Amazon in Emerging Markets Assignment

Amazon in Emerging Markets

In the spring of 2014, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”), saw its chief competitor in China, Alibaba Group, file documents with the SEC for an initial public offering that could be one of the largest in history, its main competitor in Brazil, MercadoLibre, sustained an approximate 40% loss in stock price despite several years of profitability, and its two chief competitors in India, Flipkart and Snapdeal, formed separate mergers with other related firms. The intense battle for control of a country’s e-wallet was nothing new to Diego Piacentini, senior vice president of International Consumer Business, and Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO (see Appendix A for Amazon’s executive leadership). Their decision to launch Amazon.in in June 2013 marked Amazon’s eleventh country-specific portal after nineteen years of operation. China was Amazon’s first emerging market website, and India only its third. Compared to its experience in China and Brazil, Amazon followed a different business model and strategy in India. What led to the differing approaches and which, if any, of Amazon’s emerging markets’ strategies and investments would succeed? The case starts by examining Amazon’s entry into India and then turns to Amazon’s experience in China and Brazil.

Amazon’s International Expansion

Incorporated in 1994, Amazon had evolved from a small online vendor of books and other information- based products in 1997 into a global “customer-centric” company serving consumers, sellers, and developers with operations in twenty-two countries. Amazon’s international expansion started in 1998 when it acquired Bookseller, Ltd. (bookseller.co.uk) in the United Kingdom and Telebook, Inc. (telebuch.de) in Germany. These two sites gave rise to what became Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de, respectively. It was early in 2000, during this initial European expansion, that Amazon hired Piacentini, who had been Apple’s general manager for Europe. Since his hiring, Amazon launched nine other country-specific websites, in Italy, France, Spain, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Australia. In other countries such as Costa Rica and South Africa, Amazon located customer service, software development, fulfillment or back office operations. (See Appendices B1 and B2 for Amazon’s global websites and operations).

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