Hic, hic, hurray! Amazon, BigBasket users in West Bengal to get e-booze; 8 more startups may get permit

The ease in regulations for online delivery of liquor has given last-mile delivery companies such as Amazon, BigBasket, Swiggy, Zomato etc. another channel to earn revenue and cope up with the Covid impact on their businesses.

Image: PTI

After food delivery companies Swiggy and Zomato, e-commerce major Amazon and Alibaba-backed grocery delivery firm BigBasket are also tapping into the digital delivery of liquor. Beginning with eastern India, Amazon and BigBasket have received the clearance to deliver alcohol in West Bengal, according to a notice by the authorized agency West Bengal State Beverages Corporation on Friday. Digital pharmacy Sasta Sundar and hyperlocal delivery service Next Door Hub have also received clearances for the same. Earlier Spencer’s Retail and Hip Bar (based in Chennai) were also given the permit. A copy of the notice was seen by Financial Express Online.

Liquor shops were among many other businesses impacted due to the lockdown imposed by the government beginning March 25. However, multiple state governments had eased regulations on the sale of liquor last month leading to panic buying among consumers with long queues at liquor shops. To avoid Covid contraction among people, governments have been exploring the digital route for liquor buyers. Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra etc have already permitted online alcohol delivery.

The ease in regulations has given last-mile delivery companies another channel to earn revenue and cope up with the Covid impact on their businesses. While Zomato, Swiggy saw a decline in food order volumes even as restaurants had to halt operations, e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart had to confine their operations to essential goods delivery during the lockdown. The Unlock 1.0, however, has allowed businesses to resume operations fully even as they make efforts to scale orders back to pre-Covid level.

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Odisha had last month levied a special Covid fee on liquor delivery and had also enhanced the MRP on liquor by 50 per cent of the 2019-20 rates along with delivery charges of Rs 100-300. Punjab, Chhatisgarh etc have also allowed home delivery of alcohol.

There are eight other candidates who have applied for clearances to delivery alcohol online in West Bengal, according to the notice. “The following startup companies/firms/agencies have been shortlisted for demonstration of their online platform,” it read. Tiplur Beverages Technology Enabler, Westwell Distributors, YSC Technosoft, Qualius Food and Beverages, Bazimat Drinks, DLPC Developer, Saha Knowledge & Skills Park, and L’KOL Beverages will showcase their platform for online deliveries next week.

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