Amazon signals entry into alcohol delivery in Indian eastern state

The Amazon.com Inc. logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. laptop computer in this arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Monday, April 23, 2019. Amazon.com Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on April 25. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc has secured clearance to deliver alcohol in India‘s eastern state of West Bengal, according to a document seen by Reuters, signalling the U.S. e-commerce giant’s first foray into the country’s multi-billion-dollar sector.

In a notice on Friday, West Bengal State Beverages Corp, the authorised agency to carry out online retail of liquor trade in the state, said Amazon was among the companies found to be eligible for registration with authorities.

Alibaba-backed Indian grocery venture BigBasket has also won approval to deliver alcohol in the state, the notice said.

West Bengal is India‘s fourth most populous state, with a population of more than 90 million people.

Amazon has been invited to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state, said the notice, which has not previously been reported.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment. BigBasket also did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon‘s interest in delivering alcohol in West Bengal marks a bold move to make inroads into a market that is worth $27.2 billion, according to estimates by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Over the years, Amazon has expanded its e-commere operations in India as more and more people go online to shop for everything from groceries to electronics. The company has committed $6.5 billion in investments in India, one of its key growth markets.

India‘s top two food-delivery startups, Swiggy and Zomato, started delivering alcohol in some cities last month, as they looked to cash in on the high demand for booze as many states come out of a lockdown aimed at tackling the coronavirus.

India restricted liquor sales when it announced a nationwide lockdown in March. Hundreds of people queued up at liquor stores in May when some restrictions were eased, and the liquor industry had been lobbying with many states to allow online deliveries.

Each state sets its own alcohol sales policy. West Bengal last month invited companies to express interest for “handling electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed retail outlets” to eligible legal-age consumers in the state.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.