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Key lessons for Jeff Bezos when he visits India next time

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New Delhi, Jan 19, 2020-

He came, he saw, but failed to conquer. It appeared as if the homework was not done properly for the world’s richest man who visited India after a gap of six years despite “falling in love with India every time he returns here.”

He had to face intense political heat in Delhi before Mumbai sea breeze cooled him in the presence of sizzling celebrities.

Here are the key takeaways from his three-day visit that kicked off with paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi and flying a kite.

* Media management: On the final day of his three-day trip to India, Bezos and Amazon held a roundtable with business leaders. An early breakfast with the nation’s top editors must have also been part of his otherwise hectic itinerary on the very first day itself. The deliberations over issues that Amazon currently faces in India would have not only helped Bezos understand the ground situation better, but would have also given him some better coverage. An in-depth opinion piece before starting the visit was also an option.

Lesson: Bring seasoned voices onboard.

* The Washington Post: Bezos did not get time from any top government functionaries and The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, has been blamed for this debacle. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a cold shoulder to the world’s richest man by not meeting him. There are indications that Washington Post’s editorial stance cost him the meetings with Indian government honchos. Do not forget that Amazon’s Cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) lost the prestigious $10 billion Pentagon Cloud project to Microsoft because US President Donald Trump calls the publication “Amazon Washington Post” and has repeatedly criticised it for his coverage.

Lesson: Read between the lines and stay balanced.

* Traders’ ire: Traders across the country staged protests as scheduled against Bezos’ visit under the aegis of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). Few traders along with the CAIT leadership even reached the venue of an Amazon event called ‘Smbhav’ for SMBs. According to CAIT, more than five lakh traders were present at the country-wide protests. The big announcements like $1 billion investment in small and medium businesses in India and creating 10 lakh new jobs by 2025 were not enough to address traders’ ire. Taking all the stakeholders on the same page is what Amazon must think about in the future.

Lesson: Listen to all the stakeholders and make Amazon.in ‘India ki apni dukaan’.

* Secrecy: Bezos’ trip was a hard-kept secret by the company which boomeranged as it left mediapersons guessing and resorting to sources about whom Bezos is going to meet, and places he is likely to visit. Absence of even a basic itinerary gave wings to rumours.

Lesson: Open up and have fun.

Remember that Bezos came to India after a good six years and expectations from all the quarters were running way too high.

Thanks to Bollywood and industry leaders who helped Bezos end the India visit on a rather happy note, saying: “The boundless energy, innovation and grit of the Indian people always inspire me.”  (Agency)

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