It was a partnership waiting to happen. On one side was India’s largest chain of fashion department stores, Shoppers Stop. And on the other was, well, Amazon.

One was the pioneer of modern fashion retail in India. And the other was, well, Amazon.

One needed the scale, understanding and tactics to become an “omni-channel” retailer (retailers selling through multiple touch points both online and offline). The other, well, Amazon, wanted a better understanding of India’s fashion market. In fashion, Amazon was a laggard behind Walmart-owned Flipkart, which ran circles around it using three distinct brands and operations—Flipkart fashion, Myntra, and Jabong.

And so it was that in September 2017, Amazon invested $24.8 million (Rs 180 crore) in Shoppers Stop.

Both partners shook hands on three win-win mutual objectives.

One, Shoppers Stop wanted to sell its private labels globally, through Amazon. Two, Shoppers Stop wanted to be a preferred seller on the platform. And three, the two would work together to craft a common omni-channel strategy, helping Shoppers Stop sell more of its products online.

A year and a half later, Shoppers Stop seems to have achieved the impossible—it’s worse off on many of those areas than before the deal.

Its share of omni-channel sales is still below 2%, nowhere near its 2020 goal of 10%. In its email response to The Ken, Shoppers Stop claimed that events like demonetisation and the implementation of the goods and services tax have hampered their omni-channel growth. It has also been forced to halt the sale of its products via Amazon.in because of new Indian regulations which prohibited e-retailers like Amazon from selling products of companies in which they have an equity stake.

And then there’s private labels, Shoppers Stop’s great global hope. The contribution of private labels to its overall revenue has dropped from 14.7% in the quarter preceding the Amazon partnership to 12.2% in the quarter preceding the company being forced to stop selling on Amazon.in. This is according to data from brokerage firm IIFL Securities.

“At an overall level, the execution [of the deal] seems to be far behind the original thought,” said a former Shoppers Stop executive who was part of the deal-making process.

Well, that’s one way to put it.

The executive requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the deal.

“The deal”

Shoppers Stop’s original choice wasn’t Amazon. Around the time it was in talks with Amazon, it had also tried to talk to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, claims the Shoppers Stop executive quoted earlier. But either it couldn’t get through, or Alibaba wasn’t interested.

AUTHOR

Rozelle Laha

Rozelle joins The Ken in Mumbai from Fortune magazine, where she was a Principal Correspondent covering retail and FMCG. In her seven years of experience, she has written for publications including Hindustan Times, Mint, and Businessworld. Rozelle also spent some time working in the PR industry. At The Ken, Rozelle will track leading retail and internet companies from Mumbai.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.