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Walmart's Flipkart eyes alcohol delivery foray with Indian startup, letters show

Fri, 14th Aug 2020 13:05

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Walmart's e-commerce
platform Flipkart has partnered with a startup backed by spirits
giant Diageo to deliver alcohol in two Indian cities, according
to government letters seen by Reuters, months after Amazon
planned a similar foray.

Flipkart and Amazon's interest in delivering alcohol in
India marks a bold move to make inroads into an alcohol market
that is worth $27.2 billion, according to estimates by IWSR
Drinks Market Analysis.

The local governments of eastern West Bengal and Odisha
states have said that Flipkart can be associated as a technology
service provider of Diageo-backed HipBar, an Indian
alcohol home delivery mobile application.

Flipkart's customers will be allowed to access HipBar's
application on the e-commerce giant's platforms, according to
the letters, which have not previously been reported.

Under the arrangement, Flipkart customers will be able to
place orders for their favourite tipple, which HipBar will then
deliver after collecting products from retail outlets, according
to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

HipBar, 26% owned by Diageo India, and Flipkart did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June, Reuters reported that Amazon had secured clearance
to deliver alcohol in West Bengal, signalling the U.S.
e-commerce giant's foray into the sector.

West Bengal is India's fourth most populous state, with a
population of more than 90 million people, while Odisha's
population is more than 41 million. Some states in India, like
Gujarat in the west, prohibit alcohol retail.

India's top two food-delivery startups, Swiggy and Zomato,
have also started delivering alcohol in some cities, as
companies look to cash in on the high demand for booze from
people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon on Friday also said it will launch an online pharmacy
in India that will serve the southern city of Bengaluru.

Shoppers in India are increasingly going online to buy
everything from groceries to electronics during the pandemic.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Sanjeev
Miglani and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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