Why Amazon Is Confronting the Richest Man in India
NEW DELHI — Amazon and one of the world’s richest men are engaged in a multibillion-dollar, politically fraught clash over Rani Pillai’s favorite place to buy groceries. Ms. Pillai, a 47-year-old retired nurse, is a regular shopper at Big Bazaar, a low-slung supermarket nestled beneath a metro station in a middle-class neighborhood in east Delhi. She tried online shopping last year, during India’s coronavirus lockdown. It didn’t compare to Big Bazaar, where jars of mango pickle jostle for space with pasta sauce, while family packs of instant noodles are stacked near giant sacks of basmati rice.
“I like to see things first,” said Ms. Pillai, whose shopping trip that day netted her a T-shirt and several bags of cookies. “Here I can look at the products before I buy them.”
Big Bazaar is owned by an Indian company, the Future Group, which owns 1,500 supermarkets, snack shops and fashion outlets in 400 cities in India. That bricks-and-mortar footprint makes it a prize for companies that, paradoxically, want a piece of India’s fast-growing technology and e-commerce market.
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