Amazon.com Inc. will soon enter West Bengal, India’s multi-billion dollar alcohol sales market, sources told Reuters.
The West Bengal State Beverages Corp., the state agency that manages liquor licenses, granted approval for Amazon to sell liquor online, the news service reported. West Bengal is India’s fourth most populous state, with a population of more than 90 million. It’s located on the east side of the country.
India is one of the fastest growing eCommerce markets in the world. It is estimated to reach $200 billion in revenue by 2026, up from just $39 billion three years ago, according to The Motley Fool.
Amazon was not the only online company to be approved for liquor sales. BigBasket, which calls itself India’s largest online food and grocery store, also got the OK. Its major investor is Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Chinese global technology company.
Last month, Swiggy and Zomato, India’s two major food delivery startups, added liquor to their product offering after they got the green light from the state.
Amazon is entering West Bengal’s alcohol market that is worth $27.2 billion, according to estimates by IWSR, a London-based research company that tracks alcohol trends.
As COVID-19 fueled online sales and delivery services, Amazon has said it committed $6.5 billion in investments in India, one of its key growth markets, Reuters reported.
During the mandated nationwide shutdown, India limited liquor sales. As restrictions eased last month, shoppers lined up at liquor stores. At the same time the liquor industry had been lobbying with many states to allow online deliveries, the report said.
BigBasket and Amazon did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
On Thursday (June 18), PYMNTS reported Amazon has expanded its Flex delivery network to 35 cities across the country, up from just three when it was launched last year.
The eCommerce leader said it expects to create tens of thousands of part-time opportunities in the Amazon Flex communities.
In a statement, Amazon said not only will its investment in India result in more jobs, the expansion will assist the company’s Indian delivery network at a time when customers depend on its services.