Amazon mulls entry into India’s crowded food delivery space

Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc is planning a foray into the burgeoning online food delivery business in India this year, two sources aware of the development said, in a move that could raise competition in an increasingly crowded market.

The Seattle-based company is working with local partner Catamaran, founded by IT industrialist Narayana Murthy, and has begun hiring staff for the new operation, the sources said, declining to be named because the plans had yet to be made public.

Amazon is aiming to launch the new service delivering from restaurants ahead of India’s month-long festive season, which starts in September, one of the sources said.

India’s rising middle class has driven the growth of the online food delivery sector, with research firm RedSeer Consulting saying order numbers rose 176% in 2018.

Profitability, however, remains elusive. The industry is dominated by local start-ups Swiggy, backed by Naspers and Tencent, and Zomato, which counts Sequoia as an investor.

Uber Technologies launched its India food delivery service in 2017 but has been unable to keep pace with the local market leaders.

Indian daily newspaper Business Standard on Monday reported that Amazon was in talks to buy Uber Eats. Reuters could not verify the news independently.

Catamaran did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Amazon and Uber said they don’t comment on rumours.

Uber rival Ola also launched a food delivery service and bought Foodpanda in 2017. That company is now moving away from marketplace deliveries and focusing on its own brand of kitchens.

Amazon last month closed its food delivery operations in the United States in the face of stiff competition.

In India, the company’s move into delivery from restaurants and takeaway food outlets will help Amazon to attract customers for its other services, one of the sources said.

The company launched its Prime services in India in 2016 and already offers services such as video and music streaming as well as groceries delivery in many cities across the country.

Amazon has been pitched in a battle for Indian market share against Walmart Inc’s Flipkart, with both companies announcing various plans to attract more customers in what is viewed as one of their most important growth markets.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

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

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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.