amazon is known to be a ‘smooth killer (or criminal if you’d like it that way)’. In fact, if you look at Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet approach, Amazon is slowly building a much credible product than most of the so-called iPad killers. It probably is the only credible iPad killer which has taken an integrated approach to digital content and for sure, Amazon understands that it’s a long term play and is bringing pieces together slowly.

Coming back to the topic, I believe Junglee is a super brilliant move by Amazon and the company is building a slow-and-steady, a build it piece-by-piece approach instead of launching an elephant product without understanding the market.

First, What is Junglee?

While we are debating whether it’s a marketplace or a price comparison service, here is what Junglee means to a consumer:

“Junglee is an online shopping service by Amazon which enables customers to find and discover products from online and offline retailers in India and from Amazon”.

At the backend, Junglee is a marketplace enabling sellers to upload their catalog, which is then promoted by Amazon and the final sale happens on seller website.

Junglee is Amazon India?

What’s so great about it?

Actually nothing. But maybe something, if you look at it from Amazon’s perspective.

Amazon tried acquiring Flipkart and the deal didn’t go through. Investors in India have hijacked the valuation of ecommerce players and acquiring any other ecommerce player is equally pricey (doesn’t really justifies the price?).

But the key for BIG bang launch is to ensure that the entire machinery works in sync. While Amazon is building its logistic piece, it’s getting its act together by launching the first version of Junglee.com – which doesn’t do any shipping, doesn’t allow any transactions on the site.

As a brand, Junglee is just like a startup (in beta mode). Amazon couldn’t have practically launched Amazon.com website in India under beta state and hence the company decided to take a different approach, i.e. started another brand (which it acquired 10 years back).

The Minimum Viable Product approach to launching Amazon in India

If you notice, Amazon.in is not yet open for all and only services.amazon.in is open for sellers who are interested in Amazon Product Ads business.

That is, Amazon will eventually launch Amazon as an ecommerce service, but has taken a meta approach to start its India service instead of waiting for the final product to be in place.

The thing with MVP is that no matter how minimal it is, the product still has to be a viable product. So options for Amazon India would have been:

1. Acquire an existing player with a solid backend (logistics/CoD etc) and then launch.

2. Spend one year in honing the logistics business – and then launch.

3. Launch something quick, collect feedback, see what sells and then sell.

Option 1 is ruled out owing to crazy valuations hijacked by VCs.

Option 2 is the long term plan, but when you need to enter a new geography, you need to start from the scratch (unlike Groupon which did a lousy job with SoSasta acquisition). Option 2 is what Amazon India will finally implement, but Option 3 (i.e. Junglee) is the interim solution.

That is, a foot in the door. But remember, it’s a BIG FOOT.

In its current avatar, Amazon is not even competing with Flipkarts of the world, but will soon create its own brand offering and hopefully launch when the logistic part (and FDI) is in place.

In short, a much better penetration strategy than doing a mediocre job of entering a market for the sake of it (the way Groupon did). Having said that, I am really not sure what’s the exact positioning of Junglee – it surely is not offering any major discounts and if its just about product discovery/comparison, there are several other options available in the Indian market that provide a much better interface/solution.

Will Amazon build more credible services around ecommerce market before launching the BIG BANG service? For sure, Junglee is not the final product – it’s the first step towards the launch of Amazon’s ecommerce service in India.

Aside, what’s your take on Junglee? Is it junglee enough to arouse interest?

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