After a maiden foray into liquor delivery, food and grocery platforms, bigbasket and Swiggy are looking at expanding their footprint across more states as well as within the states where they are operating at present.
While Swiggy (Bundle Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) has been an early mover in the category and has started liquor delivery in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand, bigbasket (Innovative Retail Concept Private Limited), this month received the nod from the West Bengal government to commence home delivery of liquor.
"We look forward to partnering with other state governments as and when the opportunity arises and regulations permit us to do so," Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO at bigbasket, said.
Liquor distribution in these three states is highly monopolistic. Odisha State Beverages Corporation controls the market in Odisha, while Jharkhand State Beverages Corporation enjoys a monopolistic position in its state. In West Bengal, the West Bengal State Beverages Corporation controls the distribution rights.
"We have been in discussions with multiple state governments to provide support with online processing and home delivery of alcohol. As we ramp up business operations within these (West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand) states, we continue to collaborate with the local excise department and administration to solve operational challenges while helping curb the spread of Covid-19," a Swiggy spokesperson said.
For example, in Chhattisgarh, liquor can be ordered from the website and mobile application of the state-run Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited which has distribution rights over liquor. The order is then delivered to the consumer via delivery-partners.
In Tamil Nadu too, orders are being accepted online and delivered at the cunsumers' doorstep from the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation online platform.
Cities like Delhi NCR and Mumbai, have introduced online tokens where the consumer needs to sign up on the online portal of the states' 'respective liquor distribution agency and place an order. The screenshot can be shown to the liquor shops at the time of purchase.
The Swiggy spokesperson added that it had witnessed "good traction across these three states"with consumers choosing to order via Swiggy due to the benefits of convenience and safety. Menon is also optimistic of the new foray as it adds another high-margin category in bigbasket's portfolio.
"This is a good value addition for our existing customers and helps increase the basket size. We are now working on creating the supply chain and building the category on bigbasket," Menon said.
Questions sent to Zomato about their plans remained unanswered, while Amazon and Flipkart declined to comment.
Sasta Sundar (Golden Goenka Commerce Pvt. Ltd.) and Next Door Hub (Senrysa Technologies Pvt. Ltd) have also received approvals from the West Bengal government to commence home delivery of liquor.
Annually, 14 million cases of IMFL and another 8 million cases of beer are sold in West Bengal which helps it earn around Rs 11,000 crore annually.
Market tracker Euromonitor has projected a 10 per cent rise in the alcoholic beverages market in the country at 5,340.8 million litres this calendar year.
Industry sources estimated that the Indian states, taken together, earned about Rs. 2.25 trillion from taxes on alcohol during the 2019-20 fiscal year.