Amazon steps into food delivery business in India as established start-ups cut jobs

Amazon has launched its food delivery services in some parts of the southern Indian city of Bengaluru even as established start-up such as Swiggy and Zomato have been forced to cut jobs in the face of an uncertain future after a longish country-wide shut down.

Amazon Food is available in Bengaluru’s Bellandur, Haralur, Marathahalli and Whitefield areas, where customers can order from handpicked local restaurants and cloud kitchens.

“Customers have been telling us for some time that they would like to order prepared meals on Amazon in addition to shopping for all other essentials. This is particularly relevant in present times as they stay home safe. We also recognize that local businesses need all the help they can get,” an Amazon spokesperson told indoasiancommodities.com.

In the coming months, Amazon India is expected to take this initiative to other cities and metros as well.

According to industry experts, it would be interesting to see how Amazon Food takes off especially considering that food-delivery volumes have dropped by nearly 60% in the past two months compared to before the pandemic, as many restaurants remain shut and consumers are preferring not to order in. This has adversely impacted the food delivery business.

Amazon has been looking to get a foothold in this space since 2019.

It is part of a larger plan to build a comprehensive product portfolio that ranges from grocery and food to home products and electronics. The idea is to be part of their customer’s everyday life.

In fact, with the easing up of restrictions on e-commerce, the demand for Amazon India’s services has gone up significantly — especially for groceries and other essential items.

“We make online grocery shopping convenient for our customers through the two formats of Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh, the spokesperson pointed out.

Amazon Pantry appeals to the value-seeking Indian customers by addressing their grocery needs. The orders are shipped from Amazon Fulfillment centers near the cities and delivered within 2 days.

Amazon Pantry was launched as a pilot in Hyderabad in 2016 and now has customers in 110 cities.

Amazon Fresh, launched in 2019, offers a grocery list with over 5,000 products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, chilled dairy and meat, frozen ice creams, dry groceries like staples, and packaged food.

The products are delivered from 6 am until midnight with ultra-fast 2-hour deliveries. This service is currently available to only customers in 6 cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Believing in its unique role during the lockdown, Amazon India recently announced that it will be creating close to 50,000 seasonal opportunities to meet the surge in demand for its services.

These associates will join thousands of others across Amazon India’s fulfilment and delivery network and assist them to pick, pack, ship and deliver customers’ orders more efficiently.

“One thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how important a role Amazon and e-commerce can play for our customers as much as for small businesses & the economy,” said Akhil Saxena, Amazon’s Vice President, Customer Fulfilment Operations, APAC, MENA & LATAM.

Shampa Bahadur has been a business journalist for more than two decades. She has written for Business India, PTI Media TransAsia and India Infrastructure Publication Ltd among others. She has also written coffee table books. She can be reached at shampa@indoasiancommodities.in

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