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Inside Amazon's new India headquarters, its biggest building globally

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​Amazon's biggest building globally
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​Amazon's biggest building globally

With 49 elevators moving a floor per second and zumba classes for its more than 15,000 employees, Amazon's new Indian headquarters, its biggest building globally, matches its ambitions in a vast but challenging market.

In pic: A view of Amazon's world’s largest campus building, in Hyderabad.

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Location
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Location

The US retail giant launched its first site in the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people in 2013 and is locked in a fierce battle with Walmart, which bought a 77-percent share in local e-commerce behemoth Flipkart for $16 billion last year.

"For Amazon, India is a very important geography," the firm's human resources director for India and the Middle East, Deepti Varma, told at the gleaming new 86-metre (282-feet) tall office building in the southern tech hub of Hyderabad.

In pic: Employees walk inside Amazon's newly inaugurated campus building in Hyderabad.

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Challenges
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Challenges

While the prospects of success in the vast nation are tantalising, the risks are also high, with Amazon and Flipkart incurring big losses as they expand and attempt to tap into new markets in Asia's third-largest economy.

Both firms will also face fierce competition from Reliance Industries -- helmed by Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani -- which is preparing to go up against the two US companies with its own e-commerce platform.

Bureaucratic hurdles present further challenges.

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Beautiful interior
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Beautiful interior

New e-commerce rules that came into force in February banned companies like Amazon from selling products from firms in which they have a stake. They are also forbidden from entering into exclusive deals with sellers.

The regulations were brought in after brick-and-mortar retailers complained the e-tailers were unfairly selling products at discount prices.

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​Why is India important?
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​Why is India important?

Amazon has already earmarked $5 billion in investment funds for India, where one in three people use the internet -- a figure forecast to swell by 300 million by 2020 mainly due to growing smartphone use.

India's e-commerce sales are expected to triple between now and 2022, when they are likely to pass the $100 billion mark, according to recent research by industry body NASSCOM and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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​Inside the new premises
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​Inside the new premises

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, said in May after reporting its first-quarter earnings that despite losses at Flipkart, "we continue to believe is a very sound long-term investment in a compelling market".

In pic: An employee stands inside Amazon's newly inaugurated campus building in Hyderabad.

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​An employee works
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​An employee works

India is also a major source of employment for Amazon's global operations with some 62,000 full-time staff and 155,000 contract employees.

The Hyderabad campus is a signal to the government that 'we are increasing our base in India and we are making sure there is a lot of India that is built into Amazon's global story.

In pic: An employee works on a laptop in the premises of Amazon's newly inaugurated campus building in Hyderabad.

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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service