Amazon is planning a foray into the online food delivery business in India this year. The entry could raise the stakes for other players in an already crowded market. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is working with local partner Catamaran and has reportedly started hiring staff for the new business. IT industrialist Narayana Murthy started Catamaran as a venture firm in 2010. Amazon aims to have the service up and running ahead of the festive season. According to Reuters, the e-commerce giant plans to start delivering from restaurants in September.
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The new service will compete with upstarts such as Swiggy and Zomato and big brand such as UberEats. According to research firm RedSeer Consulting, the online food delivery business saw order numbers rise by 176 percent in 2018. With its own food delivery business, Amazon will be venturing into a business that remains elusive of profitability. Uber launched its food delivery business in 2017 but has been unable to keep pace with local market leaders.
According to Business Standard, Amazon was in talks to buy UberEats‘ business in India. Reuters notes that it could not independently verify the report. Neither Amazon nor its local partner Catamaran offered a comment. For Jeff Bezos led company, the food delivery business could be another way to intertwine Indians into its ecosystem. The report comes in the light of Amazon shutting down its food delivery operations in the United States after facing stiff competition.
Amazon is not alone to take a shot at the burgeoning food delivery business in India. Ola launched a food delivery service and even bought Foodpanda in 2017. However, it has now pivoted from marketplace deliveries to its own brand of kitchens. The e-commerce giant could benefit from its familiarity and already strong delivery network powering the retail business. It is not clear whether food delivery will be connected to its Prime services, which includes music, video streaming and grocery delivery.
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Amazon is engaged in a fierce battle with Walmart-owned Flipkart for online commerce. Both the companies have introduced number of plans and offers to attract customers. India has emerged as a key battleground for these e-commerce giants. With food delivery business, Amazon could hope to bring more users to its other services.