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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon has been in China for 14 years, but it hasn't been able to defeat homegrown rivals like JD.com and Alibaba. It is determined not to make the same mistakes in India.

The big picture: India has the world's fastest growing e-commerce market. To make sure it dominates, Amazon is over-investing there, but it's running into competition as U.S. rival Walmart does the same.

What went wrong in China

Amazon didn't invest enough, and got outspent.

  • JD.com was only one year old when Amazon went to China, but it outspent Amazon and invested in customer service and faster delivery methods, says venture capitalist Hans Tung, a managing partner at GGV Capital.
  • Amazon initially under-invested in China, and as a result, it had less than 1% of Chinese market share by 2016.
The Indian success story

"Amazon is employing the right strategy," in India, says Hanna Luchnikava-Schorsch, an expert on India's economy at IHS Markit. In 2017, Amazon committed $5 billion to grow its market share in India, per Forrester.

  • Amazon's main competitor is the homegrown Flipkart. Last year it narrowed the market share gap with Flipkart to around 10%, with 29% to Flipkart's 38.5%, reports India's Economic Times.
  • In 2014-2015, the disparity was around 28%.
  • Amazon has been in a bidding war with Walmart to buy Flipkart, but Walmart reportedly won Friday morning, securing a 75% stake in the Indian company for $15 billion, per Reuters.
    • Worth noting: U.S. tech rivalries are playing out overseas. Walmart was backed by Google's parent company, Alphabet, in the deal.

Flipkart has had success in India due to business strategies tailored to the local market, Luchnikava-Schorsch explains.

  1. Pay on delivery: Digital banking hasn't yet taken off in India, and many people prefer cash transactions.
  2. Local languages: Although English is an official language in India, many rural areas still do business in local dialects, and Flipkart accommodates that.

The bottom line: Amazon and Walmart are battling for India, but the vibrancy of the Indian market doesn't come close to matching that of the Chinese one, Luchnikava-Schorsch says. India has a much smaller middle class —per IHS Markit's estimates, 95% of Indian households earn less than $20,000. And only about a quarter of the country's population has accessed the internet (a much smaller share engage in digital transactions).

Go deeper

Major companies vow to train, hire Afghan refugees arriving in U.S.

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Global Citizen

More than 30 major companies have promised to hire and train Afghan refugees coming to the U.S., per a press release from the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the group spearheading the effort.

The big picture: The 33 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Pfizer and UPS, are joining the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, a coalition founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of yogurt and food company Chobani.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Gracias, México, for color TVs

The patent diagram (left) from Guillermo González Camarena's chromoscopic adapter, and he and the engineer (right inspecting TV equipment around 1955 in Mexico City. Photos: U.S. Patent Office and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México

Credit Mexican engineering and entrepreneurship for developments that led to the in color television, oral contraception and finding a way to help mend the ozone layer.

Why it matters: The contributions helped modernize how we could see the world; improve women's health and expand women's roles beyond the home; and identify dangerous emissions and how to reduce them.

Ipsos poll: Support growing for abortion rights in Latin America

Members of feminist groups in Saltillo, Mexico, after the decriminalization of abortion was approved in Coahuila, Mexico. Photo: Antonio Ojeda/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Support for abortion rights in some Latin American countries has jumped considerably since 2014, with Argentina seeing the biggest shift, an Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: The view that abortion should be permitted at least under certain circumstances is held by a majority of adults surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.