“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
At recently concluded Amazon India Fashion Week, Fashion & Style Buzz team was curious to know about the ‘think tank’ behind its designs and concepts. We were sure that whomsoever is the creative director, will be a person who has thorough knowledge of India, its demographic and Socio-Economic parameters. When introduced, we found that it was our very own fashion designer turned Creative Director to Amazon.in- Mr.Narendra Kumar Ahmad, popularly knows as ‘Nari’. And believe me he likes being called ‘Nari’ more that his 3 word elaborate name. We were fortunate to catch up and discuss the e-commerce possibilities in India, and understand the market behavior towards it. Have a look:
F&S Buzz:We see so many e-commerce sites coming up, what is the reason of them coming to India? Specially Amazon.in, does it see very high potential in India?
Narendra Kumar: You see, technology has progressed a lot from the time over the last dot com revolution, means since year, 2000 till today. It touches every part of your life from your watch to your phone to everything- is technology based and it is just logical that you would spend more time and find more convenience on a platform that is e-commerce and it allows as part of all of that I think, e-commerce has become a part of the growing technology trend that is revolutionizing the world.
F&S Buzz: I have heard that you yourself was not comfortable with quick changes in technology. How difficult it was for you to adapt according to this or was it easy one?
NK: So, when I started my career I was always against computers and I thought that (you know) drawing was simply the best, easiest and the best way and I thought that doing something with computers was an artificial way of life but as time has gone by and I have seen that technology allows you to do what you want to do, ‘better’. It does not alter your mind but it helps you to do what you do better. Right! Because there is always a thought behind technology. Until the day artificial intelligence comes about I think, it’ll still be the mind that will control what you do but technology will enable you to do it better and faster.
F&S Buzz:What kind of socio-economic patterns do you observe in e-commerce? What kind of cities are performing in e-commerce?
NK: I think technology is a great leveler in e-commerce especially because (you know), you no longer can say that you live in Gorakhpur so you can’t have fashion. Technology has brought fashion to everybody. It has been a great instrument of democratizing life and everybody has equal access to it and I think that is the biggest socio-economic change that it helps improve lives everywhere in the country. You know, its no longer have to say that you live in an A city or a B city or a C city kind of thing. I think technology will remove those ABC societies, cities.
F&S Buzz: Okay! It means B and C category cities; they are helping e-commerce more than the metros? Is it like that?
NK: No, I think what happens, in a metro city, people have more access to all these products anyways. Metros have all kind of markets, showsrooms, the kind of thing that B and C cities never had. Today, Amazon has every brand that you find anywhere in any city that is accessible to any metro, any B and C class city or even Z . You will be surprised that our very high number of sales comes from Shillong, or part of the country that you never thought would be a part of this.
F&S Buzz:So does that mean that more than 50% orders come from outside metro cities?
NK: Yes,More than 50% coming from small towns, but that is not the story. The story is that even the smallest city today has access because Amazon has created a network through the postal service to deliver to all the pin codes across the country. All 19 thousand pin codes are covered, so nobody is left out of this moving towards the future.
Interviewer: Thats great! Now tell us something about the Amazon designer store that is very much in high demand?
NK: So the idea was (you know) there was always a distance between the high end designer and a consumer in different cities (you know) like I said B and C cities you had to travel to Delhi or Bombay to shop. The idea of Amazon was to be able to make designer clothing accessible to every part of this country and the only thing out there was, at what price point? But it doesn’t mean that you can’t have designer stuff at two thousand five hundred or three thousand rupees but it has to only be 60 and 70 thousand. The vital point is to ‘how do you make it accessible’? Get it across to a lot more people so a lot more people can be able to access the designer stuff- and that is what Amazon’s idea is, to bring designer to the whole country.
F&S Buzz: How did you work on the pricing then? Did you ask designer to design according to your specifications?
NK: So, it’s like- we have data, we know what kind of thing sells on what price. For us it is to tell the designers at this price there are so many pieces selling, at another price there’s another brand of piece selling, this is the kind of colors that we are selling, this is the kind of story that we are, it’s up to the designers to decide. We have designers like Samant Chauhan, Anju Modi, Anupama Dayal, Gaurav Gupta, Leena & Ashima, Poonam Bhagat, Ranna Gill, Kavita Bhartia and many more.The Designer Store on Amazon.in is housed on the Amazon India Fashion Week page which is a one-stop destination for fashionistas to log on to trends ahead this season.
F&S Buzz: Does that mean – You’ve given them feedback and then they have decided?
NK: Yeah! Amazon never enforces anything. We give them feedback. It’s their choice if they want to be part, we show them the picture and it’s their choice to be there or not.
F&S Buzz: Tell us something about the designers? How have you selected them?
NK: So, when we look at the designers we try to bring in different aspects of design. Some people who do ethnic wear, some people who do fusion wear, some people who do western wear according to how Amazon perceives the market. The percentage of difference between the each of them is guided by what we think will do well on our platform, having said that, we also want to encourage all kinds of design which is just not commercial selling. Yeah! We want to be able to give trends; we want to be able to open people’s minds to new ideas. So we are talking to different kinds of designers who do different things (you know) some people are commercially viable, some people are a little edgy where Amazon is a platform for everybody, not just any type of designer.
F&S Buzz: So, this Amazon designer store will be accessible only for domestic clientele or its open for everyone?
NK: There’s a separate program for that which will be announced in the next few days. That’s in the pipeline and we will get back to you on that program. It would be about how to take Indian designers global. It would be our next course of action. We just have to find out what time it will happen.
F&S Buzz: The Grand Finale of this AIFW,SS 16 was about Banarasi weaves. So will you share some strategy with us that will ensure the benefit of weavers as well as designers. Do you talk to weavers or do you talk to designers?
NK: We do it both ways. We work with weavers also, we work with designers too. Designers are the people who shape what the weavers do (you know), but we ensure that the benefits of the sales are channelized rationally to each and every section of that creation. We don’t differentiate between people. Everybody has an important role to play and we want to be there right across the vertical, right from the weaver till the designer till the consumer (you know) and it’s important that whatever we do is in the best interest of our consumer. Now coming back to Banarasi weaves, in Grand Finale we brain stormed and realised that we should stick to our traditional roots (you know); the idea is to open Banaras to a new vision. That’s why we chose ‘Born in Banaras’ theme, and its been applauded everywhere.
F&S Buzz: Anything important you want to share, on behalf of Amazon?
NK: That we are happy, shiny people!