Amazon today announced the launch of its own restaurant food delivery service in India, according to TechCrunch. Dubbed Amazon Food, the service launched in select postal index codes of Bangalore before expanding to other cities in the future.
“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,” an Amazon spokesperson said. The company will launch with a handful of restaurant and ghost kitchen partners from which customers can order meals.
Amazon’s starting a food delivery service in India was actually meant to happen in 2019 but got pushed to March of this year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to take the entire world in its grip. India’s nationwide stay-at-home order further delayed the Amazon Food service’s debut until now.
Amazon Food arrives in India at a time of upheaval for food delivery in that country. Uber Eats recently exited the Indian market, selling its business in that country to local delivery service Zomato for $206 million. But Zomato, along with its chief rival Swiggy, are currently struggling under the negative impact the pandemic has had on India. Both companies have cut jobs, and Swiggy is also scaling back its ghost kitchen division as a way to cut more costs and keep its operations “nimble.”
Amazon’s entry into the market could exasperate the challenges these local players already face. Even without a pandemic keeping India’s 1.3 billion people on lockdown, neither Swiggy nor Zomato is profitable yet — a common theme for third-party food delivery companies worldwide.
Amazon, meanwhile, has invested heavily into the Indian market and already operates Amazon Fresh and Amazon PrimeNow platforms in that country.