Amazon and the Ashok Patni have set up a joint venture for customer service, especially local-language customer service, reports The Times of India. Ashok Patni’s investment fund Zodiac Wealth Advisors will hold 51% stake in the joint venture called Frontizo Business Services Pvt. Ltd, with Amazon holding a 48% stake through Amazon Asia Pacific Corporate Holdings, and Zaffre Investments LLC will hold the remaining 1% stake.
The joint venture was set up in May this year, and between June and August, Amazon Asia Pacific Corporate Holdings invested Rs 94.15 crore, Zodiac Wealth Advisors invested Rs 100 crore, and Zaffre Investments invested Rs 2 crore into the venture.
Frontizo will primarily be providing a technology platform to service e-commerce transactions, including mobile. It will tackle both customer-to-customer and business-to-customer transactions.
An Amazon India spokesperson told MediaNama that “Yes, we are aware that Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Pvt. Ltd. has entered into a partnership with the Patni family. We at Amazon India are unable to offer comments.”
It will be interesting to keep a watch on Frontizo and see if it goes down the same path as Cloudtail India Pvt Ltd, the 51:49 joint venture company between Narayan Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Amazon Asia. Cloudtail India is a seller on the Amazon India portal. It is owned by Prione Business Services and claimed to have 6,000 sellers from 14 cities on Amazon India as of January 2016. In fact, it had become Amazon India’s biggest seller, accounting for 40% of the company’s sales on the platform in October 2015, according to this Livemint report.
Amazon expanding delivery network
Earlier this month, Amazon added more store partners and service partner nodes. With this expansion, Amazon now has 350 ‘Service Partner nodes’ across 320 cities, which is a 40% increase from the 250 that were set up for Diwali in 2016. The company added that it has now partnered with 17,500 small stores in 225 cities for last-mile delivery. This is 5,000 more stores than last year. Store owners deliver between 20 to 30 packages a day, earning a fee per delivery.
Amazon has also invested in expanding its network of Fulfilment Centres to 41 in thirteen states. The latest fulfilment centre opened in Hyderabad at the start of this month. By the end of this quarter, the company hopes to have set up seven new fulfilment centres.
Plus, last month, it was reported that Amazon India’s logistics arm Amazon Transportation Services (ATS) is looking to get another Rs 400 crore infusion from the parent company to expand its logistics footprint in the country. Filings from the registrar of companies also showed that it has got board approval to increase its authorized share capital.
Currently, Amazon’s total investment commitment in India stands at $5 billion: the $3 billion announced in June 2016, plus the $2 billion investment announced back in July 2014, which the company has already completed in phases over the past two years.