You may soon be able to book your flight tickets, order food on Amazon
BENGALURU: Amazon India may soon start selling airline tickets and allow food orders, leveraging the user base to generate more transactions on its platform and become a super app in the manner of Tencent’s We-Chat.
The Seattle-based web retailer is in the midst of beta testing flight bookings in collaboration with travel portal Cleartrip, said two people aware of the development. The move signals a shift in strategy from ecommerce to becoming more of an all-in-one app enabling various kinds of transactions. Over time, it will let consumers order food, book cabs and hotel stays, said the persons cited above.
“These are all third-party application integrations with market leaders in their verticals,” said one of them. Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow internet companies to interact with each other, allowing platforms to exchange information with each other seamlessly.
AMAZON MAY BE USING TAPZO
Consumer-facing companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ola, Paytm and Phonepe, which have wide distribution reach, want to use their user base to provide goods and services across the board, from recharges and flight tickets to mobiles and grocery. Amazon has a cumulative customer base of around 150 million. However, this number is not reflective of active shoppers on the platform and monthly unique customers are estimated at 20-25 million each for Amazon and Flipkart.
Amazon India acquired Sequoia Capital-backed Tapzo to optimise transactions, ET had reported last year, which may be facilitating the latest move. The startup aggregates a number of app-based services such as Uber, Ola, food delivery services Swiggy and Zomato, BookMyShow, bill payment service BillDesk and more into a single app. Amazon had previously launched recharges and bill payments on its app as well.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s plans. Cleartrip did not reply to ET’s query.
“Ecommerce is no longer just about selling goods,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research. “A growing set of users are consuming services, so while Amazon knows what goods they buy, the company does not know how they consume offline-to-online services. This move will pave the way for Amazon to get access to this data.”
The company is building this capability with Amazon Pay, said an Amazon executive who didn’t want to be named.
Amazon Pay has formed partnerships with various online services such as Yatra, RedBus and Abhibus in travel; and Faasos, Box8, FreshMenu and Cafe Coffee Day in the food and beverages (F&B) space. Other services where Amazon Pay is accepted as a mode of online payment include Haptik, BookMyShow and Niki.ai. The online retailer promotes these brands on the Amazon Pay landing page on its app and website, while also running offers for using the payment channel.
The strategy of Amazon and the other big internet companies is similar to the super app concept popularised by Tencent’s WeChat, which has multiple categories including payments, shopping, food delivery, among others nestled within the messaging app. WeChat hit 1 billion daily active users in 2018, something no other player has been able to emulate in any other market. Southeast Asian apps Grab and Go-Jek, which began as ride-hailing platforms, have also evolved into apps offering other services centered around payments.
In April last year, MakeMyTrip and Flipkart announced a strategic partnership to sell travel services on the ecommerce platform. “The new partnership will start with a rollout of domestic flight bookings in the next few weeks, followed by hotels, buses and holiday bookings,” Flipkart had announced at the time.