Mobile Commerce

Amazon Brings India Hyperlocal Grocery Delivery

After rolling out its quick-delivery Prime Now service to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Miami and Dallas, Amazon has now launched something remarkably similar in a less-expected place: Bangalore, India.

Like its U.S. cousins, the eCommerce giant’s new Indian delivery service pilot — dubbed Kirana Now after the small, family-run stores that actually provide the goods — is only available through mobile devices and is initially available only in selected postal codes, with hours limited to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Delivery, which officially began on Wednesday (March 25), is in two to four hours.

The service depends on owners of the kirana uploading their inventories to Amazon, so local customers can see what’s available, according to Tech in Asia, which tried the service but was geoblocked because its reporter wasn’t in Bangalore, so it’s not clear how extensive the list of “everyday essentials” is.

Amazon said the actual deliveries may be made through Amazon’s own logistics network, a kirana’s own delivery employees, a third-party service or some combination of all three.

“The opportunity in the space is huge so I am not surprised,” the co-founder of a rival service told Tech in Asia. Albinder Dhindsa, whose startup Grofers offers app-based selling from kirana in three Indian cities (New Delhi and Mumbai as well as Bangalore) and 90-minute delivery through an on-demand network of motorbike riders, added that Flipkart and Snapdeal are also reportedly working on similar concepts.

(Grofers may be no Amazon, but it closed a $10 million Series A funding round in late February with investments from Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management, according to a press release.)

Amazon India didn’t mention Prime Now in its announcement of Kirana Now, and the two services aren’t identical. But the similarity suggests Amazon may be using a mix-and-match approach to leverage its U.S. experience with projects like Amazon Fresh and Prime Now to compete more effectively in the Indian market, where it’s up against both hard-charging local startups like Flipkart and Snapdeal, and Chinese eCommerce giants like Alibaba and its rivals that are bidding to get a foothold in Asia’s third-largest economy.

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