In an ecommerce trend that has gained widespread momentum both politically and publicly in India, Amazon and BigBasket have reportedly gained approval to deliver liquor in India’s eastern state of West Bengal. This came to light via a notice by the state’s liquor regulator, accessed by Reuters.
Reuters, citing the official document, reports that West Bengal State Beverages Corp, the authorised agency to carry out online retail of liquor trade in the state, has found Amazon among ‘eligible companies’ to deliver alcohol across the state.
Along with Amazon, grocery delivery startup BigBasket has also won approval in the same list. According to the document accessed by Reuters, Amazon has been invited to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state of West Bengal.
The approval would mean Amazon’s first such foray into the world’s third largest alcohol market by value. Food delivery apps Swiggy and Zomato have already been scaling up their respective liquor delivery services, as food delivery and ecommerce find new avenues of growth in India’s $35 billion liquor market.
Liquor delivery, which has traditionally been considered a straight ‘No’ in India, gained some quick and serious momentum during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Once the world’s strictest 2 months lockdown was partially lifted across the country, people were seen lining up outside liquor stores, in unprecedented numbers. That, when many states increased liquor prices by as much as 70% in order to prevent people from lining up.
For companies in ecommerce, this was a boon amid gloom. Businesses such as these, which are heavily dependent on supply chain and logistics, suffered massive revenue losses due to lockdown restrictions. To top it all, even when the lockdown was lifted, these businesses were categorised under ‘non-essential’, further restricting their cashflow. However, with state governments individually allowing liquor delivery, ecommerce companies were ready to grab the opportunity, since they have a ready, organised and highly scaled delivery fleet.