Amazon launches online shopping service in India

A box from is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

BANGALORE (Reuters) - The world's largest online retailer Inc AMZN.O entered India on Thursday with the launch of its shopping website, in a major boost to the country's fast-growing e-commerce market.

Seventeen years after Amazon's online debut, the $88.4 billion retailer entered Asia's third-largest economy where websites such as Flipkart and MakeMyTrip Ltd MMYT.O are leveraging an industry growing at almost 50 percent each year. will offer more than 12 million products from over 14,000 Indian and global brands, Amazon said in a statement, including the retailer’s top-selling Kindle e-book reader.

“We are excited to give customers in India a single online starting point where they can shop a wide selection of products sold by local and global retailers, and make informed purchasing decisions,” Amit Agarwal, vice president said in the statement.

Amazon’s offering will find itself competing with a foe the company knows well.

Flipkart, India’s biggest online bookseller, was founded by two former Amazon employees in 2007. The website, which has expanded into mobile phones, appliances, music and movies, sells 10 products a minute and targets $1 billion in revenue by 2015.

Amazon said last month it was setting up its first warehouses in India, which the company said would make shipments faster and cheaper.

E-commerce has a huge potential in India, a country of more than 1.2 billion people with a bulging middle class and rapidly-rising incomes. The country has only 52 million active Internet users, of which only 40 percent have shopped online.

India’s $2 billion book market is growing at around 15 percent a year, while the online industry is expected to grow by 47 percent to more than 460 billion rupees this year, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

Reporting By Harichandan Arakali; writing by Henry Foy; editing by Malini Menon