Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Ravi Desai, Amazon

While the pandemic made the ecommerce business in India into a rollercoaster ride, Desai found ways to reshape the ecommerce platform’s focus and purpose.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Ravi Desai, Amazon
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Ravi Desai

Director, mass and brand marketing
Member since 2018

Over the past six years, Amazon India has built a business that has scaled nationwide, but Ravi Desai, its director of mass and brand marketing, has spent much of the past 12 months finding new ways to deepen the platform’s presence in the country. 

While Amazon may have aced the ecommerce game in the urban and English-conversant parts of the country, Desai’s marketing focus through much of 2020 has been deepening its presence in India’s non-English-speaking hinterlands.

Desai’s strategy marks the next step in Amazon India’s marketing strategy, which over the past few years has focused on highlighting selection, pricing and convenience. Amazon India’s thrust into India kickstarted with its ‘aur dikhao’ (‘show me more’ in Hindi) campaign, which sought to highlight the platform’s vast inventory of some 20 million products. 

Then Desai focused on breaking key barriers to online shopping—concerns over getting the wrong products or fake merchandise and concerns over returns—with its ‘aapki apni dhukan’ (‘consider this your own store’) campaign. As Amazon has ventured further from the comfort of metro cities (where 90% of families are connected to the internet, according to some estimates), deeper into rural areas, Desai has recast the firm’s customer interface from just English to at least five Indian languages, with more on the way.

Desai has had to also balance the needs of internal and external stakeholders. During the pandemic, Desai led the team to create the #DeliverThanks digital campaign, which targeted the firm’s frontline staff—delivery people, pickers, packers and sorters—who kept the business going as India was hammered by the pandemic. Meanwhile, Amazon in April 2020 launched the Local Shops program to help small offline retailers go online, with as many as 50,000 of them signing up in a year. 

The pandemic also gave Desai a fresh headache and challenge. While India’s ecommerce industry was steaming ahead until the end of 2019, successive national lockdowns meant everything barring the most essential services was barred. While the basics of selection and competitive pricing struck, Amazon discovered changes in the way people purchased online—spikes in health and hygiene (a surge in oximeter sales, for example), a switch from office wear to comfortable WFH clothes—and tweaked its plans accordingly. 

To do this, Desai used old campaigns, extending the ‘aapki apni dhukan’ campaign to reinforce and even reintroduce the concept of online shopping and then used the increasingly ubiquitous delivery box as grist for a  “Inn dibbon mein kya hai’ (‘What is in these boxes’) campaign to highlight the company’s selection, safety, best practices and delivery capabilities. 

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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